tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg February 23, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
sounds like my ride's ready. don't get stuck on hold. reach an expert fast. comcast business. built for business. ♪ studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: bill gates is here, he is microsoft's cochair and cofounder of the bill and melinda gates foundation. he has gathered investors to put billions into clean energy research and development. the group known as the breakthrough -- they include mark zuckerberg, jeff bezos and more. a parallel public effort was also announced. they have initiatives announced
in november at the climate summit in paris where 195 countries reached a landmark agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions. i am pleased to have bill gates back at this table. i read the letter which will be released right after this show. it is interesting to me that with all the concentration on the foundation and all the great things that have taken place in terms of poverty and health, two things have come out of it. one is agriculture and your understanding of how crucial it was in second is energy. so you pose this question. if you could have a superpower, what would it be and you could include anything. you could defy gravity or see through walls, but you said, what? bill gates: i said energy. that getting energy for everyone would transform their life as much as anything that i could think of.
the idea of flipping a light switch and the lights come on or setting the temperature to hot or cold, if you went to somebody in africa who doesn't have energy and said that was possible, it would seem as bizarre as somebody flying or seeing through walls. it really is a type of superpower. americans have the equivalent of 200 humans pushing an axle on their behalf so that their lights light up and their materials get made and their food gets made. modern life is that much about energy intensity. charlie: you show two things, a global map of the world and you show africa at night. parts of africa are almost dark. the extraordinary thing is that 1.3 billion people do not have electricity. bill gates: in africa, unless we
do better than the current expectation, 80% of the people without electricity will be in africa 30 years from now. they have not progressed that much and when you go there at night, melinda and i were in the suburbs driving along, it is eerie he because all of it is people burning things in big oil barrels. think this is like some strange movie, not a normal city. charlie: the goal coming out for you and others is to cut greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050. bill gates: as long as you are emitting greenhouse gases, it stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. not all of it, but most of it. the rest goes back into the soil or the ocean. but that long time in the
atmosphere means that as long as you are increasing co2, as long as the emissions are above zero you have a positive warming trend and that is what creates the strange weather and causes crops not to go as well. particularly in an equatorial region you're getting to heat levels that plants and humans do poorly at. ironically you should go to the northern latitudes. there is a net benefit there but a lot of humanity, particularly the poorest live in an area where the heat will cause a terrible problem. overwhelmingly -- if you us take a forecast that doesn't assume incredible innovation, that will continue. the path that we are on today is we will not be able to make a change away from that will stop
charlie: unless we do what? bill gates: innovation to me is the answer to most problems in cluding energy. so i think of india, because they don't have electricity there collecting firewood destroying their environment, the women are breathing smoke to the children and they get respiratory diseases, it's awful for their health, they do not have lights at night to read, they cannot keep fresh food cold they do not get protein in the diet. there's every reason why india should have electricity. it's great for their people unfortunately their straightforward path to get there is cold. but india is big enough that if they go down that straightforward path we will not meet any of our climate change gaols.
-- goals. and today we have no alternative that is even close to as cheap, including reliability which is a fundamental characteristic of energy systems. you cannot power india as cheaply with other things as you can with coal. only with innovation can you square the circle and say should india electrify as fast as it can? or should they avoid greenhouse gas emission. they will admit as much co2 per person as we have. as much co2t per person as us for 100 years. charlie: bill gates: charlie: is this your biggest passion? bill gates: is the long lead time thing that requires so much coordination science and politics come together. and very fascinated by it. i still have polio eradication and our health stocks as the things were i feel like we're on track and know what to do. this one's in the category of
great importance and if you wait 20 years to get started, then the time that it takes to invest and change the system, you are really going to miss the window. it has a funny urgency even though the damage is not that dramatic. charlie: you have to get it started. you believe that you can get to zero by the beginning of the next century? bill gates: i believe innovation -- there are so many paths, over a dozen different paths and we only need one to work to give us this cheap and reliable energy that yes, then you have to deploy that and get to these wildly ambitious goals. charlie: you talk about a energy miracle, what would that be? bill gates: anything that is half the price of today's energy, cheaper than coal and totally reliable does not depend on the wind blowing or the sun shining.
