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What has Bill Gates said about humanity’s future on Earth?

The world’s most prolific philanthropist says there is reason to be optimistic for the future when you take a step back.

Bill Gates predicts "dramatic" improvement for humanity
DPA vía Europa Press

Last July Bill Gates announced that he was donating $20 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the charity he runs with his former wife. Gates has donated more than $80 billion to charitable foundations and is a vocal leader on causes like climate change and global poverty.

While giving an interview at Sydney-based think tank the Lowry Institute, Gates said that he is still “very optimistic” about the future of humanity.

Here’s what he had to say…

Greater education will drive innovation

In a recent Gallup poll, just 42% of American said they thought the youth of today will have a better standard of living then their parents. Speaking on Monday, Gates said that people tend to have a “more negative view of some of these trends than is really fair”.

He explained: “The amount of innovation that is [for] the improvement overall in the human condition is still going to be dramatic. We will cure obesity, we will cure cancer, we will eradicate polio.”

Much of Gates’ focus in recent years has been on improving access to education across the world, and he believes that this could play a crucial role in progress.

“All these things are going to kill as many people outside of Ukraine as people in Ukraine”

Bill Gates

“The amount of IQ in the world that’s being educated, the quality of the tools we have to drive forward our innovation, whether it’s in health or energy or education, those are fantastic things,” Gates added.

Gates acknowledged huge harm done by war in Ukraine

While he was broadly positive about the longer term future of humanity, Gates was quick to acknowledge the damage caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Outbreak of war in Europe has captured attentions and forced resources to be diverted from other issue.

“The war in Ukraine will end. I certainly understand the resources being expended there, it’s a terrible tragedy. That tragedy has huge impact on developing countries the cost of food, fertilizer, you know all these things are going to kill as many people outside of Ukraine as people in Ukraine,” he said.

“All these things are going to kill as many people outside of Ukraine as people in Ukraine”

Bill Gates

“In terms of humans wasting resources to go backwards, war is top of the list and the sooner we can bring it to an end the better. The development goals, the UN set goals for 2030, the so-called sustainable development goals, we won’t achieve those goals,” he added.

Current situation should be placed in perspective

As a philanthropist, Gates is painfully aware of the many troubles in the world. However he insists that the outlook is broadly positive and compares the current situation to that endured by our ancestors.

During the course of the interview Gates pointed out that the average life expectancy has risen from around 40 in 1700 to 76.1 in the United States today. In terms of healthcare, education, technology and countless other categories, Gates suggests: “Zoom out and say ‘OK, where were we 300 years ago?’”

“It didn’t matter if you were a king or a pauper, you were subject to huge infant mortality and extremely low levels of literacy,” he continued. “So, the scope of human innovation over time ... is a phenomenal story.