We know him as a billionaire philanthropist. He also has a knack for making predictions that seem outrageous but surprisingly turn out to be accurate. We’re referring, of course, to Bill Gates and his uncanny record of correctly foreseeing what the future might look like. To cite a few instances, some of his 1999 predictions that came true include the advent of price comparison sites, smartphones, social media and the Internet of Things.
Almost two decades later, Bill Gates has another bunch of predictions, some scary, some hopeful. Here are seven of the most notable ones.
A pathogen could wipe out 33 million people in less than a year
At the recent Munich Security Conference, Gates echoed the warning given by epidemiologists: that in the next 10 – 15 years, the world will experience an outbreak that would kill over 30 million people in less than a year. The worst part is — it could happen naturally or unnaturally via a bioterrorist attack. Which is why Gates and his foundation have made globalwide vaccination as one of their top priorities.
Africa will become self-sufficient and be able to feed itself by 2030
In his 2015 Annual Letter, Gates predicted that by year 2030, Africa’s agricultural industry will become 50% more productive, resulting in the whole African continent becoming self-sufficient. And this will be made possible through technological advancements that make farming more efficient. For instance, more effective fertilizers will yield not just more crops, but also more nutritious, as well as more drought-resistant and disease-resistant produce. And with better productivity, farmers will also be able grow different food varieties, keeping some for their own consumption, while selling their surplus to others to add to their income.
Mobile banking will help transform the lives of the poor
Gates believes that due to poor banking infrastructure or the lack thereof, an extra challenge the poor have to face is not having access to banking facilities. With mobile banking service, all they would need is a phone and Wi-Fi access to be able to easily make payments without having to go to a bank which might be hundreds of miles away.
As he wrote in his 2015 Annual Letter: “By 2030, 2 billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payment with their phones. And by then, mobile money providers will be offering the full range of financial services, from interest-bearing savings accounts to credit to insurance.”
By 2035, poor countries will cease to exist.
In his 2014 Annual Letter, Gates predicted that as foreign aid continues to be given to countries that need it most, by 2035, there will be almost no poor nations. By poor, he means those who live on a daily budget of $1.90. He says that even while a few countries will get held back by war or geography, poor nations will become more of an exception as most of them today will become lower-middle income nations or possibly even richer.
By 2030, a breakthrough on clean energy will revolutionize the way we power our world
Global warming is happening, whether we want to believe it or not. And to keep it from destroying our planet, Gates believes we need a miracle in the form of affordable, clean power that won’t just stop climate change but will transform the lives of millions too. In his 2016 Annual Letter, he said he is optimistic that if young people become involved, within the next 15 years, the world will discover a ‘clean energy breakthrough that will save our planet and power our world.’
Automation will result in the loss of countless jobs
We’re already seeing this happening. In fact, this fear is what has brought on the discussion about implementing some form of Universal Basic Income to ensure that automation and job displacement will not cause more poverty among those affected. Bill Gates has his own solution too. In an interview with Quartz, he proposed a ‘robot tax’ to finance those jobs that only humans can do well, like working with children or taking care of the elderly.
By 2019, polio could be completely eradicated.
From more than 400 cases in the late 80s, there were only around 37 new cases of polio reported as of 2016. And from affecting millions of people in hundreds of nations when it first started its attack on the world, polio is now active in only 3 countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Gates is optimistic that global initiative to eradicate polio will finally bear fruition. As he wrote in his 2013 Annual Letter: “The global polio community is now finalizing a plan which should allow us to finish the job of polio eradication within the next six years.”