Remarks by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Craig Mundie, Microsoft Chief Research & Strategy Officer
Government Leaders Forum Asia 2008
May 9, 2008
EMILIO UMEOKA: Welcome back. At this time I would like to ask you to please rise to greet His Excellency, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia. (Applause.)
Thank you very much, Mr. President. (Not translated), Mr. President, for being here with us today. We’re very grateful for your presence, and for very strong support that you have given to this Government Leaders Forum.
I hope all of you have found the program worthwhile and thought provoking so far. We now move to the final session of this forum.
It’s my personal honor to introduce to you the founder and chairman of Microsoft Corporation. He has always been a great supporter of this event, and also has a deep interest in the Asia-Pacific region. We’re indeed fortunate that he joins us to share his thoughts and vision.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Bill Gates. (Applause.)
BILL GATES: Well, good afternoon. I’m very impressed with the attendance at this event, and I’ve been looking forward to a chance to share my comment about how technology can help with broad development issues, from education to health, to government effectiveness.
Before I focus on that, I want to make a few comments about the tragedy in Myanmar, and offer my condolences to all the families who are victims there.
Of course, it’s a terrible thing, and it’s a great example of where the world needs to cooperate and use all of its ingenuity and technology to help out in any way.
In situations like this often being prepared in advance with the right type of solutions can make a big difference.
Over the years, Microsoft has worked on software to help register people in these environments, and gather data and share data amongst the various agencies, so they’re well coordinated, and we have our team now in Bangkok that’s been pulled together to help with that. We also have on our home page an appeal to users to donate money, and matching all the employee gifts. My foundation announced just yesterday a US$3 million grant going to a number of organizations, including CARE and World Vision to help them with their efforts there. So I know we all hope that we can minimize the damage, and make this an example of governments, private actors like Microsoft, non-governmental groups like the ones I mentioned, and the Gates Foundation coming together to minimize the effect there.
Well, now let me move on and talk about the future of technology. In some ways, if the computer technology stayed the same, if it didn’t improve, we would still have a lot left to do to take full advantage of it: to get our schools, to get rid of government paperwork, to connect people together, to have companies with products in this region, small, medium, or large, able to find all their customers around the world, and collaborate with them in a more efficient way. So we’re not yet taking advantage of what we have.
But, to go with that, the capabilities of these systems are constantly improving, and improving at a pretty phenomenal rate. The personal computer we have today is a million times more powerful than the original IBM personal computer that Microsoft did its MS-DOS software for back in 1981. And that’s just incredible – a million times better – and yet the cost is dramatically less, and the software that let’s you do new things is a lot better.
So this is very exciting that the chip vendors are doubling the number of transistors. The disk vendors are doubling the disk capacity. The optic fiber guys are doubling the speed which you can send information. The high definition screens are getting better and cheaper. The graphics chips are letting us do realistic things. Now, as we bring these things down in size, and bring them down in cost, some really big new applications become possible.
One of the things that I always share my enthusiasm for when I talk about the future of technology is the idea of students having a computer individually, and later today you’re going to hear from a teacher and a student who are experiencing that, and piloting what that’s like. Clearly that has to be a very robust machine that can last – you can drop it – it’s got to be inexpensive, it’s go to be powerful, but the hardware and software changes make it a question of when we can do that, not a question of if we can do that. Textbooks are on their way out. In some countries, that will happen in three or four years. In some it will be five or six, but I’ll be so bold as to say that over the next decade we’ll look at a textbook the same way we look at things like a paper-based encyclopedia today. And we look at it and we say, hey, it’s not rich enough, it’s not animated, it’s not inexpensive enough, it’s not flexible enough, it doesn’t give you the richness that the digital form of that can provide. And so these advances really make a huge difference.
One that I think is particularly interesting is that the way that we interact with these machines will change. We use the keyboard and the mouse today. On the mobile phone, we largely use the little keyboard, and it’s impressive how well people are able to use that small keyboard. But we should complement that with new approaches, and there’s a number of additional approaches that I refer to as natural interface. Speech input, where you talk and the system recognizes it. Pen, where you take a pen and you write ink, and it recognizes what you’ve written. Touch, where you can just point to things and move them around. A great example of this is that in the future the desk of a worker will be a touch-sensitive surface. The cost of that display and having the software that can see what you’re doing will be very, very low, and so you can take different documents, have them laid out there, point to one, expand it, have the sales data, or the survey data, or the quality data, or the calendar easily manipulable so you can navigate through it just by pointing at things, and then if you see something that surprises you, you can take your pen, write a little note, pick which colleague you think should take a look at that, click on that, and off it goes. And it’s very straightforward.
Likewise, your walls will be able to display information, because the cost of the screen will be very low, and they too will have a camera that can watch what you’re doing with the magic of software. And so your whiteboard, what was the chalkboard, will be intelligent. That will be true in the office, in the meeting room, in the classroom, at home. And so things like taking photos and organizing them, just very natural.
This is the kind of thing you’ve seen in science fiction movies, but in fact it’s now moving into the market, and moving into the market in very low cost. Our first product in this space is called Microsoft Surface. It’s a flat table. And just a few months ago that rolled out to the early customers and the response has been phenomenal that people love that natural capability of interacting.
Well now, with computer technology being so amazing, and so empowering to the individual, how do we get it so that we have broad benefit? Whenever we make scientific advances, we’re faced with this dilemma, and when we have new medicines, are they only for the rich? We go all the way back to look at reading, which of course in its early days only the very elites were literate, and it took hundreds of years before low cost printing, and government programs around libraries and schools got to the point where every country took a goal of saying that all the population deserves to the literate. And the world as a whole, most of the world, has done very, very well on that. Well now we have almost a new type of literacy, digital literacy, and making the computer accessible.
Microsoft in its citizenship calls this our Unlimited Potential work, how do we make it accessible? Obviously, as the price comes down that will help, but the real cost is in the network connections and the training, and so we’ll have to take advantage of libraries, community centers and other places where kids and others can gather in order to get out to a broad set of people.
