Bill Gates Names the Hottest Sectors for Jobs

By: Nancy Ordman

What would Bill Gates do if he dropped out of college today? Gates, arguably the most famous Harvard dropout -- fielded this question at a forum hosted by Columbia University. He is not advocating dropping out of college; indeed, one of the Gates Foundation’s signature priorities is promoting education. Gates took this opportunity to single out areas where he sees great potential for job creation and impact.

Artificial Intelligence

Gates pointed to Google DeepMind’s successful victory over the world’s top Go player as a sign of the advances in artificial intelligence. Deep learning, which exploits the availability of prodigious amounts of computing power to simulate activity in the neocortex, is responsible for remarkable advances in speech and image recognition, among other applications. Data science and data mining are related AI disciplines that are producing growing numbers of jobs. “The ability for artificial agents to read and understand material is going to be phenomenal,” says Gates. “Anything connected with that would be an exciting lifetime career.”

Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Energy Sector

This sector is ripe for innovative thinking due to high demand for “reliable, cheap and clean” energy sources. Continued reduction of the generation cost of renewable energy from sources such as wind and solar is an area where incremental improvements make the technologies more attractive. Improved storage systems, particularly innovative storage battery designs, also will drive down costs and increase adoption. According to Gates, “the innovations will be profound, and there are many paths to get to where we need to go.”

Biotechnology

Developments in biotechnology are moving fast. For example, the advent of CRISPR technology and its gene-editing potential for developing disease treatments will drive demand for scientists and medical doctors. Novel materials and 3D printing are opening up new paths for rehabilitative medicine, among other career paths. Growing health problems like obesity, cancer and depression will spur new areas of research.