that is an energy miracle. so if you could take sunlight and directly make gasoline from sunlight, that's called solar fuels. there are scientists who can do that. they're about hundred times less efficient than it needs to be to make any sense. that one isn't even ready for a startup company the story to be in the government lab getting research funding. then with luck it would get to the point where companies will get started in high risk return investors will come along. >> you looking for a miracle. >> what you want to do is enlist both private funding which you started and at the same time you want to make sure the government has a role? bill gates: that's right.
basic research, their unique role is basic research. the universities and national labs, if i can get right investors to fund the level of research because that's just the very beginning, material science -- stronger magnets, pencil -- in the medical sector there is a great pharmaceutical industry, but the u.s. government spends $30 billion per year on basic health research. it has been fantastic for the country and the world. in energy, we are down at less than $6 billion, and that is the number that i am hoping -- the commitment was made in paris by 20 governments including the u.s. to double their energy over a five-year period.
that will raise the supply of innovations and make it right for these amazing groups of investors. charlie: this foundation letter, who is it addressed to, i had the impression you were addressing it to high school students? bill gates: that is a new thing for us. the two things i elaborate on, melinda talks about time and how women have to spend a lot of extra time, more than men in the household. a kid in a high school newspaper in kentucky in appalachia asked us about superpowers and she said time, i said energy. as we talked about it, it was pointed out to us that those are such basic things about the
experience of poor people. even in the u.s. people understand how important energy is and there is still a time and balance. those became the theme. these are not problems that there is a 10-year solution to. the younger generation voiced their willingness to look at things in new ways. today's teenagers will be in their 20's and a lot of the thinking that drives innovation comes from that group. charlie: which of the three has potential? bill gates: i mentioned this idea of the sun being used generate fuels. that is unique because unlike generating electricity where batteries that store electricity are expensive and do not last long, storing gasoline in a gasoline tank, you make it bigger and a consider for as -- and it can sit there for as
long as you want and when you want the energy just learned. it is 10 times more dense and energy content than the best batteries that we have today. that would really be special. taking nuclear energy and overcoming a number of problems, the cost of the plans, the safety of the plans were people worry if you have another fukushima or chernobyl accident. that is another path that we could go down. we could take the wind way up in the jet stream and capture that. that requires materials that are ultra strong which would be valuable for many things. you could build bridges that would last forever and we are really on the verge of that type of understanding. there are two approaches that people think about. one is that you could just take solar and wind and make them cheap and that is not too hard but then you could have a battery that is 10 to 20 times
better than any battery we have today. charlie: what is so difficult about that? bill gates: the problem is chemistry. the number of charges you can put into an area -- there is not a semiconductor thing that lets us jam those things in. what happens is your going between a liquid phase and a solid phase and as you do that, the solid tends to degrade. if batteries could last instead of 400 cycles if they could last for a thousand that really changed the economics. there are ideas along those lines, i have money and many battery companies and there are a bunch that i do not that i would say that all of them are having a tough time because proving that something does not degrade in some physical way over 4000 cycles is not something you can test
overnight, it's very right manic stuff soragmatic batteries in the last 100 years have not improved as much as we would need them to to make this the path that we go down. that is a very possible path, we should invest in the research and companies along that path but that is the one that most people think will come and it is not as easy as they think. charlie: 50 years? bill gates: you cannot put a time on it. if you think take 12 paths there is a total of about 12, including taking and burning hydrocarbons and capturing the carbon from the flu or the chimney stack. if you have five companies on each of these and they get the basic research backing them up
and the risk capital, even if individually they are only 20% likely, if you pursue those 60 different things, and the chance of a success is very high and that is what i think we should do. charlie: quick questions before we turn to health, number one, have climate deniers gained strength or -- where would you put that component of our population? bill gates: the problem with climate denial is not a huge problem outside the united states. charlie: why is that? bill gates: that's a good question. policymakers on many issues like
agricultural crops call gmos -- europe is more skeptical of the science on that in the u.s. is on climate change we are uniquely skeptical particularly in terms of telling policy makers. there is another group which is a little bit of a problem which is that people believe the climate is a problem but think it's easy to solve and think ok, as soon as that utility guys don't stand in the way of rooftop solar, this thing is solved, not just for the power sector but for the transporting industry, everything that we need. that notion that there are simple solutions -- charlie: do you see that inhibiting forward progress? until that 2015 november talks, the idea of improving the amount of innovation, increasing r&d was not discussed and i'm still amazed at that.