The original statement when Microsoft was founded, now this is over 30 years ago, was a computer in every home, it was actually on every desk and in every home, and with a billion machines in use, we’ve made progress. But a billion is far short of everyone having access. We wouldn’t need six billion machines, because community access can be sufficient, but we probably need to get up at least double or triple what we have, and we need to do this in partnership. So Unlimited Potential speaks to this idea of getting the right partnerships so that the availability is there, availability for the young, the old, the urban, the rural, even people with disabilities have been a big focus here. When I go and see that nowadays a blind person who has access to a Windows computer, because of the speech synthesis capability, they can browse the entire Internet, and have the same information that sighted people have. That is a huge change from waiting years to just get a few books that are printed in Braille and were always very, very expensive and delayed. So the empowerment is there if we make the effort to get the infrastructure in place.
Microsoft alone can’t solve this. We can help with some of the software, the training, but we need to come together with many others, governments, other industry partners, to make that happen. And so we’ve made great progress. In each country we come up with a special program for digital access, just like we do for education, which is the Partners in Learning.
Now the theme to this conference focused on all the key issues, innovation for sustainable economies, e-government e-government is one that is particularly exciting because for the citizen the government is always a little bit unclear, the different levels of government, the different departments, and if they just want to start a business, how can you make that just a few steps? If, they just want to change their address, if they want to get at the resources, or the expertise of the government, how do they find that? Well, technology can help. It can make bidding contracts transparent. It can help citizens understand the budgets, give them a sense of, OK, what’s going on in my region? Even as part of the political process, to go and see what different people are saying, look at the speeches, it is very helpful element. It’s drives openness.
Some of the Nordic countries are maybe the most extreme in this, taking and even putting every little expense online, so you can see what did the prime minister eat for lunch, how much did it cost. You don’t necessarily have to go that far, but it just shows, it’s cheap enough that that is perfectly reasonable.
The government of Singapore, I would say, has been a great example of investing in e-government. No government in the world has this perfect today, but the smaller countries, including Singapore have probably done better. In many areas, like using technology in universities, or business, the United States is a leader, and there’s a lot of best practices there. E-government, although there are some bright points, it’s not the leader. We look more to the Nordic countries, to Singapore, and others to really see some of these examples.
Singapore has worked very closely with us, in fact, recently did a standard operating agreement which is very forward-looking in terms of exactly how they would use software in connecting together. They’ve also done very creative things, in terms of drawing young people into software development and science, a virtual reality game called iWhiz, and we participated by saying, hey, the winners can come to the Microsoft headquarters.
Another kind of approach that is fairly new, and I think could be quite exciting, is something that’s going on in Korea, that is taking a whole area where there’s a lot of investment and development being done, both business and offices, and really building it to be a digital city from the start. This is called Songdo (http://www.songdo.com) and, in fact, the developer and some of the people in the Korean government involved with this are here at the conference.
We’ve signed a memorandum of understanding to have Microsoft participate in the architecture, and help make sure that it really is quite different, whether it’s the education, or the accessibility of the students. And we’ll have an IT academy in there, connecting up, letting people use phones, and PCs, really an integrated approach. When you get to start from scratch in the infrastructure, we ought to be able to do some interesting things. And I think there’s a lot of learning that will come out of that.
One thing that we do broadly are what we call innovation centers. That’s because we measure ourselves in each country by the number of commercial partners we have, the amount of business they do, that’s always 10 times greater than what we do, so they can create more jobs, and transfer skills. But, we also want to start small companies, and that’s where these innovation centers come in.
Here in Indonesia, we have four of those that have been quite successful, Bandung, University of Indonesia, Sepuluh Nopember Institute, Gadjah Mada, and we’re now announcing a fifth one of those, which we’re very enthused about. All of these are connected to our program for software developers, and now we have 72 software developers that we work with, and some great successes, where entrepreneurs are doing good things. And we expect to see more of that. The fifth innovation center being announced today is at UPH, in Jakarta, and that should be a great addition for us.
And we tune those innovation centers according to the focus in each country. Here in Indonesia, they’re looking at what they call creativity-type work, where they think they can do well, and so that’s one of the things that our innovation centers are helping out with.
Another thing that’s been very interesting is that the phenomena of Internet cafes has grown up, is very large, and some of that, of course, is just about gaming. But some of it’s about communications and using productivity software. We want to make that as easy as possible. Many of the people who start in cafes later will get their own machine, or maybe they’re just traveling without their machine, and so it really facilitates involvement in Windows software.
One of our partners helping drive this forward is Netopia in the Philippines. They have a very successful chain of Internet cafes, 176 outlets. And we’ve just agreed that they’ll get our digital literacy courses for Office and other products available there, so people can come in and get certification, and we’re making it very easy to do productivity. Those will be Windows machines, easy to use the latest software in the right way.
Partners in Learning, which is about reaching students, is, again, crafted country-by-country. We’ve now reached 100 million students with that. It’s a great milestone, because we’ve only been at that about four years now. Here in Indonesia it’s 7-1/2 million, so a meaningful part of the total, but obviously given the size of the country a lot of room to grow the number. So as we get that 100 million up, the increase in Indonesia will be a big part of that.
Now, making curriculum in schools interesting for students is an important thing. Of course, kids are exposed to TV, they’re exposed to video games, so when the teacher says, hey, science is neat, or learning some topic is neat, you need something that lets the teacher present it in an exciting way. So we’re always looking for software partners who can help with that.
Another announcement here is a new partnership with what’s called the WETA Workshop. This is an Oscar-winning company in New Zealand. They were involved in Lord of the Rings, and the software developer is an Australian company called NTICED. They’ve developed this MARVIN animation platform that is simple enough to use, and quick enough, that educators everywhere will be able to download this for free, and set up different types of software, targeted at a subject, targeted at people with disabilities, targeted at people who are unemployed. Really the tool is a very flexible tool. I had a chance to see how effective this is this afternoon. And I’d like to ask J. Easterby Wood, of NTICED, to come up and give us a little demo, give us a sense of why we at Microsoft, and these guys are excited about how this will get used.
