Bill Gates says better Software Modeling is key to solve complex problems

About two years ago, I started down the path of studying software modeling methods that work for data centers.  Over the last 6 months I've seen more growth in this area. 

With Bill Gates making the calling for software modeling for complex problems, there is a good chance there will be even more growth over the next 6 months.

CNET's Ina Fried reports on Bill's conversation on software modeling.


August 6, 2010 12:35 PM PDT

Bill Gates: Better software modeling is a key

by Ina Fried

LAKE TAHOE, Calif.--A key to many hard problems, from using nuclear power to combating diseases, is better software modeling, Bill Gates said on Friday.

While it's not surprising that he's a fan of using software to help solve hard problems, it is somewhat surprising that there aren't already good models for some diseases.

"There's no disease-modeling software," he said, speaking at the end of the three-day Techonomy conference here. "There is none. Why is flu seasonal? We don't know."

Why model? Bill says.

He conceded that the models never get things right exactly, but he said, "You are a hundred times smarter doing it that way than just going out there (without such models)."

"What you are doing is constantly tweaking them to match the finite data set you have," he said.

Bill has figured out the modeling concept as part of the nuclear power project he has funded Terrapower.

For example, Gates said that it takes a really long time to get a new nuclear power plant technology to market, longer even than the patent that might allow a successful invention to be profitable.

"You are not going to have a lot of people putting down money when the length of the project is longer than the length of the patent," Gates said, speaking at the Techonomy conference here.

It's not even certain that one could do it in their lifetime and he said a lot of people like to focus on projects that will happen in their lifetimes, "particularly if you aren't that religious," a category in which he said he falls.

Although some areas need help, Gates said creating new forms of energy will lead to new wealth. "A few somebodies will get very rich making those breakthroughs."

If we knew a particular solar or nuclear technology were a sure thing, he said, our power issues would be complete. But, he said, "boy are there a lot of problems that need to be solved."

There are some people thinking of data center modeling, but only a very few are looking at the complexity of the total system, including social and environmental in addition to the economics and technical issues.  With time and the growth of modeling in other areas, more people will discover what Bill is talking about.