20 countries did commit there, including china and all the big ones that you would want, even india made the doubling commitment. we've always put a lot of money into the demand side for clean energy. we have tax credits and renewable portfolio standards where utilities required to buy a certain percentage of their energy from these renewable sources so if you take the effective payments, the increased price of electricity and tax forgiveness, we've put a lot into that demand side and so has germany, japan and others. we need to have a balance where we are also driving the supply of innovation as well. ♪
♪ charlie: everybody is talking about the zika virus. you looked hard at ebola, tell me where you see this and what is necessary and what did we learn? bill gates: in the case of ebola, the orchestration of resources, the private sector's ability to make diagnostics, antibodies and vaccines was pulled together very slowly. there was no roadmap where, what is our liability? what is the regulatory path? if there are three to four
companies, which ones go twice as fast and which dropout? that was chaotic. only now do we have these good ebola tools. if that had spread faster, we would have felt terrible about that. zika is different. it is spread by mosquitoes and not human contact. there is still a lot of measurement is are some narrow part of your pregnancy we can be affected, is it require that you had to have dengue at some point, but it was a bad situation and it's great that the emergency was declared. this time, we can all figure out the private sector innovations that could come in, including in this case killing mosquitoes because this particular mosquito
lives in urban areas, mostly around the equator. and one of the great heroes said we should wipe out this particular mosquito and he came very close to it. now you wish, maybe that would've been a good thing. this one carries dengue, zika, chickenguya and yellow fever. charlie: you have said that mosquitoes are the most dangerous animal on earth. bill gates: that's right. in terms of what kills the most humans? do human kill the most humans, do lions and sharks? the humans killing humans is a strong number, too, that unless
war gets extreme the 600,000 plus kids who die of malaria -- mosquito caused death, that is the animal that generates the most mortality. charlie: and malaria? bill gates: it is all malaria am a there are a few others but it is 95%. charlie: what should we do about the mosquito? bill gates: there are a couple of ideas for changing the mosquito that we have been funding in order to work on dengue and malaria. one idea is that you put a bacteria into the mosquito and then it does not carry the parasite at all. we have done field trials on that and it appears it works for dengue and zika.
that may get rolled out more quickly. an even more powerful tool that spreads faster is to take our new gene technology that people call crisper and have male and female mosquitoes pass along either something that prevents them from carrying the virus or some thing that kills the progeny. use gene editing and create a thing called jean drive which means that all of your children male and female inherit something even if only one of your parents have it that is dominant into that generation to not survive or not carry the bad virus. charlie: you have been asked this question before, coming out of high school today, knowing what you know about genomics and gene editing and at the same time technology, which field would you enter? bill gates: it is a hard choice
now. the digital stuff, in terms of vision and robotics continues to be very exciting. not without challenges but mostly positive enablement, that is a wonderful field and will generate tons of jobs that people should want. biology and medical work is also an incredible thing. understanding how these work and in some cases you have to use the digital tools to track the genes and understand them. there are companies working on robotic assisted surgery that could raise the quality and lower the cost. charlie: coming together with genomic technology. bill gates: exactly. stem cells and genetics -- the field of biology is so amazing
and if a kid has interest, the chance they could lead huge breakthroughs are gigantic. but i also want to say energy because we need bright minds to drive it there as well. charlie: because in not having energy they will not have a full development? bill gates: yes. as we uplift more countries, they will contribute. countries like china will also contribute. charlie: the idea is clean energy, not just energy but clean energy? bill gates: that's right. greenhouse gases constrained, it would be nice if it was a 20% reduction but it is eliminating from country energy systems, that is daunting but it's necessary and that is why all of this parallel work is needed.
