The Mind Meld of Bill Gates and Steven Pinker

Bill Gates does sound like a wise sage and along with Steven Pinker, make some important remarks to contextualize the current world, focus on the positivity and bigger picture.

p.s. fwiw, I've always been found of Bill Gates's writing. This is one of my all time favorite pieces by him writing how Microsoft really needs to get on the Internet bandwagon. Internet Tidal Wave

This was a particularly useful article to read to expand my horizons as my brain has been dabbling with increasing focus on my own work problems.

Some salient quotes:

On why equanimity matters -

PG The motto of the foundation is: “Every life has equal value.” And in your new book, Steven, there’s the idea that we can’t want something good for ourselves without wanting it for everyone. But in truth, I want better things for my husband and my kids than for you. Is that evil, or human?

BG That’s natural. It’s even predicted by evolutionary logic. What makes Papua New Guinea — where there’s no police and revenge after revenge — different from Western society is that when we give ourselves over to the law, we want it to be executed impartially. We gain stability. But if you could get your son off, of course you’ll try.

SP You left off a crucial piece in framing the proposition, Philip — which comes from Spinoza. He said those under the influence of reason desire nothing for themselves that they do not desire for all humankind. But reason is not a powerful part of human nature. Innately, we favor family over strangers, our tribe over other tribes. It’s only when we’re called upon to justify our beliefs — not consult our gut feelings, but convince others of the right way to act — that we conclude that all lives have equal value.

On contextualizing problems and explaining them

PG But can’t overstating problems energize us in terms of solving them?

BG There’s a paradox in letting yourself be very, very upset about what remains to be done. What indicator improves even faster than reduction in violence? Our distaste for violence. We’re more upset about it today. If I see someone spanking a kid — I’m stealing from Steven’s book — I might get up and say: “Hey, wait a minute!” Forty years ago, it might have been more like: “Do you want to borrow my belt?” There are parts of the world that are still like 40 years ago. But to read Steven’s book and think it says, “Don’t worry, be happy,” is to misread it. Because seeing the world through the eyes of that poor kid ideally wants to make you give some money, even though there are many fewer such kids than 50 years ago.

SP You can say the same fact two ways. Extreme global poverty has been reduced from 90 percent 200 years ago to 10 percent today. That’s great! Or you can say: More than 700 million people in the world live in extreme poverty today. They’re the same fact, and you have to be able to describe them to yourself both ways.

Highly recommend reading the whole article