J. EASTERBY WOOD: Thank you, Bill, for that warm welcome. (Applause.)
Microsoft Partners in Learning over the last few years has challenged many software developers around the world to look at the issues of language, literacy and physical impediments within the classroom. What you’re about to see today is a living example of what that partnership is able to represent. So we’ll build a presentation in real-time, here today, before your eyes. Now, in order for this presentation to be effective, we decided to create the world’s most sophisticated, and articulate agent ever created. The modeling, we didn’t have a lot of (inaudible) however. (Applause.)
Now, in order to set the scene for the presentation we would require something with a local flavor. So we go to the library, select the image for today’s presentation. Now for those of us staying at the Shangri-La, we’ve often been woken up at 2:00 in the morning by someone stumbling past our door, repeating terimakasi, terimakasi, terimakasi. It sounded a lot like Mr. Gates. So we’re going to see just how fluent he’s managed to become over the last 24 hours.
Even though you’ll be seeing the characters sync automatically to Bahasa today, the software enables any teacher, and any student to be able to take any spoken language in the world and sync it to the characters. So at any time a classroom can have multiple languages being created as the content is being delivered.
Of course, now we come to the fun part. MARVIN is about animation, it’s about humor and personality, so if we could have the character greet the crowd. So now let’s see what has been created in this very short period of time, a presentation that the children, and the students and the teachers can create, and take home with them that night to look at on their Xbox, or to view on their mobile Windows device, and send it to their friends around the world.
(Computer-generated foreign language.) (Applause.)
Students around the world, in central Australia, in the heart of our country, we have students building dreamtime stories and exporting them back to Japan. You can imagine how cool it is to send animation back to Japan. In the African continent we have teachers that are taking cultural stories that are being lost for various reasons, and creating with them traditional stories that will last forever. We have, of course, students that had language and literacy learning issues within schools all around the world, now capable of embarking upon journeys in 3D environments, and 2D environments, that will make them second to none.
Partners in Learning had a vision, Microsoft had the software, and I’d just like to take a moment on a company level to thank everyone for helping us achieve what has become a very magical experience. Thank you. (Applause.)
BILL GATES: Well, that’s great. My Bahasa is not too good, so I hope what I said was nice. I’ve got one last thing to show, and I previewed this earlier, and that’s related to the student Tablet. To me this is an important milestone, and Microsoft has been investing in this for a long time. We see lots of ways that we’re going to drive this into the mainstream. In fact, my own daughter goes to a school where she uses a Tablet PC, and it’s phenomenal to see how comfortable she is, how she learns better. She tries out her knowledge, she communicates with her teacher in a new way. It is completely digital. The Internet is there, the ability to create things is there.
Around Asia, we have a number of these pilots going on, including the U-Learning program in Korea. Right now that’s rolled out in 20 schools, with Tablet PCs, and digital textbooks, and they’re connecting up the community, and the teachers, and we’re very lucky today to have a teacher and student involved in that program, Gunmo Lee and his student Young-Woong Park from JANG school in Korea. And they’re going to share what they’ve done. You may want to put your translation headset on if you don’t speak Korean. But, let me welcome them to the stage. (Applause.)
GUNMO LEE (Via translator.): Hello, everyone. Today I would like to show Mr. Bill Gates and all of you how we use U-Learning at our school. I’d like you to imagine the classroom of the future through this demonstration.
Hi, Young-Woong. Could you show us what you and your classmates have learned, and how we do our classes?
YOUNG-WOONG PARK (Via translator.): Sure. Let me start the demonstration right now. This morning I checked my teacher’s blog and opened an interesting video clip related to today’s class.
Information technology has really changed the way people live in the desert. My second class today is social studies, it’s just started and my teacher is using the digital board to tell us what topics we will be studying. My group decides to study how the way we use banking services has changed. Yung-Ho searches for information regarding banking services on the Internet and compiles them on OneNote.
And so the student is searching for information on the Internet. He is using the capture function on OneNote, and he is moving the contents he wants, and as you can see here on the Web page we can copy it and copy it on OneNote, most of it. Using the electronic pad, if the student things that this point is very important, he can underline it or color it.
(Tanyang and Hiyom ?) visit a bank with a Webcam and a Tablet PC, and they use the banking services on site, and try Internet banking, too. The new information learned is summarized and shared with me in the classroom through Live Meeting, and we discuss what we have learned. On the right, you have the documents that have been made by the students, and they’re sharing this information.
I heard that people have to wait for more than three minutes at the bank. As a group leader, I summarize all the contents collected by my teammates and give a PowerPoint presentation. At the end of the presentation, my group uses a Microsoft Communicator to video conference with a bank clerk, and students can ask him questions directly. We’ve invited someone working at the bank to answer your questions. Me first. Why would you go to a bank and not use Internet banking? And after all the presentations, my teacher gives us feedback through the learning management system, the LMS system.
And because the two students at the bank cannot come back to the classroom, we’re continuing the class using VLMS.
I come back home after school, I access the cyber school system, and take a test. Cyber school gives me supplementary learning contents based on my test score. Click all the channels. This is the essay session.
If we use the cyber school system, the contents can be calibrated to the student’s level. In the evening, my teacher sends me an e-mail, and I study the math lesson I will learn tomorrow using digital textbook. In the digital textbook, we have multiple multimedia functions, and the student can study on his or her own using the digital textbook. And the contents that have been inserted by the student is stored on the school’s Web server, and can be used at any time. This is the end of my demonstration on U-learning.
Today is sports day at my school in Korea, even though my teacher and I won’t be able to go, if Bill writes a message cheering on our class, I’m sure our class will win. Bill, could you write a message for my classmates? (Applause.)
