Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Saturday called bio-terrorism a danger to the world, saying the next epidemic “could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent” and could kill more than 30 million people within one year. Speaking at a security conference in Munich, Gates said nations could not “ignore the link between health security and international security,” The Guardian reported.
“Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists...say there is a reasonable probability that the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years,” Gates said. Citing the example of a two-year-long flu pandemic which began in 1918, Gates said the world could not get complacent regarding health threats. “The fact that a deadly global pandemic has not occurred in recent history shouldn’t be mistaken for evidence that a deadly pandemic will not occur in the future,” he said.
While advances in medical technology, drugs and vaccines will help contain epidemics, nations must prepare for a pandemic the same way they prepare for a biological attack, Gates, who also runs a global health campaign, said.
In a separate interview with Quartz, the Microsoft co-founder also supported the idea of taxing companies’ use of robots in an effort to mitigate the social cost of automation. “You cross the threshold of job replacement of certain activities all sort of at once,” Gates said. “You can’t just give up that income tax, because that’s part of how you’ve been funding that level of human workers.”
Ever since stepping down from Microsoft in 2008, Gates and his wife Melinda Gates have devoted time to health campaigns and innovation through their Gates Foundation. The two have also pledged to leave their fortune to charity when they die.