Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates discussed innovation in his most recent blog post, where he outlined the four areas the future president of the United States should focus on: affordable energy, vaccine for HIV and cure for neurodegenerative diseases, protection from future health epidemics, and providing students and teachers with all the educational tools they need.
“From the advances that put a computer on every desk to the discoveries that led to lifesaving vaccines, major innovations are the result of both government investments in basic research and the private-sector creativity and investments that turn them into transformative products,” wrote Gates. “I’ve heard some people argue that life-changing innovations come exclusively from the private sector. But innovation starts with government support for the research labs and universities working on new insights that entrepreneurs can turn into companies that change the world. The public sector’s investments unlock the private sector’s ingenuity.”
To make his case, Gates draws from President John F. Kennedy’s era when the government put man on the moon within a decade and how it inspired Americans.
“Our next president will be part of a new group of global leaders who will wrestle with these urgent problems,” wrote Gates. “Those leaders can either prioritize alleviating poverty, making everyone healthier, and accelerating economic growth—or they can let progress stall. The key to prioritizing progress is support for innovation.”
According to Gates, the four objectives that need to be prioritized are (in his words):
- Provide everyone on earth with affordable energy without contributing to climate change.
- Develop a vaccine for HIV and a cure for neurodegenerative diseases.
- Protect the world from future health epidemics, which might be more infectious than Ebola and more deadly than Zika.
- Give every student and teacher new tools so all students get a world-class education.
Provide everyone on earth with affordable energy without contributing to climate change: Gates calls for government support for clean-energy research so that energy can be cheaper while not contributing to air pollution.
Develop a vaccine for HIV and a cure for neurodegenerative diseases: A vaccine for HIV can be available within the next decade, said Gates, who also added that the disease could be eradicated altogether if a vaccine were to be developed. As for neurodegenerative diseases, more research and advanced tools can reduce health care costs.
Protect the world from future health epidemics: Infectious diseases evolve rapidly and Gates calls for new advances to be better prepared for what is to come. “There is a significant chance that a substantially more infectious epidemic will come along during the next decade,” wrote Gates. “If one does, we will need to be able to detect it, develop a test for it, and produce cures very quickly.”
Give every student and teacher new tools so all students get a world-class education: Gates calls for developing technologies that help students tailor education to their needs. He points out that technology has the potential to make a teacher’s job easier and more effective.
“When we innovate, we create millions of jobs, we build the companies that lead the world, we are healthier, and we make our lives more productive,”wrote Gates. “And these benefits transcend borders, powering improvements in lives around the world. Our global culture of innovation has been most successful at those moments when science, technology, and great leadership come together to create miracles that improve modern life. I believe we are in one of those moments.”