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When the “Beautiful Mind” Meets Technological Innovation – Five Guests Describe “An Optimist’s Vision for the Future”

Time:2017-08-02 16:52:33    Views:73847    Origin:Boao Forum for Asia

The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) jointly held a high-level dialogue themed as “Innovation and Partnership – An Optimist's Vision for the Future” on July 24, 2017 in Beijing. Zhou Wenzhong, BFA's secretary general, and Melinda Ann Gates, Co-chair of BMGF, attended and delivered speeches at the conference.

Bill Gates is highly respected as the founder of Microsoft and the leader in the global business and technology fields. Equally noteworthy is the contribution made by him and his wife in the field of philanthropy. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) named after Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates came into being in 2000. The Foundation, under the guidance of the Gates and Warren Buffett, is committed to eliminating extreme poverty and improving the lives and health of the poorest people.

Melinda Gates also participated in the dialogue as an important guest. Guests in the dialogue include ZI Zhongyun, Academician Emeritus of the Chinese Academy of Social Science; Angela You, Chairwoman of Shenzhen Seaskyland Investment Holdings Group Ltd; Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, corporate vice president of Microsoft, chairman of Microsoft's Asia-Pacific R&D Group, and managing director of Microsoft Research Asia; and WANG Jun, Founder and CEO of iCarbonX; Board Member and former CEO of BGI.

The guests discussed how to objectively view and optimistically cope with the current world, and how to rely on the driving forces of innovation and partnership to create a better future. They agreed that China's technological progress and innovation not only promoted the development of the Chinese economy, but also provided a reference for other countries.

Technology renders people helpless? Human beings have wisdom to harness technology

Does the advance of science and technology bring blessings or destruction? ZI Zhongyun said that the rapid development in science and technology may cause some unwanted disturbance to mankind and a sense of helplessness among some people, but the efforts made by the younger generation for the benefit of mankind are still a cause for optimism. As Confucius put it, “knowing the impossibilities but persevering.”

The issue of global poverty makes people think about how technology innovation can be applied to save the lives of people in poor countries. Melinda pointed out that technology lays bare the hitherto hidden problems. For example, previously there was neither data about which regions had more serious malaria, poliomyelitis and other diseases, nor data about the places where women were ill-treated. Now we begin to collect data and apply it to different dimensions, so as to make much headway in the issues that human beings could not deal with in the past.

Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon was also optimistic about the application of technology. He pointed out that history is always moving in the right direction. The number of fatality worldwide due to poverty and infectious diseases continues to decline. By making good use of technology, we can continue to cut down this figure. He also pointed out that technology is increasingly integrated into the daily life. Technology is decided and used by human beings, just like other tools. Humans have enough wisdom to use technology properly. For example, the dangers of global warming may not be known until a few hundred years later, but it is now a topic of heated discussion worldwide.

Both technological innovation and “beautiful mind”

Angela You said that she is definitely an optimist. “Optimism comes from self-confidence. I am full of confidence in the future world because I see that the global education industry is advancing.” She said that technology is transforming human life, talent supports innovation, and charities such as the foundation help more people understand and join charities.

WANG Jun called himself a “blind optimist”. “There would be no innovation without blind optimism.” He thought that technological innovation always brings uncertainty, and people  are always afraid of this uncertainty deep in their heart. Even if gene editing and synthetic organisms, say, create life, we still do not know what life is. WANG Jun said that we need the “beautiful mind” like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to understand everyone's fear, and make contribution through charity, so as to make the world a better place.

Like-minded people attract each other – “new model” required by charity

How to cooperate in charity? Melinda pointed out that a clear goal goes towards attracting like-minded people. At the beginning of the foundation, there were many different goals. If you set a clear goal for the foundation, said Buffett, success will come as a matter of course. Later, we found a lot of partners, who likewise found us. We have established a very good “ecosystem”, and work towards a common goal.

She also pointed out that philanthropy requires the active participation of all mankind. “With science and technology we can develop vaccines, but if the mother did not take the child to receive vaccination, our work would be meaningless.”

WANG Jun agreed with this view. He said that they take into account “DNA” in the choice of partners. As Chinese people often say “People of the same ilk come together.” If you choose like-minded people and focus on long-term benefits and positive goals, then all difficulties are just temporary.

On the topic of “how enterprise and capital forces boost the global philanthropy in the open market environment,” Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon pointed out that market is a great driving force in solving such problems as poverty and disease. So we shall turn the power of enterprises to “good account”, which is also one of the core missions of enterprises like Microsoft.

Echoing this view, ZI Zhongyun said that the “new philanthropy” model in the Europe and the United States deserves study and reference. Apart from material and cash donations, this model also stresses the market as a driving force for public welfare. She also pointed out that China's philanthropy has experienced considerable development in the past 10 years, and Chinese philanthropists can work hand in hand with international philanthropists in the future.

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