BILL GATES: Well, that was a fantastic demonstration of how a digital learning environment really not just empowers the student, but connects everybody together, students with each other, students with the teacher, parents can get involved and see what’s going on. I have my own personal experience of that, and yet even there I saw some new ideas that I think are quite fantastic. So this is the wave of the future in education, and we can make the cost practical. Getting new teachers into this, and getting the new curriculum ready, even though it’s not ready for rolling out to all students in all countries, it’s not too soon to be starting the pilots, and we’re looking forward to working with more people. So that was fantastic that they were able to make the trip down here, and show us their great work.
Another topic that was a big theme here, and one that is very important for governments, for Microsoft, and also for the work I look at in my foundation, is healthcare. Healthcare is a fundamental thing, and yet we need to do better. We need to make it simpler, and cheaper. We need to advance the science. This is an area that Craig Mundie, who is our Chief Research and Strategy Officer, is very passionate about, and he has a team that’s working at Microsoft and reaching out to partners to really drive some great innovation. So let me ask Craig Mundie to come to the stage. (Applause.)
CRAIG MUNDIE: Thanks, Bill.
Good afternoon, everyone. As Bill said, healthcare is the second major theme that we chose for this conference, and it’s one, of course, that is of great importance. If you look at this slide, it becomes obviously why this basic need is something that we need a new approach to. This graphs for many countries around the world what the percentage of the federal government outlays are as a percentage of all outlays that just goes into healthcare. You can see the best country in this chart is Singapore, it’s still at about seven percent, and the U.S. is now approaching 20 percent of all outlays in healthcare. Even with that, we don’t manage to get quality healthcare delivered even to all Americans. And so as the science improves, there is both an opportunity to do better for those who already have healthcare, and ultimately an opportunity to find a new strategy to extend healthcare to many more people.
Besides the cost problem, there are a great number of stresses that are being applied on the global health. First, of course, is just access. Only about 1.6 billion people today have quality coverage, or even adequate healthcare coverage. The demographics are actually working against us. The population of the planet is actually still growing, and will for several decades probably. But healthcare and the quality of food and other things is actually extending life. And so we have more older people, and many of the chronic diseases manifest themselves, and cost a significant amount of money as people grow old. As I said, costs are a big problem.
There are labor shortages, we don’t have enough quality people to perform healthcare at least in the model that we’ve known in the past, and quality is uneven from country to country, hospital to hospital, or even city to city within a given region. And I think all of these things are creating a sense of frustration on the part of the consumer. They have access through the media, and now through computing and the Internet to a great deal more information. Many physicians tell you today that when the patient arrives at their office, they come with a printout from their searching on the Internet of the things that they’ve tried to learn themselves about their medical condition. And sometimes it’s right, and sometimes it’s wrong, but people are definitely more interested in being involved.
So the challenge is, how do we start to scale the advantages of healthcare out to a lot more people, and yet do it in a way that reduces the overall cost burden on the society? And our view is that we have an interesting opportunity on a global scale because of not just the advances in computing, and connectivity, but fundamental advances in biology, and our understanding of how medicine can be practiced in the future. Our view is that medicine itself will become more data driven. Like many other areas of science and engineering, it won’t really advance without aggressive use of information technology. And yet, because medicine is becoming more data driven, we have the ability to move it into a new realm. We think that medicine can take on and have a more predictive component, that more effort can be applied to prevention as opposed to cure. That medicine can become more personalized down to even very, very granular levels over a long period of time. For example, making pharmaceutical dosage really, really accurate on a personal basis. And we think it becomes more participatory, where the consumer is directly involved in both the wellness activities, and the remediation activities to a degree that isn’t possible today.
But if we want to do this, not just in the rich countries, but also in the developing countries, we have to take a new approach. It’s clear that the rich world model of healthcare cannot be scaled to an additional five or six billion people. And so the only opportunity I think to do that is to use computing, the Internet and intelligence through software to scale up the effect of the trained people that we have in this field. And I think that if you look at this graph, it implies that today the number of people that are served by a doctor is higher, of course, in the developing countries than in the developed economies. But in both cases, we need that ratio to improve, and in the case of the developing countries it has to improve to quite a remarkable degree. And so we think that these technologies are the way to do that.
What I want to do in this discussion in the next 15 minutes is let you dream a bit with Bill and I, and the people at Microsoft about what the future of healthcare could be, both in the developed economy environments and in the developing economy countries.
And the reason to dream a little bit is because many of you face the challenge of making policy decisions about your direction. One of the advantages that we have in our business is that we’re very involved in thinking about the future of this important technology called software and computing. And because it’s so ingrained now in almost all fields of engineering and science, it gives us the ability to look into the future and think, how do these come together. And so my role this afternoon will be not to show you what we actually have today in every case, but what we think will happen in the future, and to try to convince you that we are at a tipping point in terms of the strategy for scaling up healthcare, and why from a policy point of view you shouldn’t just focus on trying to incrementally add the same capability just for the next incremental village or person, but how you can have a more advanced concept and begin to move and channel your funding and energy in that direction.
So let me first talk a bit about how this will happen in the developed markets. As I said, we think that the concept of personal wellness will become more and more developed, that people will become very, very aggressively involved in maintaining their health and wellness. So I think what we’ll see is, new technologies through consumer electronics devices, simple medical instrumentation, blood pressure cuffs, glucometers, bathroom scales – many of the things that people have in their home will become smart and connected, just as our cell phones and televisions have become smart and connected. And through that connectivity, we’ll be able to maintain a daily record of the parameters of life, and our own physical status. And as we do that it begins to give us the ability to bring even more sophisticated software to bear on the question of, how am I doing, what should I be doing to do better. So we think we’ll have a lot more advanced analytical software that people will be able to acquire this through the Internet, and apply it to their own personal health record. We think we’ll more and more intelligence applied to medication, perhaps even more customized doses as we’re able to understand the role through genomics of how an individual body reacts to particular classes or individual drugs.
We think that personal health management will begin to move towards a consumer-centric approach, that if you can get a consolidated view of your personal health record, not just the clinical record from when you’ve been ill, but essentially the continuous record of how your body is performing on a daily basis, then when you merge these two things together it gives us the ability to focus on both the wellness aspects as well as the future issues of care.
