Bill Gates issued a warning this week about Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, saying the Tesla CEO “could actually make it worse” despite a strong track record with his other business ventures.
Although Gates didn’t precisely define what he meant by “worse” in his remarks at the Wall Street Journal CEO summit on Wednesday, he questioned whether Musk was committed to preventing the rapid spread of public health misinformation and vaccine skepticism on social media.
“How does he feel about something that says vaccines kill people, or you know, Bill Gates stalks people – is that one of the things he thinks should be spread? Gates asked.
“If all you need is money and hiring great engineers, he’s probably as good a person as anyone” to guide Twitter through its next chapter, Gates added, but said he doesn’t expect Musk to replicate Tesla and SpaceX’s “breathtaking”. performance.
“I doubt it will happen this time, but we have to have an open mind and never underestimate Elon,” Gates said.
Public attention has focused on Gates’ relationship with Musk in recent weeks after Musk tweeted an unflattering image of Gates and accused him of selling Tesla shares short.
On Wednesday, Gates said Musk’s tweet “didn’t bother me” and declined to say whether he had bet against Tesla.
“It’s possible the stock went down and whoever sold the stock made money, I don’t know,” Gates said, seemingly with a small smile. “Has it gone down in the last month? I do not know. I don’t think being short or long Tesla is a statement about how serious you are about climate change. I’m putting billions of dollars into climate change innovation; I applaud Tesla’s role in fighting climate change. »
Gates also characterized misinformation on social media as more than a technological problem, pointing out how people in positions of trust – from religious leaders in Africa to politicians in the United States – play a major role in people either embrace vaccines or go “crazy” instead. » Beliefs about unproven alternative therapies.
“When trusted leaders don’t talk about vaccines, it’s pretty hard for the [tech] platform to work against that, so I think we have a leadership problem and we have a platform problem,” Gates said.
While Musk may make sweeping changes to Twitter’s product, Gates said he hopes policymakers will develop their own changes to the “legal framework, which he’ll have to follow…hopefully there will be innovation.” along with everything he does on the engineering side. »
Invited to develop his tweet this week criticizing leaked Supreme Court opinion quashing Roe v. Wade, Gates called the draft decision “rather disappointing from my perspective.”
“It’s weird to think that the United States is backsliding, because what we’re mainly trying to do is get other countries to catch up with rich countries where the right to choose is pretty well established,” he said. said Gates. “After 50 years, it feels like something is part of the country’s history and it’s strange to say, ‘No, let’s reverse this.’ »
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