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:

尊敬的 Bok 校长,Rudenstine 前校长,即将上任的 Faust 校长,哈佛集团的各位成员,监管理事会的各位理事,各位老师,各位家长,各位同学:

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.

我为今天在座的各位同学感到高兴,你们拿到学位可比我简单多了。哈佛的校报称我是 “哈佛大学历史上最成功的辍学生”。我想这大概使我有资格代表我这一类学生发言……在所有的失败者里,我做得最好。

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,我还要提醒大家,我使得 Steve Ballmer(注:微软总经理)也从哈佛商学院退学了。因此,我是个有着恶劣影响力的人。这就是为什么我被邀请来在你们的毕业典礼上演讲。如果我在你们入学欢迎仪式上演讲,那么能够坚持到今天在这里毕业的人也许会少得多吧。

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.

对我来说,哈佛的求学经历是一段非凡的经历。校园生活很有趣,我常去旁听我没选修的课。哈佛的课外生活也很棒,我在 Radcliffe 过着逍遥自在的日子。每天我的寝室里总有很多人一直待到半夜,讨论着各种事情。因为每个人都知道我从不考虑第二天早起。这使得我变成了校园里那些不安分学生的头头,我们互相粘在一起,做出一种拒绝所有正常学生的姿态。

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 是个过日子的好地方。那里的女生比男生多,而且大多数男生都是理工科的。这种状况为我创造了最好的机会,如果你们明白我的意思。可惜的是,我正是在这里学到了人生中悲伤的一课:机会大,并不等于你就会成功。

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.

我在哈佛最难忘的回忆之一,发生在 1975 年 1 月。那时,我从宿舍楼里给位于 Albuquerque 的一家公司打了一个电话,那家公司已经在着手制造世界上第一台个人电脑。我提出想向他们出售软件。

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.

我很担心,他们会发觉我是一个住在宿舍的学生,从而挂断电话。但是他们却说:“我们还没准备好,一个月后你再来找我们吧。” 这是个好消息,因为那时软件还根本没有写出来呢。就是从那个时候起,我日以继夜地在这个小小的课外项目上工作,这导致了我学生生活的结束,以及通往微软公司的不平凡的旅程的开始。

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 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?


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.

对 Melinda(注:盖茨的妻子)和我来说,这也是我们面临的问题:我们如何能将我们拥有的资源发挥出最大的作用。

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.

在讨论过程中,Melinda 和我读到了一篇文章,里面说在那些贫穷的国家,每年有数百万的儿童死于那些在美国早已不成问题的疾病。麻疹、疟疾、肺炎、乙型肝炎、黄热病、还有一种以前我从未听说过的轮状病毒,这些疾病每年导致 50 万儿童死亡,但是在美国一例死亡病例也没有。

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.


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.

在这个问题上,我是乐观的。但是,我也遇到过那些感到绝望的怀疑主义者。他们说:“不平等从人类诞生的第一天就存在,到人类灭亡的最后一天也将存在。——因为人类对这个问题根本不在乎。” 我完全不能同意这种观点。

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.


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.

如果我们要让关心落到实处,我们就必须找到解决办法。如果我们有一个清晰的和可靠的答案,那么当任何组织和个人发出疑问 “如何我能提供帮助” 的时候,我们就能采取行动。我们就能够保证不浪费一丁点全世界人类对他人的关心。但是,世界的复杂性使得很难找到对全世界每一个有爱心的人都有效的行动方法,因此人类对他人的关心往往很难产生实际效果。

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.


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.


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.


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.


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?

毫无疑问,哈佛的老师、校友、学生和资助者,已经用他们的能力改善了全世界各地人们的生活。但是,我们还能够再做什么呢?有没有可能,哈佛的人们可以将他们的智慧,用来帮助那些甚至从来没有听到过 “哈佛” 这个名字的人?

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:


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?


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.


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.


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 年后你们还会再回到哈佛,想起你们用自己的天赋和能力所做出的一切。我希望,在那个时候,你们用来评价自己的标准,不仅仅是你们的专业成就,而包括你们为改变这个世界深刻的不平等所做出的努力,以及你们如何善待那些远隔千山万水、与你们毫不涉及的人们,你们与他们唯一的共同点就是同为人类。

Good luck.


比尔盖茨 2007 年哈佛毕业演讲




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