However, the interview has enlightened me as to Gates' motivations. Some people have said he's motivated by money. I don't think so. Others say that he's power-hungry. I don't think he comes across as the sort of person who's massively concerned about power.
One significant thing I noticed was that Gates seems to believe that Microsoft is responsible for the success of the personal computer and he seems to believe that it's because of his company's software that the Internet has become as popular as it has. He asserted, during the interview, that Microsoft's software empowers people to publish their thoughts on the Internet, yet he later admitted that he didn't like the fact that others might use that same software to incite race hatred. He also spoke quite enthusiastically about what lay ahead and the sort of technologies (e.g. speech recognition) that Microsoft is currently working on.
I think Gates believes that he and Microsoft have, almost single-handedly, advanced the human race to the brink of the information age. I think he credits himself and his company as being directly responsible for the fact that there is "a computer on every desk and in every home".
I believe that Bill Gates sees himself as some kind of custodian. Because Microsoft has been so successful and because its software runs on nine out of every ten of the world's computers, he's come to the conclusion that he knows better than anyone else and, therefore, he has assumed the responsibility for leading humanity into the information age.
I think that he sees Microsoft as a tool - it is the company which will do the research, develop the technology and market the software which will help the human race advance. He sees himself as its custodian, rather than its owner. The fact that he has decided to leave his money, not to his children, but to a charitable institution which will fund research into health and education, supports this theory. Bill Gates does actually see himself as having been chosen, in some way, to help humanity.
I'm not saying that he sees himself as some sort of Messiah or genius; just that he has this perception of himself as someone who can change things for the better.
The problem is that he thinks he knows best and this explains his willingness to stomp all over any potential competition who might pose a threat to Microsoft's position (and thus, to his plans and vision of the future), as well as his arrogance towards the US Government.
Let me make it clear that I don't think Bill Gates is evil. I don't think his motivations are selfish. I merely think that he is misguided. He thinks that he knows best and he uses this belief to justify what he does, in effectively forcing the world to adopt the standards which his company has developed, under his supervision, not because he wants to be rich or powerful, but because he believes that he knows best than everyone else.
I don't blame Gates for his actions or the actions of his company. I think his intentions, deep down, are good. But I think that he may suffer from some psychological condition which blinds him to the fact that he doesn't have the right to disregard others just because he thinks he knows best. I suspect that he may believe that the end justifies the means. However, whilst I don't believe that Bill Gates' ultimate intentions are dishonourable, I do believe that he is dangerous because of the immensely powerful position Microsoft holds. Furthermore, I suspect that the people he has appointed to senior positions within Microsoft share his vision. As a result I really hope that the Department of Justice wins their antitrust court case against Microsoft, and that Microsoft is either broken up or has limits placed upon it which will prevent it from single-handedly controlling the development of the software, protocols and networks which will form the basis for the information age.
To be honest, the thought that Microsoft might be left intact or unfettered, to pursue its and Gates' goals, scares me. Not so much because their goal is a bad one, but because that, in achieving it, they could irrevocably stunt the development of the information age.
- The Dodger
Thanks, Dodger. An artful piece piece of writing. Please send your real name, shipping/mailing address, and t-shirt size to email@example.com (minus the "nojunk") and we'll send you a Slashdot t-shirt from Copyleft, as we now do to all readers who contribute features or reviews.