Microsoft’s Bill Gates: Harvard commencement speech transcript (included Chinese translation) / 比爾蓋茲在哈佛大學畢業典禮上的演講

President Bok, former President Rudenstine, incoming President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, parents, and especially, the graduates:

Bok 校長,Rudenstine 前校長,新任的 Faust 校長,哈佛理事會的各位成員,各位理事,各位老師,各位家長,尤其你們各位畢業生:

I’ve been waiting more than 30 years to say this: “Dad, I always told you I’d come back and get my degree.”


I want to thank Harvard for this timely honor. I’ll be changing my job next year … and it will be nice to finally have a college degree on my resume.


I applaud the graduates today for taking a much more direct route to your degrees. For my part, I’m just happy that the Crimson has called me “Harvard’s most successful dropout.” I guess that makes me valedictorian of my own special class … I did the best of everyone who failed.


But I also want to be recognized as the guy who got Steve Ballmer to drop out of business school. I’m a bad influence. That’s why I was invited to speak at your graduation. If I had spoken at your orientation, fewer of you might be here today.

但是,我想提醒大家,我讓 Steve Ballmer(註:微軟總經理)也從哈佛商學院退學了。因此,我有著惡劣的影響力。這就是為什麼我被邀請到畢業典禮上演講,如果是在入學歡迎儀式上演講,那麼能夠堅持到今天的人也許會少得多吧。

Harvard was just a phenomenal experience for me. Academic life was fascinating. I used to sit in on lots of classes I hadn’t even signed up for. And dorm life was terrific. I lived up at Radcliffe, in Currier House. There were always lots of people in my dorm room late at night discussing things, because everyone knew I didn’t worry about getting up in the morning. That’s how I came to be the leader of the anti-social group. We clung to each other as a way of validating our rejection of all those social people.

對我來說,哈佛的求學是一段非凡的經歷。校園生活很有趣,我常去旁聽我沒選修的課。哈佛的課外生活也很棒,我在 Radcliffe 過著逍遙自在的日子。每天我的寢室裡總有很多人一直待到半夜,討論著各種事情。因為大家都知道我從來就不需煩惱第二天必須準時早起。這使得我變成了校園裡那些不安分學生的頭頭,我們互相黏在一起,做出一種拒絕所有正常學生的姿態。

Radcliffe was a great place to live. There were more women up there, and most of the guys were science-math types. That combination offered me the best odds, if you know what I mean. This is where I learned the sad lesson that improving your odds doesn’t guarantee success.

Radcliffe 是個過日子的好地方,那裡女生比男生多,而且大多數男生都是理工科的,這種狀況為我創造了最好的機會,如果你們明白我的意思。可惜,我正是在這裡學到了人生中悲傷的一課:機會大,並不等於你就會成功。

One of my biggest memories of Harvard came in January 1975, when I made a call from Currier House to a company in Albuquerque that had begun making the world’s first personal computers. I offered to sell them software.

我在哈佛最難忘的回憶之一,發生於 1975 年 1 月。那時,我從宿舍打了一通電話給位於 Albuquerque 的一家公司,他們已經在著手製造世界上第一台個人電腦。我提出向他們出售軟體的想法。

I worried that they would realize I was just a student in a dorm and hang up on me. Instead they said: “We’re not quite ready, come see us in a month,” which was a good thing, because we hadn’t written the software yet. From that moment, I worked day and night on this little extra credit project that marked the end of my college education and the beginning of a remarkable journey with Microsoft.


What I remember above all about Harvard was being in the midst of so much energy and intelligence. It could be exhilarating, intimidating, sometimes even discouraging, but always challenging. It was an amazing privilege – and though I left early, I was transformed by my years at Harvard, the friendships I made, and the ideas I worked on.


But taking a serious look back … I do have one big regret.


I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world – the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.


I learned a lot here at Harvard about new ideas in economics and politics. I got great exposure to the advances being made in the sciences.


But humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries – but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.

