Bill Gates dropped out of college because he saw a digital revolution happening and he wanted to help shape it.
He and Paul Allen went on to co-found Microsoft and the technology they created was fundamentally transformative. "The chance to be part of the software revolution empowering people was the biggest thing I have gotten to do," he reveals in a reddit "Ask me Anything."
Today's graduates can make a similar mark on society, according to Gates. He sees three areas as having the most opportunity for impact :
1. Artificial intelligence
"We have only begun to tap into all the ways it will make people's lives more productive and creative," he says.
"Making it clean, affordable, and reliable will be essential for fighting poverty and climate change," according to Gates.
The field is "ripe with opportunities to help people live longer, healthier lives," says Gates.
Gates' world view is decidedly optimistic.
"When you tell people the world is improving, they often look at you like you're either naive or crazy," says Gates, in a blog post he published this week. "But it's true. And once you understand it, you start to see the world differently.
"If you think things are getting better, then you want to know what's working, so you can accelerate the progress and spread it to more people and places," he says.
"It doesn't mean you ignore the serious problems we face," continues Gates. "It just means you believe they can be solved, and you're moved to act on that belief."
The idea guides Gates' own philanthropic work. Worth $87 billion, he has pledged to give away the majority of his wealth. His namesake foundation works to improve the health of children living in poverty, empower women and children and fight infections diseases that affect the poorest people in the world.
"This is an amazing time to be alive," says Gates. "I hope you make the most of it."