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Three Big Life Takeaways from Bill Gates

July 16, 2014
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Three Big Life Takeaways from Bill Gates
Bill Gates, chairman and founder of Microsoft Corp. Scott Olson/Getty Images
The Microsoft founder offered some words of wisdom to Reddit users earlier this year. Here, his best bits.

You wouldn’t think one of the richest, most successful people in the world would have a lot of regrets. And you’re right. But, hindsight and age brings needed perspective to any life.

During an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit, Microsoft founder Bill Gates offered some choice advice for the next generation of innovators to stay ahead of the curve and lead a fulfilling, balanced existence.

Machine learning is the next wave

Forget Big Data and the Internet of Things. The next revolutionary trend, according to Gates, is computers that learn.  When asked what he would focus on if he were currently a student and what the most significant technological breakthrough in coming years will be, Gates said:

“The ultimate is computers that learn. So called deep learning which started at Microsoft and is now being used by many researchers looks like a real advance that may finally learn.”

Cultivate a habit of philanthropy

Along with his wife, Gates has pledged to give more than half of his wealth to charity. The couple got a big head start with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he spends roughly two-thirds of his time doing everything from solving public health crises in Africa to reforming American education.

“Just creating an innovative company is a huge contribution to the world,” he wrote. “During my 20′s and 30′s that was all I focused on. Ideally people can start to mix in some philanthropy like Mark Zuckerberg has early in his career. I have enjoyed talking to some of the Valley entrepreneurs about this and I am impressed and how early they are thinking about giving back – much earlier than I did.”

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the single largest donor in the United States last year at the age of 29, giving nearly a billion dollars. And while we can’t all be Gates or Zuckerberg, the web makes it easier than ever to give back to local or international causes.

Better Work/Life Balance

When asked how he’s changed over the past two decades, Gates acknowledged that age has taken off some of his edge:

“Twenty years ago I would stay in the office for days at a time and not think twice about it — so I had energy and naivete on my side. Now hopefully I am a bit more mellow but with a little extra wisdom.”

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