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Bill Gates brings insights and cash to Davos summit

Bill Gates has been offering his insights into the future of the Internet, at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos. He said the World Wide Web would eventually transform the lives of everyone – even those without access to the technology.

This content was published on January 31, 2000 - 15:42

Bill Gates has been offering his insights into the future of the Internet, at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos. He said the World Wide Web would eventually transform the lives of everyone – even those without access to the technology.

Around 2,000 of the world’s most influential business leaders have been taking part in the Davos summit. And the names don’t come much bigger than the chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates, who’s been taking part in a discussion about the future of the Internet.

In his speech, Gates said the Internet had plenty of room for growth, and that many people still underestimated the effects it would have on everyday life.

"It’s not only the PC that will be revolutionised," he said, "your television will be revolutionised, and your phone will be revolutionised. When you go to a website you’ll be able to talk as you navigate through that website and look at products you’re interested in."

Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom, was also on the panel and said the Internet would transform the entertainment industry beyond recognition. He described it as a new magical age.

But among the grandiose predictions, one dissenting voice stood out. Professor Michael Dertouzos, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the Web had yet to reach the vast majority of humanity.

"The World Wide Web touches just two per cent of the people," he said. "The 98 per cent it doesn’t touch are silent. I would like to see the magic of the voices of these billions being heard."

Gates countered that the Internet was still in its infancy, and that everyone would eventually see the benefits, including those without access to the technology.

"Fortunately, there’s a synergy between the challenges we face in education and medicine and the wonderful things going on in the Internet. The Internet is the most exciting thing taking place, but right behind it are the advances in medical science and they are using the tools of the Internet to move a lot faster than ever before."

However, he made no predictions about exactly when the benefits would begin to transform the lives of the vast majority.

Gates is also in Davos to help launch a Global Alliance for vaccines and immunisation. His charity is to make a 750 million dollar donation.

By Michael Hollingdale

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