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Posted by: Helen Walters on February 04, 2009
Who knew Bill Gates was a comedian? He got the first standing ovation at TED for a talk which was both warm and funny. Two themes: malaria and education. Pretending to open a jar of mosquitoes out into the audience, he joked that the disease wasn’t something only poor people should experience. [[UPDATE: Turns out he did actually release some mosquitoes into the audience, though organizers were quick to reassure that they weren’t malarial.]] He also made the point that more money is spent on curing baldness than on a disease that kills millions, kind of shrugging when he said it in a rather lovely self-deprecating moment. There’s a paradox, he said: because the disease is prevalent in poor countries, there’s no investment. He also talked about the need for cross-disciplinary innovation, the need to get social scientists working with mathematicians and drug companies and governments. And he repeated his “optimism” that malaria can be eliminated.
I’m late to get back to the next session, so I’ll try to write more on this later, but for now I’ll leave you with my twitter stream, so you can get a better sense of what he actually said.
[[UPDATE: TED posted this talk on TED.com, so I’ve added it here for ease of reference. Tweet stream below that]]
12:27 Gates: hope I'm in "reboot" section because of new job and not because you have to reboot yr computer and you associate that with me
12:33 Bill Gates a comedian! Talking about malaria. Pretended to loose mosquitoes from jar. "Not only poor people shd have the experience" [[update: Gates did actually release live mosquitoes into the audience]]
12:35 Gates. Next question: how do you make a teacher great?
12:44 Gates: optimistic about school system. Namechecks KIPP (knowledge is power) schools in Houston. It's all about the teachers
12:45 Gates: Work Hard Be Nice book, Jay Mathews
12:50 Gates: "Do need diversity of ideas to try things out." Q&A with Chris Anderson, who has Apple laptop on lap [[note -- the irony of the juxtaposition of Gates' statement and Anderson's toting of a Mac got a huge laugh from the audience.]]
12:54 Gates: unbelievable correlation between population growth and health. Worse health = higher pop. Improve health, reduce pop by 1bn
12:58 Gates: "I'm as engaged in new work as was with software. It's not about legacy; these are amazing issues."
What comes next? The BusinessWeek Innovation and Design team of Michael Arndt and Helen Walters chronicle new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.