We think that in the hospital and clinic environment itself that we’re going to see a much greater emphasis on connecting the data, and through that connecting the care together. So that you’ll have less of a completely isolated approach from the different clinical specialties, we’ll get a more holistic view of the individual and their problems. More and more we’ll try to use anticipatory medical practices in order to either eliminate future problems, or at least reduce their long-term cost over time.
So let me show you a video that some people at Microsoft have put together, which is a vision of how all this might come together in a very advanced environment in the future of healthcare. So run the video, please.
Clearly, we have people who can dream about what the future will be like, but we actually are moving to build many of the mechanisms and technologies that will allow that future to happen. Perhaps the bigger challenge, though, is not whether we can build that for the rich world, but whether we can find a way to deliver the quality of care that that is likely to provide for people who don’t have the means to buy that level of capability today.
So when I think about the developing markets, I want to take all of the concepts that we can envision in this rich world medical environment, and think about how we can bring the essence of those into an environment where those facilities, and that level of trained people just are not likely to exist any time in the near future. So let me take one example out of that, and talk a bit about it, as a way to dream with us about why you have to be aggressive in thinking, from a policy point of view, about how the technological advances create these opportunities.
So one of the things I want to talk about is a drugstore in a box. I want to convince you that some time in the not too distant future we’re likely to have an environment where we can do things without the involvement of trained people. That, in essence, people will be a lot more able to support themselves. To try to convince you this is true I’m just going to show you a little medical history, in the form of devices.
Many of you will remember, probably when you were growing up, if they took your temperature they stuck an analog, mercury-filled vial in your mouth with a calibrated scale, and they took your temperature. Today, for $1 or $2 you can buy a digital thermometer, far more accurate and repeatable, and this tiny little device has got a little computer in it. It wasn’t that many years ago that if you were a woman, and you wanted to know if you were pregnant, you had to go and get a blood test, and then you’d wait while they processed that blood test, and after some time they’d come back and tell you whether or not perhaps you were pregnant. Today you can buy a small device, and some strips, and you can basically plug it in and essentially make an instantaneous determination of whether you’re pregnant.
If you’re a diabetic today, it’s a bit like the pregnancy test. You can buy this tiny little computer and a small strip, and take a drop of blood, put it on there, and make an instantaneous determination about your blood sugar levels.
All of these things that used to be a complicated medical procedure, that took a laboratory to process them, are now things that are sold off the shelf, in a drugstore, pretty much around the world, and the prices are very, very low. It’s this mass market around consumer electronics and computing, and the power of software and the microprocessor that allows this kind of thing to happen.
The last device I’ll show you, and it relates a little bit to the demo I’m going to give you, this is essentially an alcohol test meter, a breathalyzer. So for people who need to determine whether they’ve had too much to drink, for example, or if you’re in law enforcement and you want to measure somebody you stop, you now have these very small devices, and you just breathe into it, and it instantly will analyze your components of your breath as you exhale, and from that can determine your blood alcohol level.
So if you think about how these things come together, and you think about one of the big challenges in rural healthcare, it’s going to be how do you get diagnoses done for common ailments, without the involvement of doctors, or even paramedics, and then how do you allow that to go further, where expert systems are able to do the diagnosis, how do you actually do the treatment of non-acute problems, without trained professionals. So I’m going to show you an example of how, again, we think this might be able to be done in the future.
The key element of this probably will be the cell phone. They will become ubiquitous in this environment, including in rural environments. And so let’s talk a bit about what it might be like to use a cell phone as a key human interface to computing systems that would assist me with a diagnostic problem. So let’s say I’m a mother, and I have a sick child, and I want to find out what’s wrong. So I take my cell phone, and I want to basically move into an environment where I’m going to do self-service medicine, as much as I can, because there isn’t any choice, there’s no locally available medical professionals.
So my cell phone may have several things on it, one of which might be the E-Clinic, and what you’re seeing on the screen is what’s on my cell phone here. So I’ll click on this, and it’s connecting me through the wireless network to the E-Clinic. I’ll say I want to talk to the E-Doctor. It says, OK, have the person with the illness take a deep breath and blow into the microphone. So I’ll do that. I’ll talk to that. So just as a breathalyzer does it, this can capture some breath samples, and now it’s going to perform a computational analysis, part in the phone, part by sending data up into the Internet cloud.
Many of these sophisticated analyses used to be a super-computing class problem, but today every desktop computer within the next four or five years, and perhaps even cell phones, will be able to do this kind of analysis. So it performs this, it decomposes the components of my breath. It does a spectral analysis on it. It does some limited DNA processing, and after completing this analysis it determines that my child has streptococcus pneumoniae. So the question is, how do I treat it.
So it says, OK, you should go to the clinic, because medication is available for that. So I take my child, and I wander over to the clinic. So here we have set up a clinic, but there’s basically not necessarily any trained professional people there, and I want to find a way to go to the drugstore.
One of the things that we think may happen now is the ability to essentially print prescription medications, at least for certain families of drugs. Most of you are familiar with the idea of printers that we all use everyday to output things that have liquid ink in them, and people are sitting around thinking about, well, what if I didn’t put ink in there, I put different components of medications in there, and I was able to print them. So it basically has detected that I have a medical prescription dispenser here, which is, in essence, like the technology of a digital printer, and it says, should I send it the prescription, which I was given on my cell phone. So I’ll send it.
So this goes through a process, it prepares the sequence, knows who the child was, what their weight and age, and other elements were, and just as if it was going to print on a piece of paper, it goes through combining the inks, but in this case it’s not just ink, it’s essentially the components of different medicines. So what it does is it actually prints out a set of tablets that you can put on your tongue and they dissolve. And you peel them off like a mailing label, and you put it on your tongue, and it’s essentially a prescription that was printed in this printer. So you get an accurate way of dispensing drugs.
