Innovation

There’s one thing in business we take for granted today, and Bill Gates predicted it in 1999

Dominic Powell /

Bill Gates, the richest man in the world (or the second richest, for a bit), mostly dedicates his life these days to philanthropic deeds through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

However, back in 1999 Gates was all about the hustle, penning a number of books about business and the future. One such book, called Business @ The Speed of Thought, released in 1999, included a number of predictions about the future of business and technology, many of them were spot on.

However, the most notable prediction was about something business owners take for granted: mobile phones and other smart devices.

“People will carry around small devices that allow them to constantly stay in touch and do electronic business from wherever they are,” Gates wrote in 1999.

“They will be able to check the news, see flights they have booked, get information from financial markets, and do just about anything else on these devices.”

“Just about anything” proved to be spot on, as today even the most basic Android device can do all of the above and much more, with some entrepreneurs running virtually their entire business from just one small screen.

However, despite Gates’ premonitions, the billionaire tech genius has his reservations about the next wave of computing, namely AI and robotics. Gates revealed in February he thinks companies should be taxed for introducing robots into their workforce.

“You can’t just give up that income tax, because that’s part of how you’ve been funding that level of human workers. There are many ways to take that extra productivity and generate more taxes. Exactly how you’d do it, measure it, you know, it’s interesting for people to start talking about now,” he said.

“People should be figuring it out. It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm. That means they won’t shape it for the positive things it can do.”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic Powell is a journalist at SmartCompany and a tech and music geek. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading or browsing record shops.

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