Riyadh, Nov. 10: Television as we know it today will become obsolete in the next 10 years, said Microsoft founder Bill Gates. He was speaking at the First Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh during his first visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. “I had my children with me recently and while we were walking in a shopping area, there was this record store and my son asked me: ‘What is a record?’ Well, he has never seen a record. If I take him to a museum, he will see one. Yes, he knows what a TV is, but 10 years from now even TV will be something people will look back on and say: ‘Well, how inconvenient that was. You couldn’t carry it with you wherever you wanted to, and you couldn’t organise it the way you would’ve liked to,” Mr Gates said during his keynote address.
He was referring to a sea-change in both the way we watch TV, as well the TV sets themselves. Books will become obsolete too, Mr Gates said. “For interaction today, we primarily use the keyboard. In the future we will be using all sorts of means for interacting with the computer. We are talking about eliminating textbooks or books altogether because we will have a very light thin screen, a tablet-like computer connected to the Internet that you will carry with you at all times.” An interesting revolution is underway, he said. “Ten years ago, when we thought about photographs, we thought about taking a camera, developing a film. And when we thought about organising and sharing our photo collection, it required working on paper. That was not very efficient. Well, today, if you take a photo you can put it on the Internet and have it published in a very rich, automatic way, and yes, in seconds. You can review your catalogue in a very rich way. Amazing, isn’t it?”
Mr Gates gave full support to Saudi Arabia’s economic development plans and announced the signing of a record 14 agreements with Saudi public and private organisations. “The reason your plan is actually realistic is that you have the resources to make that kind of investment,” he told the top Saudi business, government and IT leaders at the forum. He said Saudi Arabia should draw lessons from the huge successes of both the US and India in the world of information technology. “The US has been the strongest in terms of research on IT and that’s where investments in universities are going to help you,” he said. “India has been the strongest in terms of the number of (IT) engineers it has employed in a wide variety of things. There again it was the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) that helped it do that,” he said, heaping fulsome praise on the Indians.