This is not available. This is not something we know how to do today, all right. But, I offer it for your consideration, because we think it will happen, and it will happen much more quickly than people expect, because we’ve already done all of the development of these incredible printing mechanisms, who measure liquid delivery systems in picoliters, and if you think about that as a way to dispense medicines instead of ink, then it’s conceivable that we’ll get this kind of mechanism.
Other companies are working with other types of micro-fluidic systems that will be able to either perform analysis, chemical analysis, or perhaps fabricate other things on the fly.
So I show you this, and so it says, OK, place one tab of medicine on the tongue for each of the six days, and that will address the pneumococcus problem.
So if I could just go back to the slides please. Just to finish up, I think that with people thinking about how to make a printer into a drug store, using the cell phone voice mechanisms I don’t know whether I’ll blow into the cell phone, or I’ll have a little thing like a Bluetooth headset, but it’s essentially some personal medical component. Our ability to bring these things together, to allow do it yourself medicine for a significant part of what people today get no care at all for.
And as we’re able to develop new vaccines, and other mechanisms, and people need to know when to take them, or how to take them, without the involvement of a tremendous amount of local medical personnel, I think it is the combination of the Internet, the computer, the cell phone and many of these kind of breakthroughs where things that used to be a laboratory process suddenly become a very affordable, local, personal capability. But these are the tools with which we can begin to think about bringing a much higher level of healthcare through personal participation, even to another five or six billion people around the world.
So our goal today was to show you certainly some things that you really can do today, and Bill showed some of that in education, and my goal was to show you that we have a lot of people at Microsoft and around the world who are thinking about novel ways to use these complex software and electronic technologies to do things in ways that seem like science fiction when we talk about them, but in practice will arrive much sooner than we expect. And we hope that we can work with you to develop policies that will allow us all to capitalize on this, and address the needs of all those people in the future. So thank you very much.
BILL GATES: OK. Well, we saved the best for last, and so let me say that I’ve been thrilled with the time I’ve spent with the President as part of this meeting. He and I first met three years ago and talked about his vision for Indonesia, and since that time we’ve gotten the government and Microsoft to partner together on a lot of things, a lot of progress, and a lot more to be done. So I’m very excited that he agreed to come and share some of his vision. So let me welcome President Yudhoyono to the stage. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT H. SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO: Thank you, Bill, for your kind introduction. (Speaking Indonesian.) Peace be upon us.
Before I deliver my speech, I would like to make a little comment on what had been excellently presented by Mr. Bill Gates and Mr. Craig Mundie. Alvin Toffler, the author of Future Shock, of The Third Wave, and of Powershift once said, there are three waves of civilizations: the agricultural society, the industrial society and information society. And to be frank, we, Indonesia have those three types of societies. In my speech, I may mention several situations and conditions that may be very much in contrast with what we have seen on the screen. The health future visions, even though part of our society, especially on the information type society, may follow and may join this new technology, and it’s our task as a leader to accelerate the process in bringing our society for the better future. That’s my little comment on this before I deliver my speech.
Mr. Bill Gates, Mr. Craig Mundie, Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure for me to join all of you at this closing plenary session of the Government Leaders Forum Asia 2008. Before anything else, I wish to thank Mr. Bill Gates, Mr. Craig Mundie, and Microsoft for bringing the Government Leaders Forum to Jakarta. The Government of Indonesia is privileged to partner with Microsoft in organizing this important forum. I am very pleased to see so many government and business leaders from all over the world gathered here to focus on how to realize technology’s brightest and most significant promise, the deliverance of the teaming millions from the grips of ignorance, disease, and poverty. The theme of this forum is therefore appropriate, and for Indonesia most timely, serving the citizens the transformative power of information technology in delivering government services, particularly in the fields of education, healthcare, and sustainable development.
That theme is close to my heart, since it is all about serving the people, and serving and protecting the people is what governance is all about, irrespective of political system, historical background or cultural conditions. Serving the people is about improving their lives, responding to the basic needs and aspirations, enabling them to live up to their potentials, and ensuring them not just equality, but also equal opportunity.
All the years I have been in public service, I have been amazed to see beautiful minds, wonderful talents, and great potentials in the countless individuals that I meet all over the country. It is the greatness of God Almighty. (Speaking Indonesian). That’s perhaps the power of imagination evenly to all human beings, rich or poor, old and young. But the sad reality is that many of these potentials remain hidden and locked rather than developed and unleashed. There are many families who have been locked in poverty and ignorance for generations simply because they lack the enabling and empowerment tool to escape that cycle.
I do believe that information technology is the most promising, important tool that the world has ever known to fight the perils of poverty and ignorance. Fifty years ago, someone in a remote Sumatran village would need to cross oceans, and spend a lot of money in order to gain access to worldly knowledge and information. But today, any individual, even in the most remote place, can have instant access to 50 billion pages of information about anything with a single click of the mouse. That is simply amazing. And a global citizen in the 21st Century not only has the right to life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness, he or she, irregardless of his or her nationality, race, religion, or income, also has the right to an e-mail address with luck for unlimited memory space. This is truly a fascinating digital democracy. And I believe we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg as the Internet grows and become more accessible to more citizens around the world.
With the help of information technology, any government can deliver services to the people much faster and more efficiently. But to us in Indonesia, with a population of 230 million, the task is a great challenge. In the field of education, for instance, we have 55 million students, 2.7 million teachers, and 293,000 schools. Thus it is a difficult struggle for us to meet the goal of connecting half of all educational institutions in an ICT network, and achieving 50 percent national illiteracy by 2015. We are facilitating e-learning by creating the infrastructure for schools and students to be connected. The target for 2009 is to connect 1.43 million computers in our schools. We must also develop and provide e-books, and interactive educational programs for this network. We will need all the help that we can get in this effort.
In government, and in the private business sector, information technology can help increase productivity, efficiency, responsiveness, transparency and accountability as we have known. Not only has it enabled government to deliver services faster, and more efficiently, it has also empowered the people by giving them easier access to information about the work of government. It has enabled them to monitor and get involved in policy implementations.
