Tag Archives: bill gates

Bill Gates Expected to Create Billion-Dollar Fund for Clean Energy

Bill Gates will announce the creation of a multibillion-dollar clean energy fund on Monday at the opening of a Paris summit meeting intended to forge a global accord to cut planet-warming emissions, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

The fund, which one of the people described as the largest such effort in history, is meant to pay for research and development of new clean-energy technologies. It will include contributions from other billionaires and philanthropies, as well as a commitment by the United States and other participating nations to double their budget for clean energy research and development, according to the people with knowledge of the plans, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the fund.

The announcement of the fund, which has the joint backing of the governments of the United States, China, India and other countries, the people said, is intended to give momentum to the two-week Paris climate talks.

Negotiators hope to strike a deal committing every nation to enacting policies to reduce fossil fuel emissions. Mr. Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, will join more than 100 world leaders, including President Obama, in Paris on Monday to begin the talks.

The pending announcement was first reported by ClimateWire, an online news organization. A spokesman for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.

If successful, the Paris meeting could spur a fundamental shift away from the use of oil, coal and gas to the use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. But that transition would require major breakthroughs in technology and huge infrastructure investments by governments and industry.

Where that money would come from has been a question leading up to the Paris talks. Developing countries like India, the third-largest fossil fuel polluter, have pushed for commitments by developed nations to pay for their energy transition, either through direct government spending or through inexpensive access to new technology.

India has emerged as a pivotal player in the Paris talks. The announcement by Mr. Gates appears intended to help secure India’s support of a deal.

As secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged that developed countries would send $100 billion annually to poor countries by 2020 to help them pay for the energy transition. Indian officials have demanded that the Paris deal lock in language that the money would come from public funds — a dealbreaker for rich countries.

This summer, Mr. Gates pledged to spend $1 billion of his personal fortune on researching and deploying clean energy technology, but the people with knowledge of his plans said the new fund would include larger commitments.

In a blog post in July, Mr. Gates wrote: “If we create the right environment for innovation, we can accelerate the pace of progress, develop and deploy new solutions, and eventually provide everyone with reliable, affordable energy that is carbon free. We can avoid the worst climate-change scenarios while also lifting people out of poverty, growing food more efficiently and saving lives by reducing pollution.”

Mr. Gates met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India in September on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. In a June meeting in Paris, Mr. Gates told President François Hollande of France that the Paris deal should include robust provisions on clean energy research and development.

“Bill’s been making that point for years, and he’s going to make it more emphatically in Paris,” said Hal Harvey, chief of Energy Innovation, an energy consultancy. Mr. Harvey noted that at the core of the emerging Paris agreement are plans and pledges already put forth by more than 170 countries detailing how they will reduce emissions.

“If you tote up the plans, you see a very significant demand signal, and Bill wants to see that we meet that cheaply,” he said.

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Microsoft tests ‘Work Assistant’ app to help with Office tasks on phones

New application is designed to help users perform Office-related tasks on devices running Microsoft’s OS for smartphones. Is this Bill Gates’ “Personal Agent” project?

Microsoft is internally testing a new application called Work Assistant, which might be one of the projects with which company founder Bill Gates is involved closely.

WMPU was the first to cover the new Work Assistant app. (I saw the WMPU report viaSoftpedia.)

The Work Assistant app, marked as a private internal beta, is designed to help users perform various Office-related tasks on devices running the Windows Phone operating system for smartphones.

One of my contacts confirmed that the Work Assistant application is being developed by Microsoft’s Digital Life + Work group, which is part of the Applications and Services Group (ASG) run by Qi Lu. Julie Larson-Green, chief experience officer of ASG, is believed to be spearheading the Work Assistant effort, and Gates has been involved, my source said.

Last week, during a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, Gates said he was helping Microsoft work on a new Personal Agent project. While not offering many details, Gates said:

“One project I am working on with Microsoft is the Personal Agent, which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to. The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model — the agent will help solve this. It will work across all your devices.”

The Work Assistant beta is 2MB in size, and was last updated December 2, 2014, according to the Windows Phone Store page about the app. It works on devices that run Windows Phone version 8.1 and requires information on users’ appointments, contacts, Internet connection and microphone.

