Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Monday gave talks at two top Bay Area universities Stanford and UC Berkeley, as part of his first "Bill Gates' College Tour (BGCT)", as a philanthropist. The series of brief 30-minute lectures followed by Q&A sessions will attempt to find out how to engage "the world's brightest people... on its biggest problems" -- viz., reducing poverty, improving education and health.
At Stanford, Gates' talk, entitled "Giving Back: Finding the Best Way to Make a Difference," occurred in a packed Memorial Auditorium, the campus' premier indoor theatre venue. Gates spoke briefly about the major decline in deaths of children under 5, due to vaccinations, as spread by similar global concerns. Gates' emphasized that access to an education in the math and sciences should be made available to the world via online lecture-sharing systems "by cherrypicking the very best professors on a worldwide basis." Further, Gates stressed that due to the shift in concerns from education to health and other sectors, "Unless we have a breakthrough, a great education can be affordable by fewer and fewer people, every year." Gates holds that the key to solving the major problems of the third world, such as poverty and starvation, is population control.
In the Q&A session, several Stanford students asked about how they might effect change. One question focused on whether one should go into the public or private sector, to which Gates casually expressed that, "most jobs in the private sector don't really work on the important problems."
At Stanford, Gates' lecture and Q&A is part of the "Stanford Open Office Hours" initiative, which allows anyone to post questions for a series of notable speakers, directly via facebook. BGCT at Stanford is sponsored by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, which regularly hosts public events on pertinent international issues involving both Stanford faculty and prominent outside politicians, officials and others.