Feb 27, 2018

Bill Gates is not a fan of cryptocurrencies

Bill Gates. (Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images))

Bill Gates sees cryptocurrency's main appeal as anonymity, which he doesn't see as a positive. Speaking in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session, Gates said it allows people to buy drugs and hurts the government's ability to collect taxes and crack down on terrorism.

Why it matters: Gates' frequent AMA chats let ordinary people ask questions and also let the Microsoft co-founder weigh in on topics ranging from global affairs to the mundane.

The Government's ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing. Right now crypto currencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way. I think the speculative wave around ICOs and crypto currencies is super risky for those who go long.
— Bill Gates

Nor is he big on Elon Musk's vision for high-speed transit. "I am not sure the hyperloop concept makes sense - making it safe is hard," he said.

Gates also revealed:

He can't wait for computers to understand what they read: "The most amazing thing will be when computers can read and understand the text like humans do. Today computers can do simple things like search for specific words but concepts like vacation or career or family are not 'understood.' "

He's not running for President: "I won't be running for President because I am super committed to the work Melinda and I are doing at the Foundation and outside the Foundation. I agree it is important to have a President who thinks long term about the US role in the world and the research to solve disease burdens and costs and to tackle climate change and improve education."

He's not a big beer drinker: "When I end up at something like a baseball game I drink light beer to get with the vibe of all the other beer drinkers. Sorry to disappoint real beer drinkers."

He plays tennis twice a week: "Allocating time is always tough. Tennis is a big hobby for me and I try and play twice a week (a bit more in the summer). I always try and read a few books every month and a bunch on vacation....I travel about 1/3 of the time for the Foundation which I enjoy.

Favorite celebrities: "Melinda (his wife) and Warren (Buffett) are my two favorites followed by Bono. Most celebrities I don't know very well. I do get to meet a lot of political leaders and Nelson Mandela was the most impressive ever. Jimmy Carter is also amazing.

Go deeper

Trump's clemency spree

Rod Blagojevich in 2010. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Trump announced Tuesday that he commuted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence for extortion, bribery and corruption — as well as issuing full pardons for former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik and financier Michael Milken.

The big picture: The president's clemency spree largely benefitted white-collar criminals convicted of crimes like corruption, gambling fraud and racketeering, undercutting his message of "draining the swamp."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump's improbable moonshot

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA is unlikely to meet its deadline of sending astronauts to the surface of the Moon by 2024, even with a large influx of funding.

Why it matters: The Artemis mission to send people back to the Moon is the Trump administration's flagship space policy, and its aggressive, politically-motivated timeline is its hallmark.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Science

Justice Department says U.S. attorneys are reviewing Ukraine information

Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) Tuesday informing him that the U.S. attorneys for the Eastern District of New York and the Western District of Pennsylvania are reviewing "unsolicited" information from the public related to matters involving Ukraine.

Why it matters: Nadler had requested an explanation for the "intake process" that Attorney General Bill Barr stated had been set up in order to receive information that Rudy Giuliani had obtained about the Bidens in Ukraine.