It’s not clear what the Work Assistant’s connection is to Microsoft’s other “assistant”: Cortana. During Microsoft’sWindows 10 event in Redmond, Wash., in late January, officials showed off the ability for Cortana to do things such as fetch a PowerPoint deck from a user’s own OneDrive storage system, simply by having a user ask (by voice) for slides for a particular meeting.

Cortana is integrated into Windows Phone 8.1 and will be integrated into Windows 10 and Windows 10 mobile for Windows phones and smaller tablets. Larson-Green also has said that Cortana will be coming to iOS and Android in some way, though she didn’t provide a time frame.

Microsoft has said the name “Windows Phone” is going away with the launch of Windows 10.

This story originally posted as “Microsoft internally testing new ‘Work Assistant’ app” on ZDNet.

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Bill Gates Reveals What Makes Him Feel ‘Pretty Stupid’

Bill Gates is part of the world’s elite brain trust but there’s still one thing that makes the Microsoft founder feel “stupid.”

During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session today, the global philanthropist said his one big regret in life has been not learning a foreign language.

“I feel pretty stupid that I don’t know any foreign languages,” Gates said. “I took Latin and Greekin high school and got A’s and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese.”

Gates said he hopes to follow the example of fellow tech titan Mark Zuckerberg, CEO ofFacebook, in learning a second language.

“I keep hoping to get time to study one of these — probably French because it is the easiest,” Gates said. “I did Duolingo for a while but didn’t keep it up. Mark Zuckerberg amazingly learned Mandarin and did a Q&A with Chinese students — incredible.”

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Bill Gates wants Norway’s $800 billion fund to spend more in Africa, Asia

Bill Gates speaks at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 2010 mHealth Summit in Washington November 9, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates called on Norway’s $800 billion oil fund, one of the biggest investors in the world, to spend more in the poorest countries where little private money reaches.

Gates, who runs the $37 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said Norway should set aside a portion of the fund to invest in infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, and buy equity in small enterprises that alleviate agricultural and medical problems.

Norway is by many measures one of the richest countries in the world and you can afford to take some of that money and help out people in other places,” Gates said on a visit to Oslo before meeting top government officials.

Norway is working on a complete review of the fund, including its investment strategy. Critics say it has become too big and needs to diversify away from stocksbonds and real estate, and may even need to be broken up into specialized vehicles.

Gates argued that spending in poor countries, primarily on roads, rail and power, would be an investment, not a donation, as it would generate returns over time, even as the spending had a dual role of generosity.

“The area where you may get this dual benefit is … in sub-Sahara Africa and some of the countries in Asia,” Gates said. “That’s an asset class, which could absorb, if it was well managed, an additional $10 billion… I’m not talking about a gigantic amount.”

Norway has amassed the world’s biggest wealth fund, saving up its surplus oil revenues, and operates it as a sort of endowment, spending only its returns. It is expected to exceed $1 trillion this decade and already owns about 1.25 percent of all global equities, a huge amount for a country of 5.1 million.

Speaking at the same event, Finance Ministry State Secretary Jon Gunnar Pedersen told Gates that the fund would be expanding investment in developing markets but stopped short of endorsing Gates’ ideas.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that a larger part of not only our investments but all investments will and should move into frontier markets with less developed markets and higher risk,” Pedersen said.

“Government initiatives and agencies will play an important part of this because private investors need someone’s assistance, someone to piggyback to access these markets.”

However, the minister said making an adequate return will have to be the goal of the fund.

Norway is spending around $5 billion on foreign aid in dozens of countries this year, making it one of the biggest donors per capita.

But the civil sector often criticizes the government, arguing that Norway’s unusual fortunes, which have pushed per capita GDP to around $100,000, warrant even more generosity.

“There’s essentially a lack of long term capital and risk capital (in the poorest countries) … and Norway happens to own the world’s largest source of long-term capital,” said Anne-Marie Helland, the head of Norwegian Church Aid, a top donor.

“This allows it to be extremely long term and particularly well suited to invest in unlisted and illiquid assets, such as development, energy, infrastructure, agriculture, regrowth, etc, in developing counties.”