charlie: on the digital side you mentioned artificial intelligence. part of that is finding out what does that mean in terms of jobs and population. all of those questions about how we spend leisure time and the rest of it. there are also things that concern you and other people. just you, what is your concern about artificial intelligence? bill gates: in the long run, the scale of the intelligence is unbounded. it will get a lot smarter than us. [laughter] bill gates: so smart that we will have to ask it, how smart are you? the near-term problem that is predictably in the 20 year timeframe is labor substitution, not super intelligence. where that is kind of an
embarrassment of riches problem . where you should free up people to help every kid in school, every handicapped kid him every elderly person, you should be able to reallocate that if you are not needed to work in that warehouse, get out there and do other things. charlie: this dovetails into what melinda said about time. bill gates: it will free up time, doing the drudgery. all of that about spending time with kids and being more connected socially we should be able to do more about. charlie: she tells a wonderful story in her part of the letter where a family in africa -- the wife spent all of her time going to get water and bringing it back and finally she is about ready to leave the marriage. he comes home in the bags are packed and he says what can i do? and she says i am doing everything. all of the stuff at home and you need to help and he agrees.
he starts taking the water himself and the split that. all of a sudden he gets involved in that and they determined there are smarter ways to do that. the point is, freeing up people to have time to participate in all of the issues, jointly. bill gates: that was interesting because when he first helped out he was ridiculed by the other men and he said -- i will keep doing this. and what they told belinda was that set an example for that village. we drive our children to school quite a bit and otherwise, i don't know for sure, use that to encourage their husbands to say they could not say they were too much more busy than i was at that particular time.
charlie: what is the timeframe on artificial intelligence? bill gates: for labor substitution, it will be substantial in the five to 20 year period. security and computers used to not be able to see, and we are really good at physical manipulation. making a bed and clearing up a room. carrying a patient upstairs. the amount of adjustment and ability is quite incredible, but once software achieves those things it is unbounded. sorting parts and a warehouse or picking things out of a bin, computers are just now getting to human level. the problem is 10 years from now they will be at three or four times the human level and humans are not on that same type of improvement curve.
it's like farming. saying tractors will destroy the world. because that took generations, people did adjust. here, the speed will come a little faster and some people do not think it will happen because we have been saying that this would happen before it did and it's like, they have been saying that. and it is true. we cried wolf and then there is a wolf. charlie: on the more concerning side in terms of intelligence, is there a breakthrough necessary or is it so underway that it is just time and accumulation of technological advantages? bill gates: on the labor peace hardly any of the experts in the field would disagree that that is coming.
on this piece about intelligence you could get the very best people in the field and half would say -- that will never happen or it will take forever. i am amazed that it is not a subject of which there is consensus. charlie: are you as worried as elon musk? bill gates: yes. charlie: who says it is more dangerous than nuclear catastrophe? bill gates: if this happens it changes life as we know it so life is changed for the entire population. charlie: what is the worst scenario? that the machine is more intelligent -- charlie: and so they control us? bill gates: so our sense of purpose in which humans are in control or are they in control will have profound consequences.
