The concept of time travel has long fascinated humanity. The idea of being able to glimpse into the future and gain insights about the world to come is both exhilarating and thought-provoking. If given the opportunity to meet a time traveler from the year 2100, there are a multitude of questions one would want to ask. In a recent episode of his podcast, “Unconfuse Me,” Bill Gates delved into this imaginative scenario and pondered the most pressing questions to ask a visitor from the future. While Gates initially leaned toward inquiring about energy production and artificial intelligence, his conversation with University of Oxford data scientist Hannah Ritchie led him to a different train of thought centered around human welfare and global progress. In this article, we will explore the significance of these questions and their implications for the future of humanity.

Gates, renowned for his philanthropy and commitment to improving the world, recognizes the crucial importance of human welfare. In his conversation with Ritchie, he highlights that all progress should be measured through the lens of human well-being. This perspective challenges the commonly held belief that societal advancements can be measured solely by economic growth or technological achievements. Instead, Gates urges us to consider the extent to which individuals are thriving and how poverty rates may evolve in the future. By focusing on the question of what percentage of the world’s population can live on up to $20 a day in 2100, Gates and Ritchie shed light on a key indicator of progress: the eradication of extreme poverty.

The World Bank currently estimates that over 700 million people, approximately 9% of the global population, live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $2.15 per day. This dire reality underscores the urgency to address poverty and its devastating consequences. In Ritchie’s view, if a significant portion of the population can live on closer to $20 a day by 2100, it would be an extraordinary achievement. Such an outcome would signal progress in health, agriculture, and poverty alleviation. The attainment of this milestone would indicate that humanity successfully mitigated the adverse effects of climate change, preventing devastating impacts on agriculture and health outcomes. Moreover, it would signify a shift towards a more equitable world, with fewer individuals experiencing the hardships of extreme poverty.

Initially, Gates expressed his inclination towards asking about energy production and artificial intelligence. His curiosity regarding the energy sources of the future, particularly fusion and fission, reflects his commitment to clean energy and combating climate change. Gates, a co-founder of nuclear energy startup TerraPower, has long championed the potential of nuclear energy as a means to tackle the global challenges posed by climate change. Furthermore, his interest in artificial intelligence stems from his belief in its ability to revolutionize various sectors, such as health and education. Gates’ past involvement with Microsoft and its investment in AI research startup OpenAI further exemplify his dedication to harnessing technology for the betterment of humanity.

Despite his personal fascination with energy and AI, Gates ultimately agrees with Ritchie’s perspective. He acknowledges the significance of inquiring about human welfare and the general well-being of individuals worldwide. This shift in focus highlights the interconnectedness of societal progress, technological advancements, and the quality of human lives. Gates recognizes that true progress lies not only in scientific and technological breakthroughs but also in the compassionate care for the welfare of each individual on the planet.

If granted the chance to meet a time traveler from the year 2100, we are faced with an abundance of questions spanning a wide range of topics. However, by honing in on the impact of poverty rates and the well-being of humanity, Bill Gates and Hannah Ritchie illustrate the broader considerations we should take into account. As we strive for a better future, it is imperative to remember that progress is not solely measured by economic growth or technological advancements. Ultimately, it is the welfare and fulfillment of every human being that truly defines our success. By embracing this perspective, we can aspire to create a world in which poverty is eradicated, and every person has the opportunity to thrive.


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