但是人類最大的進步並不是來自於這些發現 — 而是在於那些被用來減少不平等的創見。

Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity – reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.

不論是透過何種方式 — 民主制度、健全的公眾教育體系、高品質的醫療保健,還是廣泛無限制的經濟機會 — 消彌不平等始終是人類的最高成就。

I left campus knowing little about the millions of young people cheated out of educational opportunities here in this country. And I knew nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing countries.


It took me decades to find out.


You graduates came to Harvard at a different time. You know more about the world’s inequities than the classes that came before. In your years here, I hope you’ve had a chance to think about how – in this age of accelerating technology – we can finally take on these inequities, and we can solve them.


Imagine, just for the sake of discussion, that you had a few hours a week and a few dollars a month to donate to a cause – and you wanted to spend that time and money where it would have the greatest impact in saving and improving lives. Where would you spend it?

為了討論的方便,請想像一下,假如你每個星期可以捐獻一些時間、每個月可以捐獻一些錢 — 你希望這些時間和金錢,可以用到對拯救生命和改善人類生活有最大作用的地方。你會選擇什麼地方?

For Melinda and for me, the challenge is the same: how can we do the most good for the greatest number with the resources we have.

對 Melinda(註:蓋茲的妻子)和我來說,這也是我們面臨的問題:我們如何能將我們擁有的資源發揮出最大的作用。

During our discussions on this question, Melinda and I read an article about the millions of children who were dying every year in poor countries from diseases that we had long ago made harmless in this country. Measles, malaria, pneumonia, hepatitis B, yellow fever. One disease I had never even heard of, rotavirus, was killing half a million kids each year – none of them in the United States.

在討論過程中,Melinda 和我讀到了一篇文章,裡面說在那些貧窮的國家,每年有數百萬的兒童死於那些在美國早已不成問題的疾病。麻疹、瘧疾、肺炎、B 型肝炎、黃熱病、還有一種以前我從未聽說過的輪狀病毒,這些疾病每年導致 50 萬兒童死亡,但是在美國一個死亡病例也沒有。

We were shocked. We had just assumed that if millions of children were dying and they could be saved, the world would make it a priority to discover and deliver the medicines to save them. But it did not. For under a dollar, there were interventions that could save lives that just weren’t being delivered.


If you believe that every life has equal value, it’s revolting to learn that some lives are seen as worth saving and others are not. We said to ourselves: “This can’t be true. But if it is true, it deserves to be the priority of our giving.”


So we began our work in the same way anyone here would begin it. We asked: “How could the world let these children die?”


The answer is simple, and harsh. The market did not reward saving the lives of these children, and governments did not subsidize it. So the children died because their mothers and their fathers had no power in the market and no voice in the system.


But you and I have both.


We can make market forces work better for the poor if we can develop a more creative capitalism – if we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities. We also can press governments around the world to spend taxpayer money in ways that better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes.

我們可以讓市場為窮人服務得更好,如果我們能夠設計出一種更有創新性的資本主義制度 — 如果我們可以改變市場,讓更多的人可以獲得利潤,或者至少可以維持生活 — 那麼,這就可以幫到那些正在極端不平等的狀況中受苦的人們。我們還可以向全世界的政府施壓,要求他們將納稅人的錢,花到更符合納稅人價值觀的地方。

If we can find approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business and votes for politicians, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world. This task is open-ended. It can never be finished. But a conscious effort to answer this challenge will change the world.


I am optimistic that we can do this, but I talk to skeptics who claim there is no hope. They say: “Inequity has been with us since the beginning, and will be with us till the end – because people just … don’t … care.” I completely disagree.

在這個問題上,我是樂觀的。但是,我也遇到過那些感到絕望的懷疑主義者。他們說:「不平等從人類誕生的第一天就存在,到人類滅亡的最後一天也將存在。 — 因為人類對這個問題根本不在乎。」我完全不能同意這種觀點。

I believe we have more caring than we know what to do with.