charlie: how long before that happens? when peoplethat, answer that question they are a little bit guessing. i don't think it will happen in less than 40 years i cannot say for sure it will happen in less than 100. this is the lifetime of your children? bill gates: even if it's 100 years, the thing about this one is not to panic -- charlie: in 50 years machines are smarter than humans? bill gates: because humans created them. charlie: but they will determine the future of the world. humans can decide what goes in or comes out? bill gates: certainly the likely place to start out is some
subset of humans who control those machines. charlie: who are they? bill gates: the private sector is doing more state of the art intelligence work than the public sector. charlie: the great advances in the internet came from the defense department. bill gates: in the early stage yes but then they had contractors like bbm and eventually the infrastructure got on the private side. the i.t. revolution has largely moved to be private sector funded. charlie: but you are saying it's the longer happening there. it's all in the private sector. bill gates: the best stuff is in the private sector. i'm finding out people
in venture capital are touring money into it because they believe it will unlock some kind of future. bill gates: even if you focus on it as a narrow thing you may be creating a general capacity for intelligence. charlie: there is a lot of that now as you would know. bill gates: so it's a thing with a discussion and the debate ought to begin. it's not like banning that research would be a good move . that just pushes it to less visible locations. charlie: let's talk security versus privacy, encryption, apple, the fbi and the federal government. where do you stand? bill gates: it would be valuable if the safeguards the government had, when it would go for that information and how it would deal with it that people felt
comfortable with that because if the government is blind, then things like tax evasion, child pornography and most importantly terrorism enabled by nuclear and biological weapons -- our government is not able to fulfill some role of stopping those things. so, it's great that people are talking more, post snowden and everyone about how do you feel about those safeguards. if we cannot as a society discuss those safeguards in a way we feel good about, then the government will not be able to fulfill its function. charlie: so if you are responsible for the decision as to whether apple should allow the government one-time only to come in and provide in their labs software so the government can try to have access, are you
in favor of that, in favor of a private company in this circumstance in the secret of their own lab and they are able to destroy whatever they create after they do this for the government one time only, should they do that? bill gates: in every case up until now when the government has come in and said what's the banking information, banks like to keep their customer information private. no bank is ever defied the government and apple at the end are just forcing a complete judicial process. i do think apple is saying that when it goes to the supreme court they are saying they will defy the government. charlie: they are saying right now they will not do it so it will be appealed to the district court and appeals court. i'm just asking, what would you do if you were the executive? would you do the same thing as tim cook?
bill gates: i think they are saying that as a society, we think this discussion of safeguards is important. i don't disagree with that. charlie: nobody disagrees with that. bill gates: at the end of the day we want a government that has this ability and we trust it to use that on our behalf. that is where, in order to stop innovation in biological weaponry from being turned against humanity, you really need government to have a role of trust. historically, the fbi in some cases, they have not always earned that trust. but i claim its important for the public that we figure out what structure that would put us back into a situation where the
u.s. government has the safeguards and we do trust it so that if the courts rule against apple we are not saying that is a terrible thing. charlie: you are as first in all of this as anyone i know. bill gates: the only choice that apple has is to decide whether to comply with the lower court or wait for the higher court ruling. they have chosen to wait. which over time i expect the government will decide not to be blind and it will exercise its sovereign power not to be blind. there will have been a debate about what visibility they have. charlie: are you ok with tim cook waiting until it walks through the judicial process? is it possible to do a one-time only in this one computer and one iphone? bill gates: apple agrees that it is possible. but they say by doing it it proves they can do so.
but they have already admitted they can do so. your bank can take your banking information and give it to the u.s. government. they have that ability. your phone company can take your phone calls and give it to the u.s. government. charlie: but they have an encrypted iphone that does not allow them to do that. bill gates: that is false. the information that the government is seeking is not in the security processor. the logic about challenging the security processor with the pin is not in the security processor. there is not a technological question here. charlie: what is the question? bill gates: the question is, what will the final court rule on this issue. that is the only question. charlie: why is it so hard to get you to say yay or nay?
