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America’s Future - Part 1

I’m Tom Friedman, I’m a foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times and I’m here today with Bill Gates and we’re talking about America’s future: issues of competitiveness, education and technology.

You know, you were one of the people I first talked to about “the world is flat”. So when I wrote “The World Is Flat”, you know Facebook didn’t exist, Twitter was still a sound, the Cloud was still in the sky, 4G was a parking place, LinkedIn was a prison, applications were what you send to college and Skype was a typo for most people.

You know all that happened in just the last six years. And you’ve seen this in your business but I want you to talk about what you think that means for innovation. What are you seeing of the impact of going from this now connected world to what is really hyper connected?

Well that’s where you get this big paradox, that the speed of innovation today is fast than it’s ever been. Whether it’s in medicine, energy, IT, you know, our deep understanding of these things are advancing on a global basis

and the internet has actually been a tool to supercharge a lot of the collaboration and big data type understanding we gain. So it’s interesting to contrast the rather fearful mood about the future that the United States finds itself in and the fact that innovation has continued to improve, I…. And from here too!

Most…there’s more innovation taking place in this country than, still, than the whole rest of the world put together. Now over time that will shift and they’ll carry their more fair share of the burden but in all these fields the most interesting work is still largely in the United States.

And so it’s a kind of a paradox that when you ask Americans “Is your future going to be better?” that about sixty percent said no. that they were fearful the next generation was going to be worse off. And that’s amazing to me because it is innovation that carries us forward that will make diseases better.

 And innovations don’t go backwards, we’re not gonna…we’re not gonna, you know, go back to manual steering or VHS tapes, the internet’s not going to slow down, it’s going to get better.

And so it really must speak to our fear about our relative position, our concerns about political deadlock. I mean it’s a paradox that the popularity rating of a popularly elected body is so low.

Do you feel sometimes Bill when you look though at our politics and we were talking about congress, so low rated in terms of public opinion, do you feel sometimes that your foundation, you’re working on all these things, that ultimately they can’t scale without good public policy?

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