All of us here in this Yard, at one time or another, have seen human tragedies that broke our hearts, and yet we did nothing – not because we didn’t care, but because we didn’t know what to do. If we had known how to help, we would have acted.


The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much complexity.


To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see a solution, and see the impact. But complexity blocks all three steps.


Even with the advent of the Internet and 24-hour news, it is still a complex enterprise to get people to truly see the problems. When an airplane crashes, officials immediately call a press conference. They promise to investigate, determine the cause, and prevent similar crashes in the future.

即使有了網際網路和 24 小時播送的新聞,讓人們真正發現問題所在,仍然十分困難。當一架飛機墜毀了,官員們會立刻召開新聞發布會,他們承諾進行調查、找到原因、防止將來再次發生類似事故。

But if the officials were brutally honest, they would say: “Of all the people in the world who died today from preventable causes, one half of one percent of them were on this plane. We’re determined to do everything possible to solve the problem that took the lives of the one half of one percent.”

但是如果那些官員敢說真話,他們就會說:「在今天這一天,全世界所有可以避免的死亡之中,只有 0.5% 的死者來自於這次空難。我們決心盡一切努力,調查這個 0.5% 的死亡原因。」

The bigger problem is not the plane crash, but the millions of preventable deaths.


We don’t read much about these deaths. The media covers what’s new – and millions of people dying is nothing new. So it stays in the background, where it’s easier to ignore. But even when we do see it or read about it, it’s difficult to keep our eyes on the problem. It’s hard to look at suffering if the situation is so complex that we don’t know how to help. And so we look away.

我們並沒有很多機會了解那些死亡事件。媒體總是報告新聞 — 而幾百萬人將要死去這件事卻並非新聞。如果沒有人報導,那麼這些事件就很容易被忽視。另一方面,即使我們確實目睹了事件本身或者看到了相關報導,我們也很難持續關心這些事件。看著他人受苦是令人痛苦的,何況問題又如此複雜,我們根本不知道如何去幫助他人。所以我們會將頭轉過去不看它。

If we can really see a problem, which is the first step, we come to the second step: cutting through the complexity to find a solution.


Finding solutions is essential if we want to make the most of our caring. If we have clear and proven answers anytime an organization or individual asks “How can I help?,” then we can get action – and we can make sure that none of the caring in the world is wasted. But complexity makes it hard to mark a path of action for everyone who cares — and that makes it hard for their caring to matter.


Cutting through complexity to find a solution runs through four predictable stages: determine a goal, find the highest-leverage approach, discover the ideal technology for that approach, and in the meantime, make the smartest application of the technology that you already have — whether it’s something sophisticated, like a drug, or something simpler, like a bednet.


The AIDS epidemic offers an example. The broad goal, of course, is to end the disease. The highest-leverage approach is prevention. The ideal technology would be a vaccine that gives lifetime immunity with a single dose. So governments, drug companies, and foundations fund vaccine research. But their work is likely to take more than a decade, so in the meantime, we have to work with what we have in hand – and the best prevention approach we have now is getting people to avoid risky behavior.


Pursuing that goal starts the four-step cycle again. This is the pattern. The crucial thing is to never stop thinking and working – and never do what we did with malaria and tuberculosis in the 20th century – which is to surrender to complexity and quit.


The final step – after seeing the problem and finding an approach – is to measure the impact of your work and share your successes and failures so that others learn from your efforts.

在發現問題和找到解決方法之後,就是最後一步 — 評估工作結果,將你的成功經驗或者失敗經驗傳播出去,這樣其他人就可以從你的努力中有所收獲。

You have to have the statistics, of course. You have to be able to show that a program is vaccinating millions more children. You have to be able to show a decline in the number of children dying from these diseases. This is essential not just to improve the program, but also to help draw more investment from business and government.


But if you want to inspire people to participate, you have to show more than numbers; you have to convey the human impact of the work – so people can feel what saving a life means to the families affected.


