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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

October 27, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Bill Gates at UW: “The Opportunity Ahead”

There’s a packed house in the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen Center, where Bill Gates is delivering a lecture on advances in computing.

Gates talked about how dramatically the cost of computing has fallen, especially storage, and advances in modeling that benefit his work at the Gates Foundation.

Gates demonstrated Kinect Fusion, a Microsoft research project using the Kinect sensor to capture and render a 3D model of objects. First he scanned in a dollhouse on a desk, and then he scanned Professor Ed Lazowska, rendering him on screen covered with balls that he could brush off with gestures.

He also talked about work that Professor Zoran Popovic is doing to create games that make math learning more fun, using a grant from the foundation. The research uses computer science to modify and advance the games as students progress.

“Imagine if we can make math fun, make it personalized, what a huge contribution that would be,” he said.

Advanced computer modeling techniques that Gates worked on with Bellevue’s Intellectual Ventures are being used to work toward the eradication of diseases such as malaria and polio. So far smallpox is the only human disease to have been eradicated but Gates is optimistic about polio being next.

“With luck within three years the final 10 countries where we have those cases will drop to zero and that will become the second human disease to be eradicated,” he said.

Gates also listed areas that he’s excited about, all of which will benefit from applications of computer science to solve challenges. They are: Energy, education, healthcare, population growth, development and sanitation and water quality.

“I’m optimistic you’ll solve all these problems,” he told the students packing the atrium.

The event is being webcast here.

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Watch live streaming video from billgates at livestream.com

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