President Donald Trump recently seemed to offer Microsoft founder Bill Gates the vacant role of White House science adviser, the tech mogul said in an interview published Monday.
The fellow billionaires had discussed a number of topics together — universal vaccines, foreign aid and education — during the first two times they convened. But in the course of their third-ever meeting on March 15, the two talked mostly about global health and how secure the planet was from potential biological warfare, as well as other pandemics natural or imposed, according to STAT, which interviewed Gates.
A new type of terrorism — in which one conceivable option could be “using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus” — could annihilate more than 30 million people in less than a year, Gates said in February 2017.
A likely part of Gates’ consternations about the world’s preparedness (or lack thereof) for massive infections is the vacancy of an adviser in the Trump administration to help address such apocalyptic possibilities, among other initiatives.
“I mentioned: ‘Hey, maybe we should have a science adviser,'” Gates told STAT. “He said: Did I want to be the science adviser?”
Gates recalled telling Trump that such a role wouldn’t be “a good use” of his time. He also told STAT he wasn’t sure if it “was a serious thing or not,” as Trump could have been asking if he was somewhat subtly vying for the job.
Gates isn’t the only one to advocate for the need of filling such a position, as many in the scientific community have argued the same. Former President Barack Obama used his highest ranking science adviser to address the spread of the Ebola virus within the U.S.
Like Gates, several others perceive a void for that post as a sign Trump doesn’t realize the ostensible urgency for the government to have more involvement in the fields of health and science. But it’s also possible the president is having difficulty finding the right person to assume and stay within the role — a struggle that has seemed to occur for other positions.
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