I remember going to Davos some years back and sitting on a global health panel that was discussing ways to save millions of lives. Millions! Think of the thrill of saving just one person’s life – then multiply that by millions. … Yet this was the most boring panel I’ve ever been on – ever. So boring even I couldn’t bear it.

幾年前,我去瑞士達沃斯旁聽一個全球健康問題論壇,會議的內容有關於如何拯救幾百萬條生命。天哪,是幾百萬!想一想吧,拯救一個人的生命已經讓人何等激動,現在你要把這種激動再乘上幾百萬倍…… 但是,不幸的是,這是我參加過的最最乏味的論壇,乏味到我無法強迫自己聽下去。

What made that experience especially striking was that I had just come from an event where we were introducing version 13 of some piece of software, and we had people jumping and shouting with excitement. I love getting people excited about software – but why can’t we generate even more excitement for saving lives?

那次經歷之所以讓我難忘,是因為之前我們剛剛發布了一個軟體的第 13 個版本,我們讓觀眾激動得跳了起來,甚至喊出聲來。我喜歡人們因為軟體而感到激動,那麼我們為什麼不能夠讓人們因為能夠拯救生命而感到更加激動呢?

You can’t get people excited unless you can help them see and feel the impact. And how you do that – is a complex question.


Still, I’m optimistic. Yes, inequity has been with us forever, but the new tools we have to cut through complexity have not been with us forever. They are new – they can help us make the most of our caring – and that’s why the future can be different from the past.


The defining and ongoing innovations of this age – biotechnology, the computer, the Internet – give us a chance we’ve never had before to end extreme poverty and end death from preventable disease.

這個時代無時無刻不在湧現出新的革新 — 生物技術,電腦,網際網路 — 它們給了我們一個從未有過的機會,去終結那些極端的貧窮和非惡性疾病的死亡。

Sixty years ago, George Marshall came to this commencement and announced a plan to assist the nations of post-war Europe. He said: “I think one difficulty is that the problem is one of such enormous complexity that the very mass of facts presented to the public by press and radio make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street to reach a clear appraisement of the situation. It is virtually impossible at this distance to grasp at all the real significance of the situation.”


Thirty years after Marshall made his address, as my class graduated without me, technology was emerging that would make the world smaller, more open, more visible, less distant.


The emergence of low-cost personal computers gave rise to a powerful network that has transformed opportunities for learning and communicating.


The magical thing about this network is not just that it collapses distance and makes everyone your neighbor. It also dramatically increases the number of brilliant minds we can have working together on the same problem – and that scales up the rate of innovation to a staggering degree.


At the same time, for every person in the world who has access to this technology, five people don’t. That means many creative minds are left out of this discussion — smart people with practical intelligence and relevant experience who don’t have the technology to hone their talents or contribute their ideas to the world.


We need as many people as possible to have access to this technology, because these advances are triggering a revolution in what human beings can do for one another. They are making it possible not just for national governments, but for universities, corporations, smaller organizations, and even individuals to see problems, see approaches, and measure the impact of their efforts to address the hunger, poverty, and desperation George Marshall spoke of 60 years ago.

我們需要盡可能地讓更多的人有機會使用新技術,因為這些新技術正在引發一場革命,人類將因此可以互相幫助。新技術正在創造一種可能,不僅是政府,還包括大學、公司、小機構、甚至個人,能夠發現問題所在、能夠找到解決辦法、能夠評估他們努力的效果,去改變那些馬歇爾六十年前就說到過的問題 — 飢餓、貧窮和絕望。

Members of the Harvard Family: Here in the Yard is one of the great collections of intellectual talent in the world.


What for?


There is no question that the faculty, the alumni, the students, and the benefactors of Harvard have used their power to improve the lives of people here and around the world. But can we do more? Can Harvard dedicate its intellect to improving the lives of people who will never even hear its name?