Let me give you the simplest example. At the start of my term, I introduced the use of SMS to interact with the whole nation, anyone can send me a message on 9949. I was immediately buried in a balance of messages telling me what to do to solve the nation’s problem, and also a score of SMS containing personal, including marital problems. (Laughter.) But my office has been able to cope with it very well. Relevant complaints are, as a matter of course, passed on to the relevant authorities for prompt actions.
A more complex example is the role of information technology in our national elections. Without it, this fundamental political exercise would have been extremely difficult to carry out in this archipelago of 17,000 islands covering three time zones. We have some 150 million citizens of voting age spread over 5,100 districts going to some 600,000 polling booths. In 2004, they went to the polls three times. One was to elect members of the Parliament, and twice to elect the president and vice president. Between 2005 and now, this process has been played out in 33 provinces, and for 130 districts to directly elect local officials. It used to take weeks before we knew the final results of the national elections. In 2004, it took only hours to get a fairly accurate quick count.
In times of national disaster, information technology has served us in good step. The post-disaster database on Aceh and Sumatra have sped up recovery, and rehabilitations of communities devastated by the tsunami of December 2004.
Using IT, we have streamlined our bureaucracies, and enhanced efficiency and transparency of our governance. We are now into e-procurement. Our people are paying taxes, and applying for driver’s license, and identification cards online. Next year we’ll be offering to our exporters and importers a computerized national single window to their great convenience.
And, finally, I am proud to say the creative economy, the fourth wave of economic development, is now very much in evidence in Indonesia, because it is based on human creativity and innovation, and usually involves a network of small and medium enterprises, it can lead to sustainable growth. Our creative industries, such as handicraft, fashion design, architecture, advertising, electronic media production, the performing arts, publications, software and other computer services, and interactive games are already going global while serving our large home market. They make up 6.3 percent of the national economy, and account for 5.8 percent of job creation, 7 percent of the numbers of companies, and 10 percent of exports. And they are growing at a rate higher than the rest of the economy. For instance, some 100 Indonesian films are now produced every year, four times the number produced five years ago. Most cinemas now show Indonesian films. Some 80 percent of the music played in Indonesia is locally created. Home grown industries in software, animation and interactive games are now being outsourced internationally.
It has greatly held that our people are blessed with a rich cultural heritage. Indeed, we have a young C generation, creative generation we can be proud of. For example, graphic designer (Alvin Gizana ?) is only 32, but he designed the Web site for Nokia. In the process, he parlayed one computer, one employee operation to an enterprise with 60 employees. Castle Rock is a local animation company that employs young people providing animation services for international producers. A custom made guitar manufacturer, (Mr. Toin ?), sells guitars to famous musicians abroad. A rattan exporter, (Mr. Tonton ?) of Rattanland, increased his export from $30,000 to $1.6 million a year over the last six years. A growing number of our SMEs are selling to customers abroad through the Internet. Many of our music groups have their popular songs being used as ring tones all over the world. In these and many other success stories information technology has been a vital factor.
Still the challenges we face, and the use of information technology are formidable. In the first place, we still need to prepare our society for wider use of information technology. We need to open the minds of our people to innovation, and to win them away from over-dependence on the wealth of our natural resources, and a traditional of paternalisms. In the second place, whether we like it or not, there is a digital divide. The gap is widening between the information technology haves and have-nots. There is a real danger that the world’s poor people will be excluded from the emerging knowledge-based global economy with dire consequences to global peace and security. In Indonesia, a wet archipelagic country with a wet geography, with an immense variety of demographic, ethnic, cultural, and religious groupings, we can ill-afford a digital divide across and within communities. This is a threat to national unity that we must effectively manage.
We have, therefore, taken vigorous methods to address this reality. First, we are reviewing our laws and regulations with a view to prompting all government agencies and institutions toward e-government. We have just passed the first cyber law in Indonesia, which provides robust legal basis for electronic transactions. We are strengthening our intellectual property right laws and regulations, and enforcing them strictly. That is why we are no longer on the USTR priority watch lists.
Second, we are creating a national backbone to connect all of Indonesia, including the remote rural areas of Eastern Indonesia. This is the (Balabaring ?) Project. We are also extending connectivity to villages so that our farmers can easily obtain information from the world at large on prices, demand, supply, and technologies they need.
Third, we are promoting e-literacy through the education system and society as a whole. We are reforming our institutions that have to do with information technology.
Fourth, we are increasing the use of information technology across the board by accelerating its application in the government and private sector. This is a top priority as it is an important factor in the growth of the e-economy. Moreover, we are preparing an action plan for the development of the creative industries. We aim to raise their share of the economy, and their capacity to upshot the labor force from 6 to 8 percent. We intend to double the number of companies in this sector, and hike their export volume to 12 percent by 2015.
Fifth, we actively are cooperating with IT industries and businesses to achieve these objectives. One example is our cooperation with Microsoft, which I personally initiated during my meeting with Mr. Bill Gates in Seattle in 2005. My government is cooperating with Microsoft in many ways through its innovation centers, and its learning programs. We will cooperate with any other company that offers to work with us the way Microsoft is doing now. Indonesia today is undergoing a profound transformation. While the main driving force of this process is the spirit of reforms, political, social, and economic reform, it is also true that this reformation critically helped along by the blessing of science and technology, by the blessing, I should say especially, of information technology.
We are, after all, part of a world that is being transformed by the magic of software. That is why I am particularly pleased at our cooperation with Microsoft. It has global context, it is part and parcel of a movement involving the international civil society in which Microsoft is a leading light. This is a very informal, but real global partnership of government, corporation, and nonprofit, that is now addressing the greatest challenge of our time, and that is the challenge of poverty.
Earlier this year in Davos, Mr. Bill Gates challenged the governments, corporations, and nonprofits of the world. He challenged all of us to engage in what he calls creative capitalism, as a way of addressing problems of education, healthcare, and sustainable development. He proposed that we harness the forces of the market to bring about a better life for the teaming millions who otherwise would be left behind by progress. And I have good news for Mr. Bill Gates, the creative economy that we are forming in Indonesia is our answer to his challenge.
