The fact that we're reading about this on the internet means there's no second-guessing who had the last laugh.
Bill Gates once said the internet was the next big thing during a 1995 interview with David Letterman. While Letterman was not convinced at that time, it looked like Gates ended up having the last laugh. In the old footage, the tech expert can be seen talking about the internet when it was still in its early days, convinced that it was going to be life-altering. But the crowd didn't seem to agree, as they laughed when Letterman ridiculed him for his prediction.
During the interview, the billionaire was asked, "What about this internet thing? Do you know anything about that?" To which Gates replied, "Sure." The audience laughed as Letterman asked, "What the hell is it exactly?" Gates explained, "Well, it's become a place where people are publishing information so everybody can have their own homepage, companies are there, the latest information... it's wild what's going on. You can send electronic mail to people. It is the big new thing."
Letterman couldn't comprehend the concept and replied, "Yeah, but you know, it's easy to criticize something you don't fully understand, which is my position here. But I can remember a couple of months ago, there was, like, a big breakthrough announcement that on the internet, or on some computer deal, they were going to broadcast a baseball game. You could listen to a baseball game on your computer and I just thought to myself, 'Does radio ring a bell?'"
While the audience broke into laughter, Gates explained that unlike with radio, the internet would allow users to watch a baseball game whenever they wanted instead of live. He said, "It’s not a huge difference, but you can listen to the baseball game whenever you want to." The host then asked if it was "stored in one of your memory deals," which Gates confirmed was correct. Letterman then asked, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?" Decades later, the answer to that question is 'not really,' right? By the end, Letterman concluded, "It's too bad there is no money in [computers and the internet]." Little did he know!
According to CNBC, Gates dropped out of Harvard at 19 to start Microsoft in 1975. He predicted that while working with computers was great for education, there might even be a way to make computers think on their own. "That turns out to be a very tough problem," Gates said, not really sure of how it worked at the time. "In fact, there has been almost no progress made on it, so no one knows what will happen. Some people think it will never happen."
It looks like he also predicted the advent of artificial intelligence. At the time, he called the idea of an intelligent computer a very "scary thought." More than two decades later, he still believes so. In March 2019, Gates called A.I. both "promising and dangerous." He believes the most terrifying application of artificial intelligence is for warfare. "The place that I think this is most concerning is in weapon systems," Gates said at Stanford, reported CNBC.