Let me make a request of the deans and the professors – the intellectual leaders here at Harvard: As you hire new faculty, award tenure, review curriculum, and determine degree requirements, please ask yourselves:

請允許我向各位院長和教授,提出一個請求 — 你們是哈佛的智力領袖,當你們雇用新的老師、授予終身教職、評估課程、決定學位頒發標準的時候,請問你們自己如下的問題:

Should our best minds be dedicated to solving our biggest problems?


Should Harvard encourage its faculty to take on the world’s worst inequities? Should Harvard students learn about the depth of global poverty … the prevalence of world hunger … the scarcity of clean water …the girls kept out of school … the children who die from diseases we can cure?

哈佛是否鼓勵她的老師去研究解決世界上最嚴重的不平等?哈佛的學生是否從全球那些極端的貧窮中學到了什麼…… 世界性的飢荒…… 清潔水資源的缺乏…… 無法上學的女童…… 死於非惡性疾病的兒童…… 哈佛的學生有沒有從中學到東西?

Should the world’s most privileged people learn about the lives of the world’s least privileged?


These are not rhetorical questions – you will answer with your policies.


My mother, who was filled with pride the day I was admitted here – never stopped pressing me to do more for others. A few days before my wedding, she hosted a bridal event, at which she read aloud a letter about marriage that she had written to Melinda. My mother was very ill with cancer at the time, but she saw one more opportunity to deliver her message, and at the close of the letter she said: “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

我的母親在我被哈佛大學錄取的那一天,曾經感到非常驕傲。她從沒有停止督促我,去為他人做更多的事情。在我結婚的前幾天,她主持了一個新娘進我家的儀式。在這個儀式上,她高聲朗讀了一封關於婚姻的信,這是她寫給 Melinda 的。那時,我的母親已經因為癌症病入膏肓,但是她還是認為這是又一個傳播她的信念的機會。在那封信的結尾,她寫道:「對於那些接受了許多幫助的人們,他們還在期待更多的幫助。你的能力越大,人們對你的期望也就越大。」

When you consider what those of us here in this Yard have been given – in talent, privilege, and opportunity – there is almost no limit to what the world has a right to expect from us.

想一想吧,我們在這個庭院裡的這些人,被給予過什麼 — 天賦、特權、機遇 — 那麼可以這樣說,沒有什麼可以限制全世界人們期待我們做出貢獻的權力。

In line with the promise of this age, I want to exhort each of the graduates here to take on an issue – a complex problem, a deep inequity, and become a specialist on it. If you make it the focus of your career, that would be phenomenal. But you don’t have to do that to make an impact. For a few hours every week, you can use the growing power of the Internet to get informed, find others with the same interests, see the barriers, and find ways to cut through them.


Don’t let complexity stop you. Be activists. Take on the big inequities. It will be one of the great experiences of your lives.


You graduates are coming of age in an amazing time. As you leave Harvard, you have technology that members of my class never had. You have awareness of global inequity, which we did not have. And with that awareness, you likely also have an informed conscience that will torment you if you abandon these people whose lives you could change with very little effort. You have more than we had; you must start sooner, and carry on longer.


Knowing what you know, how could you not?


And I hope you will come back here to Harvard 30 years from now and reflect on what you have done with your talent and your energy. I hope you will judge yourselves not on your professional accomplishments alone, but also on how well you have addressed the world’s deepest inequities … on how well you treated people a world away who have nothing in common with you but their humanity.

我希望,30 年後你們還會再回到哈佛,想起你們用自己的天賦和能力所做出的一切。我希望,在那個時候,你們用來評價自己的標準,不僅僅是你們的專業成就,而包括你們為改變這個世界深刻的不平等所做出的努力,以及你們如何善待那些遠隔千山萬水、與你們毫不相關的人們,你們與他們唯一的共同點就是同為人類。

Good luck.


Original from: Harvard Commencement and Microsoft’s Bill Gates: Harvard commencement speech transcript


About mtlin

I'm easygoing and sometimes sentimental, also can be very funny. Geek style but social. A Blogger, a Wikipedian and an Engineer.
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