A Thousand Brains is filled with fascinating insights into the architecture of the brain and tantalizing clues about the future of intelligent machines.
I’ve done a lot of interviews over the years, but not many where I get to talk about the Gates Foundation’s mistakes, what the future of computing looks like, and the virtues of Samuel L. Jackson playing me in a movie, all in one sitting. And that’s only a few of the topics that people brought up in the “Ask Me Anything” session I did on Reddit Monday.
I did my first AMA a year ago and have posted on Reddit a few times since then, so I knew what to expect. Redditors really will ask you anything. (Of course, you get to pick the ones you want to answer.) The quality of the discussion on the site is high—or it can be, anyway. There’s a ranking system for comments, which makes it easy to skip around and find the most interesting posts. The users are a skeptical bunch and they don’t hold back when it comes to asking tough questions.
On Monday morning, I sat at a keyboard in my office, read the posts on a large wall monitor, and started typing my answers. Over the course of an hour I got to 44 questions, 9 more than last year. Next time maybe I’ll aim for an even 50.
Since Reddit attracts a tech-savvy crowd, it was no surprise that people asked a lot about my experience at Microsoft and the future of technology. I was glad to see plenty of questions about philanthropy too, especially since Melinda and I just published our Annual Letter. My favorite was this: “What’s one of your goals for the next year… and how can we help?” What a nice thing for someone to ask. I talked about improving the debate over education, which is too polarized and focused on the wrong things. I wish we spent less time arguing over things like testing and more time talking about how to help teachers improve.
Here are a few other exchanges that I thought were particularly interesting, fun, or both…
Thanks again to everyone who joined the AMA. Maybe I’ll see you in /r/books sometime…