Through this creative economy we are partnering with Microsoft and other corporations, as well as with the civil society of this country, in a strong bid to extend the reach of market forces. The market represents the natural and robust human desire for profit and recognition. Through the creative economy, we can make the market do more for more people than it ever did before. We can make the market the servant, rather than the enemy of social justice. Through the creative economy we will give globalization a human face, and also give the market a human soul.
I thank you. (Applause.)
CRAIG MUNDIE: Thank you, Mr. President, for those remarks. The president and Bill have agreed to answer a few questions in the time that remains, and I’ll moderate this, even though it may be fairly brief. There are going to be some microphones out here, and the president has also agreed to take questions from the audience. Let me just start this off while any of you who have a question, perhaps, proceed to find a microphone.
The president mentioned at the end of his remarks about Bill’s Davos comments about creative capitalism. I thought maybe, since one of the questions that was submitted in advance was related to this corporate social responsibility question, I’d ask Bill to just give a brief comment about his thoughts about creative capitalism, and the role of enterprise in solving these global problems.
BILL GATES: Great. Yes, I got a chance to give that speech as a keynote in Davos back in January. And I was very pleased with the response. Some people disagreeing, but still, a lot of discussion about what should leading companies do, what should rich people do, should there be more philanthropy, how do we help guide the way for these companies, and set examples, how do we have people objectively measure the impact, so that it really is about results.
Already a good dialogue is starting with companies in a number of industries, food, banking, cell phones, of course technology, medicine. And as I get more time after July 1, when I have the foundation as my top priority, I’ll be reaching out to these companies and talking to them about expanding their programs, and making sure that they see a benefit, in terms of hiring young people whose values go beyond just economic profit, or how they’re viewed as a company, as a citizen, in countries throughout the world. That although it will be a bit soft, and hard to make numeric, that they feel it really was smart for them to put some of their top innovators on product innovations that benefit the poorest.
CRAIG MUNDIE: Thanks, Bill.
Mr. President, one of the questions that was directed at you form one of the people, the delegate from India, was along the following lines. Political leaders and policy makers are frequently a bottleneck in the growth and deployment of information and communication technology, for a variety of reasons. As a leader, how do you motivate the policy arm of government to be more aggressive in the use of these technologies?
PRESIDENT H. SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO: Yes, the task of the government is actually to educate all people to promote understanding of all of us, on the importance of the use of IT, in various fields of life. The government has the obligation to ensure that we have correct law, correct policies, and correct regulations, but the private sector must also contribute to the promotion of people awareness, and understanding of this new tool that can improve the lives of their people, of them.
Of course, we have to build more infrastructure across the region, computer systems, Internet, and other software, along with our capacity. That will improve, actually, the overall understanding of our people on the importance of the Internet, and computers, and to improve the capacity of this nation in various ways, education, government, healthcare, and others.
Those are things that, in my view, have to be done by developing countries, especially by Indonesia, realizing that we have many challenges, that we have to overcome local conditions. But, I believe very strongly, I am optimistic with this correct policy, this correct direction, we’ll be able to improve the overall condition of this country in the sense of applying IT in all systems in this country.
BILL GATES: I would just add to that, I think the president there are three things from Indonesia that are probably best practices, the president’s personal involvement in the ICT Council, bringing young, technically savvy people into the government, and then setting ambitious goals, even though they won’t all be met, they drive things forward.
CRAIG MUNDIE: Are there any delegates who would like to ask a question from the floor?
OK. I’ll have another one. This is a question I think that both Bill and the president may have a comment on. We saw today in Bill’s speech a young student who is obviously an adept user of these technologies. Our young people are going to grow up more and more through computers, cell phones, televisions that are smart, with tremendous access to these technologies and the Internet.
So the question is, how do we maintain a balance between the positive and negative uses of the Internet, particularly as they affect children. We see many issues, criminal activities increasing, military activities increasing, and undesirable material is clearly available on the Internet. What do you think the issues and challenges are, both technological, and from a policy and legal point of view, to make the Internet a safe place for kids?
BILL GATES: OK. I’ll start. There clearly are some laws, preventing fake e-mail, making sure that content is labeled appropriately for what it is, so that if it’s not appropriate for children that the filtering software can immediately see that. There are some legal steps that are very helpful. I also think that parental involvement is important. I mean, when your kids reach a certain age, ideally you’d be talking to them about what they’re seeing on the Internet. The software allows you to create a log that you can go and look at the different places they’re visiting. If they’re very young you can set strong filters, as they get older you might loosen that up. If they know you can see what they’re doing, they will probably communicate with you more about that. So it’s very similar to what we’ve always had to do with material in print, it’s just that the Internet makes it more important, because the access to the good and the bad is so much more efficient.
CRAIG MUNDIE: Mr. President?
PRESIDENT H. SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO: Yes, I want to answer from a different perspective. There is always a challenge for every nation, every government, how to make a balance between liberty and security. We have to look at clearly on the good side of technology, and the bad side of that thing. For me, the most important one is to teach, to educate the student, the people, how should we utilize this technology for the benefit of our people, our nation.
Education is a good track to actually build this understanding, this awareness. Education is not only transferring knowledge, introducing technology, but also creating values, and character. That’s why number one is, we have to maintain character building through education, we have to strengthen the societal ethics, and norms, and last but not least, we have to have effective law enforcement measures.
I think we have to do all those methods with one single understanding, that we have to be more creative, to be more innovative, to utilize wisely, and carefully, the advance of technology, and we have to work collectively, the nation, the teachers, the parents, everybody, to avoid the wrong use of this technology. This is my perspective on this.
CRAIG MUNDIE: Thank you gentlemen. I’m sorry the time has been so short. And I really appreciate the president’s remarks, and his willingness to answer these questions. At this point I’d like to ask Emilio to come back and close the conference for us.