The idea that they’re starting to be innovative—that is good for the world.
Like most middle-income countries, they’re more than willing to do big projects.
Think of the US in the ’50s and ’60s, Japan in the ’70s and ’80s, Korea in the ’80s and ’90s.
Your technological capability gets really strong, and you’re willing to go out and do very, very ambitious things.
For the US, it’s good to have a sense that we have to renew our edge.
In the ’70s and ’80s, when we were like, “Oh jeez, has Japan figured things out we haven’t,” we renewed our commitment to basic research.
In fact, Japan was never going to overtake us in terms of scientific innovation.
But I do think that was healthy for us.
These are edited excerpts from a conversation with Gates at his Seattle office on January 9.
You can watch a longer version of the interview here.
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