Gates Predicts Big Technological Leaps

Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said Thursday he expects the next decade to bring even greater technological leaps than the past 10 years. In a speech to the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Gates speculated that some of the most important advances will come in the ways people interact with computers: speech-recognition technology, tablets that will recognize handwriting and touch-screen surfaces that will integrate a wide variety of information.

"I don't see anything that will stop the rapid advance," Gates said, noting that technological change driven by academia and corporate researchers continued even after the Internet stock bubble burst in 2000. Gates also said the coming years will bring rapid changes in media as television increasingly becomes a targeted medium, where viewers can select niche content for news, sports and entertainment.

"TV will be based on the Internet; it will be an utterly different thing," he said.

Gates' speech came after he testified to Congress on Wednesday advocating greater investment in math and science education and more relaxed immigration rules that would allow foreigners who obtain college degrees in the United States to work here after graduation. Current policy, he said, forces many bright, capable students to return to their native countries after the U.S. has invested in their education. Gates said Thursday he was optimistic that policy makers would make the right decisions about investing in technology and human capital, though he acknowledged that such investments don't pay off immediately.

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