Philanthropist Bill Gates and whistleblower Edward Snowden both featured in a TED event in Vancouver, speaking about philanthropy and internet security respectively.
Gates, along with his wife Melinda, were interviewed as part of the 30th anniversary of TED, a global set of conferences that runs under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”.
The couple, who have signed the Giving Pledge, have long said the majority of their wealth will go to worthy causes and charities rather than being left to their children.
Speaking about the Giving Pledge, which sees people commit to giving at least half of their assets to philanthropy, Gates said, “It’s the most fulfilling thing we’ve ever done.
“You can’t take it with you. If it’s not good for your kids, let’s get together and brainstorm what can be done. Part of the reason I’m so optimistic is I think philanthropy is going to grow and work on things government is just not good at shining a light on.”
Speaking via a telepresence robot, whistleblower Edward Snowden also spoke at the TED event about the need to rethink the role the internet has in our lives and the laws that protect it.
Snowden, a former employee of the CIA, gained international attention when he disclosed thousands of classified documents revealing the operations of the US National Security Agency (NSA) to media outlets. The latest document he released reveals that the NSA monitored communications of delegates at the Copenhagen climate summit.
At the event, Snowden said there were more “important” documents to be released. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the internet, also joined Snowden on stage and described him as a “hero”.
Berners-Lee recently said that the internet needed its own Magna Carta to protect users. Snowden agreed with the idea saying it was “exactly what we need”, and added, “We need to encode our values not just in writing but in the structure of the internet”.
Snowden also called on technology firms to protect their users by encrypting all web pages. He said, “The biggest thing an internet company in America can do today, right now, without consulting with lawyers, to protect the rights of users worldwide, is to enable SSL web encryption in every page you visit.
“The reasons this matters is today, of you look at a copy of ‘1984’ on Amazon.con, the NSA can see a record of that, the Russian intelligence can see a record of that, the Chinese service can see a record of that, the French service, the German service, the services of Andorra. They can all see it because it’s unencrypted.”