Bill Gates Does An AMA On Reddit - Promotes Robots, Speech & More

Bill Gates, Microsoft's onetime supreme lord and the current chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation took to Reddit Monday morning to allow users to ask him anything.

The tech pioneer was asked about everything from tech skeletons to personal finance - and even if he still jumps over chairs. "Less than I used to," Gates replied, and lamented that he's no longer as hard core as he once was. But from the tone of this back and forth, and the velocity of his answers, Gates proved he is still very core.

ON SOPA & Internet Freedom

When asked what his thoughts were to SOPA and a free and open Internet, Gates said the "Internet has benefited from having lots of free stuff and lots of commercial software." He danced around the SOPA issue, and instead discussed freemium versus pay models. More telling was his closing line about security and privacy, arguably one of the biggest unsolved Web issues: "I am surprised how little progress has been made in the identity space," Gates said, "but it will improve."

Some Redditors weren't that pleased with his answer, though, claiming Gates "sidestepped the question," while others defended him.

What's Next In Tech?

Not surprisingly, many participants wanted Gates' predictions on the next big innovation in tech.

"Robots, pervasive screens, speech interaction will all change the way we look at 'computers,'" Gates wrote. "Once seeing, hearing, and reading (including handwriting) work very well you will interact in new ways."

Biased he may be, but Gates is a Bing man, calling it "the better product at this point. Try the challenge. I am biased but the work to make Bing better has been amazing."

What kind of computer does Gates use? Do we even have to ask?

"I just got my Surface Pro a week ago and it is very nice," Gates said. "I am using a Perceptive Pixel display right now - huge Windows 8 touch whiteboard. These will come down in price over time and be pervasive."

Not convinced? Check this out:

Microsoft What Ifs

When asked what half-baked Microsoft product was never fully developed or released, Gates answered that his former company once worked on a "client/cloud store that was part of a Windows release that was before its time."

Redditors guessed it was the WinFS, to which Gates responded: "Correct!" He went on to say that "Vista was what eventually shipped but Winfs had been dropped by then."

On Coding And Steve Jobs

So does Gates still code? "Not as much as I would like to. I write some C, C# and some Basic. I am surprised new languages have not made more progress in simplifying programming. It would be great if most high school kids were exposed to programming."

Did Gates and Steve Jobs, arguably the two biggest Silicon heavyweights of their time, get along? While the outside word sees them as frenemies, Gates said they were closer than we knew.

"He and I respected each other," Gates explained. "Our biggest joint project was the Mac, where Microsoft had more people on the project than Apple did, as we wrote a lot of applications. I saw Steve regularly over the years, including spending an afternoon with him a few months before he tragically passed away."

How Does Gates Pause?

When not saving the world or glued to the Web, how does Gates disconnect? The answer includes tennis, bridge and reading. And a bit of nerdy travel: "I like to tour interesting things with my kids like power plants, garbage dumps, the Large Hadron Collider, Antarctica, missile silos (Arizona)."

Of course, Gates also donates millions to philanthropic causes, mostly geared toward helping children. He's even put a number on how much money he's leaving his own children: $10 million.

"I definitely think leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favor to them. Warren Buffett was part of an article in Fortune talking about this in 1986 before I met him, and it made me think about it and decide he was right. Some people disagree with this, but Melinda and I feel good about it."

Gates' Favorites?

So what didn't you know about Gates that you're still burning to learn?

Favorite bands: Weezer and U2.

Favorite book: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, by Steven Pinker.

Photos courtesy of Bill Gates/Reddit