Bill Gates is overall optimistic about 2022, but writing in his blog recently he identifies one major concern: people’s distrust of governments.
The billionaire Microsoft co-founder in a blog post, titled “Reasons for optimism after a difficult year” made multiple rosy prognostications — from the Covid pandemic potentially ending to the oncoming rise of the metaverse.
But, a particular problem could slow or derail much of that progress, he predicted: people’s distrust of governments. “It’s one of the issues I’m most worried about heading into 2022,” he wrote.
Public institutions, Gates noted, need to be major players in fights like addressing climate change or preventing the next pandemic. But they can only do so much if people reject their guidance on principle.
“If your people don’t trust you, they’re not going to support major new initiatives,” Gates wrote. “And when a major crisis emerges, they’re less likely to follow guidance necessary to weather the storm.”
In Gates’ blog post, he noted that 24-hour news cycles, politically incentivized headlines and social media have each played a role in the “growing divide” — and that governments may need regulate online platforms to effectively dispel misinformation.
Americans may elect politicians who encourage distrust, Gates says
Time may be of the essence. Gates expressed concern that without quick intervention, Americans may grow more likely to elect politicians who publicly express and encourage distrust. The snowball effect could then cause the public to “become even more disillusioned.”
It’s a tricky problem to solve — and even Gates said he’s unsure how to proceed.
“This is usually where I’d lay out my ideas for how we fix the problem. The truth is, I don’t have the answers,” he wrote. “I plan to keep seeking out and reading others’ ideas, especially from young people. I’m hopeful that the generations who grew up online will have fresh ideas about how to tackle a problem that is so deeply rooted in the Internet.”
Since 1987, Gates has been included in the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people. From 1995 to 2017, he held the Forbes title of the richest person in the world every year except from 2010 to 2013.
In October 2017, he was surpassed by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who had an estimated net worth of US$90.6 billion compared to Gates’s net worth of US$89.9 billion at the time.
As of December 2021, Gates had an estimated net worth of US$135 billion, making him the fourth-richest person in the world.