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Bill Gates admits Control-Alt-Delete was a mistake, blames IBM

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has finally admitted that forcing users to press the Control-Alt-Delete key combination to log into a PC was a mistake. In an interview at a Harvard fundraising campaign, Gates discusses his early days building Microsoft and the all-important Control-Alt-Delete decision. If you’ve used an old version of the software or use Windows at work then you will have experienced the odd requirement. Gates expains the key combination is designed to prevent other apps from faking the login prompt and stealing a password.

“It was a mistake,” Gates admits to an audience left laughing at his honesty. “We could have had a single button, but the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn’t wanna give us our single button.” David Bradley, an engineer who worked on the original IBM PC, invented the combination which was originally designed to reboot a PC. “I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous,” Bradley said in an interview previously, leaving Bill Gates looking rather awkward. To this day the combination still exists in Windows 8, allowing users to lock a machine or access the task manager. While Windows 8 defaults to a new login screen, it’s still possible to use the traditional Control-Alt-Delete requirement and a number of businesses running on Windows XP and Windows 7 will still use it every day.

GATES HAS ADMITTED OTHER MISTAKES TOO

Control-Alt-Delete isn’t the only recent mistake admission by Bill Gates. Earlier this year the Microsoft chairman admitted that the software maker didn’t nail the mobile market when it had the opportunity. “We didn’t miss cellphones, but the way that we went about it didn’t allow us to get the leadership,” said Gates at the time, before admitting the strategy was “clearly a mistake.” Current CEO Steve Ballmer, who plans to retire shortly, has also been admitting his mistakes recently. “I regret there was a period in the early 2000s when we were so focused on what we had to do around Windows [Vista] that we weren’t able to redeploy talent to the new device called the phone,” explained Ballmer at a recent Microsoft financial analysts meeting. Microsoft is now searching for a new CEO who can help with the company’s fresh devices and services plan to regain some mobile market share and move away from its PC and Control-Alt-Delete legacies.

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Why isn’t there a Steve Jobs of social networking?

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Bill Gates was his hero and role model. And, indeed, Facebook has become as ubiquitous as once was true of Windows. But why isn’t there an Apple-style competitor?

While you might once have been dreaming of being the next Joe Montana, Michelle Kwan, Thomas Keller, or Michael Buble, Mark Zuckerberg had very different aspirations.

He wanted to be Bill Gates.

This touching — and, to some, slightly uncomfortable — revelation emerged at last week’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference.

Why did Zuckerberg want to grow up to be a powerful man who tried to make sure, one way or another, that the whole world used his products?

Because, perhaps, Zuckerberg simply liked the idea of making sure, one way or another, that the whole whole world used his products.

Now he has it. Facebook is a company that has wrapped its allegedly likable tentacles around so many people and so many businesses that few can imagine life without it.

Facebook is social networking because it is. Just as Windows was software because it was.

Was.

It seems odd is that there isn’t a Steve Jobs of social networking to tell Zuckerberg that he has, say, no taste.

There isn’t a Steve Jobs who can look him in the face and say, as Jobs once said of Gates: “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”

There isn’t a Steve Jobs of social networking who has devised a more attractive, simpler, more human — and perhaps more secure — way to allow people to share their baby pictures with their shamed Aunt Hilda in the Outer Hebrides.

You might tell me that they exist somewhere. You might happen to adore WhatsApp, Highlight, Ban.jo or even Google+.

You might say that these all approach social networking in a slightly different way, making the mobile experience more local and somehow more engaging.

You might insist that Path, the supposedly more intimate and private social network, is the true competitor. Yet this company seems often mired in troubling controversy. There’s even a debate as to how many people actually use it.

It could be that social networking will fragment into a thousand tiny pieces, each representing one little circle of people’s lives.

Currently, though, Zuckerberg is the public face of all social networking. In perception and actuality, he doesn’t have much real competition. He’d like to have a little more Twitter about his brand. He’d like to have a little more Snapchat.

But, at heart, he counts his billions of users and dollars, while trying to influence public policy in a way that just happens to further solidify his power base.

In a business that so values the idea of disruption and breaking things, it’s quite a failure that no bright and engaging mind has come along to put a visible crack into Facebook.

As Jobs proved, creating a new spirit in an existing industry can turn heads quite quickly. Taking elements that exist and presenting them in an entirely different way works.

Once upon a time, they said it would be too difficult to get away from Windows. Then it began to happen.

It’s odd that the new Bill Gates doesn’t yet have anyone to truly tweak his cheek.

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