Microsoft founder and mega-philanthropist Bill Gates took part in his third Ask Me Anything session on Reddit earlier today, and shared his thoughts on everything from Microsoft’s new Personal Agent technology to why programming is still a solid career choice. We’ve picked out his most pithy pieces of advice — tips you can use even if you’re not a billionaire.
Picture: Getty Images/Kevork Djansezian
Programming Skills Will Always Be Relevant
Asked whether learning to code was still a “safe” career choice given the increased use of automation, Gates replied:
It is safe for now! It is also a lot of fun and helps shape your thinking on all issues to be more logical. There is a prospect for change in this area for the next generation but that is true for most fields and understanding how to program will always be useful.
Learn A Foreign Language
Asked what his biggest regret was, Gates said it was not learning to speak a second modern language. “I feel pretty stupid that I don’t know any foreign languages,” he wrote. “I took Latin and Greek in High School and got A’s and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese.”
Technology Doesn’t Make You Stupid
We’re often told than our dependence on technology is reducing our intelligence, but Gates isn’t having a bar of it:
Technology is not making people less intelligent. If you just look at the complexity people like in entertainment you can see a big change over my lifetime. Technology is letting people get their questions answered better so they stay more curious. It makes it easier to know a lot of topics which turns out to be pretty important to contribute to solving complex problems.
Don’t Overspend On Food And Clothes
Does Bill Gates buy house brand products? Possibly. “I am pretty basic when it comes to clothes and food,” he wrote. “My big splurge is having a plane to fly around in.” (Yeah, that’s not an option for most of us.)
He also noted that spending on more expensive gear doesn’t always pay off: “I play tennis so I invest in shoes and racquets to help but they don’t make a big difference.”
Asked for a life lesson he “learned the hard way”, Gates offered a scenario most of us can relate to:
Don’t stay up too late even if the book is really exciting. You will regret it in the morning. I am still working on this problem.