Bill Gates has officially ceded his claim to moral leadership. Time to find new leaders.
After his shameful meeting with Donald Trump, Bill Gates has officially ceded his claim to moral leadership. Time to find new leaders. JSTONE / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

I have never been more convinced in my life that Bill Gates may not be human, but instead may be a Westworld sex robot programmed by the Russians.

Case in point: Today Bill Gates met with Donald Trump, further legitimizing an upcoming presidency defined by constant lies, a hacked election, and a swell of vehement misogyny and white nationalism.

Earlier in the day, Bill Gates described another talk he had with Trump. Here's how he used this opportunity to say something about the president-elect, according to an interview Gates did on CNBC's Squawk Box:

I had an opportunity to talk to him about innovation. A lot of his message is, has been about things, how he sees things as not as good as he would like, but in the same way that John F. Kennedy talked about the space mission and got the country behind that, I think that whether it's education or stopping epidemics, other health breakthroughs, finishing polio, and in this energy space there can be a very upbeat message that his administration is going to organize things, get rid of regulatory barriers, and have American leadership through innovation be one of the things he gets behind. And of course my whole career has been along those lines, and he was very interested in listening to that, and I'm sure there will be further conversation.

There are a few conclusions we can draw from this conversation between the richest man in the world and the soon-to-be leader of the free world.

The first is that Bill Gates should never be trusted with any kind of public good. Instead of publicly condemning Trump's statements on climate change—which Trump has called a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese—it appears that Gates is looking for the bright side of a Trump presidency; the bright side being that his administration is "going to organize things, get rid of regulatory barriers, and have American leadership through innovation be one of the things he gets behind."

But the word "innovation" here is meaningless. What Bill Gates is peddling is the same old social safety net-slashing, failed trickle-down economic policies touted by the Reagan administration. He's saying that the answer to some of the greatest social and environmental issues of our time will be solved by the kind of capitalism that makes government regulation the enemy. He is saying that the answer to enormous global problems enabled by deregulation will be solved by deregulation, too.

Bill Gates thinks that he can help solve climate change by a $1 billion energy research and development fund. On CNBC, Gates insisted that "the breakthrough energy venture is going to go full speed ahead no matter what's going on with climate policy."

He could not be more wrong. Climate change demands an urgent and comprehensive response from every sector, public and private. And no matter what good comes out of Gates's energy fund, prioritizing the free hand of the market while defanging government regulators in charge of protecting the public interest will always create externalized costs that are borne by the most vulnerable among us. Gates does not appear to understand this inherent conflict of interest. But perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.

"When I call these top leaders — of course, it has to be off the record — I get a running dialogue in dulcet tones about needing to cooperate and needing to engage and needing to be seen as willing to work together," technology journalist Kara Swisher wrote about a tech summit hosted by Trump last week. "But to my ear, it’s a symphony of compromise, where only now and then a sour note sounds from someone who breaks from the platitudes they are spewing."

Kara Swisher wrote that these tech leaders should be ashamed of themselves, that there are some key issues that are "just not negotiable."

She's right, of course. But like many other aspects of Trump's presidency, the behavior of tech executives when confronted with Donald Trump has exposed a preexisting condition that has long resisted diagnosis: that, despite all tech leaders' hot air about saving the world, they have never been on the side of the public good.

German industrialists found themselves in a similarly uncomfortable position in January of 1932. Many industrialists saw the Nazi party "as a socialist and anti-capitalist party." Nevertheless, they deluded themselves into complacency when Hitler met with them, "invoked general national feelings, largely refrained from anti-Semitic attacks, and stressed his anti-Marxism."

Apparently the fact that much of Silicon Valley's workforce relies on immigrants that Donald Trump has repeatedly demonized throughout his campaign does not bother Bill Gates enough to take issue with the president-elect. With his cringe-worthy approach to Donald Trump on full display, Bill Gates has officially ceded his claim as a moral leader.

It's time to find new people to trust with the public good. That search begins with the people who face the most risk under a Trump presidency.