10 Breakthrough Technologies with Bill Gates

March 28, 2019
How the creator of the world’s biggest private foundation thinks about tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges.

This is an episode of “Business Lab,” MIT Technology Review’s new podcast that helps business leaders make sense of new technologies coming out of the lab and into the marketplace. 

Bill Gates, co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft, talks with Gideon Lichfield, MIT Technology Review’s editor-in-chief, about the magazine’s new list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies, which Gates curated.

The magazine has been publishing its list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies annually since 2001, as a way to highlight the recent advances that could have the biggest impact in the near future. Usually the list is assembled by the magazine’s expert editors and reporters, but this year Lichfield invited a special-guest curator to share his own perspective on which emerging technologies could make the biggest difference for the largest number of people.

Gates stepped aside as CEO of Microsoft in 2000 to focus, in part, on running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. With more than $50 billion in assets, the foundation supports programs to address global problems like poverty, child mortality, the spread of infectious disease, and limited access to health care and education. Befitting his practical outlook, Gates chose a few seemingly low-tech items for the list, such as better sanitation for cities without sewer systems and materials for sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. But he also included recognizably high-tech items like more dexterous robots, more conversational robots, and advanced fission reactor designs.