most of silicon valley is supporting it. they say we do not think the government should be able to access an encrypted phone. apple says we don't how to do it, but we know that they do. bill gates: right. endorsing the idea of all of the government's behavior with accessing information in the past, nobody would want to do that. there are cases -- more j edgar hoover, it's more clear. so the idea that you are forcing the discussion about about what would it mean if you cannot trust the government ever to get banking information or call information or iphone information -- it would be great if we could agree on what safeguards would get us back to
saying that at least this government is working on our behalf when it is trying to track down terrorists. charlie: apple must have known this was coming because between ios 7 and ios 8 you have a very different situation. bill gates: the information on that phone is accessible to apple. if anybody was confused about that now they are not. that information is accessible to apple. but it doesn't really matter. it's like your bank saying we cannot possibly access your account information. they can and they can resist court orders if they choose to as well. charlie: this is a hard case because of terrorism because there is no violation -- the person who had the phones, two people are dead.
>> the issue is the presidential fact, is this a government who safeguards information? will they use this revealed capability in an appropriate way ? charlie: that is why you have judicial standards? bill gates: and why we have a democracy that sits and debates about what should the patriot act version one through four look like, and congress could decide that the government never gets to see bank accounts or travel records. it's all political. the statutes in question here were enacted by the united states congress and it turns out they are using one from a long time ago, but eventually as it has been with the patriot act this will all be subject to democratic discussions. it won't be corporations in the end although they can talk to
congressman just like anyone else. charlie: i don't understand this. obviously apple knows they can do it if they are directed to do it, supreme court says the law of the land is that you have to do it they will do it but they said are fighting it because there is no such time -- no such thing as a one-time only fix. if they do this for the government that all the people who have bought iphones under the assumption that they were protected will come after them. the district attorney here in new york said i have 120 cases in which it is about encrypted data in an iphone and every one of them i would like to see opened up because it will be evidentiary and important to me. apple says in china people bought those phones because they thought they would be safe from challenge. now they believe that you cannot have a one-time only solution
here. that if apple does this, what their business model was about, what their marketing was about, what their relationship with their customer was about will be voided. bill gates: they can access this information. charlie: you have said that three times, i know that. but they say if they access it for this case than everything we have built -- bill gates: just like your bank or phone company, that's right. anyone who says they can overwrite a sovereign may in the end not be able to do that. charlie: how is microsoft different? bill gates: all of the tech companies are insisting that the government have really formal orders for anything that they do. no tech company is ever going to volunteer information.
there is still some discretion about do you force us to go to the whole process but the basic view is that this is a political decision about when governments can access information and what those safeguards look like and i would say that tech companies are for good reasons saying let's really have this debate about safeguards because -- in the digital world, and the amount of information about your behavior is larger. in some cases like london where the have cameras, they have dropped crime rates and various things and is that ok? in the u.k. they have decided that the net benefit of that is that countries will have different rules about these things. ♪
did a custom spoof version of "the economist" where all of my friends wrote articles -- that was her equivalent gift to me. charlie: you also talk about richard feynman as being the teacher you may have want to have. we all know him from the spaceship disaster and he figured it out. what was so great about him? bill gates: he was so tough on himself in terms of whether he understood things, he understood physics in a deep way so his lectures explaining physics that he gave in the 1960's i still consider the best way for somebody to learn why physics is interesting and why it was
confusing and how they straightened themselves out. this lecture series was at columbia and then he goes to if you want to test your physics knowledge or refresh it, there is nothing better. charlie: did you read them? >> yes, but slowly. it's the slowest thing i have ever read. charlie: do you deeply regret not learning a foreign language? >> i feel like some isolationist, lazy person. charlie: why didn't you? lazy you are not. bill gates: i got fanatic about software and kept putting it off and still to this day i'm hoping to get around to it. french is easy enough that i should do that.
mark zuckerberg learned chinese and give a lecture. my chinese speaking friends say it was impressive. so, hey. charlie: there is still time. you are 50 something and he is thirtysomething. bill gates: not chinese, i am too much of a wimp. charlie: i saw something about how you had hacked into computers. bill gates: yes, that was between ages 14 to 16, we had limited access to computer time. there were timesharing systems -- computers were expensive so people used phone lines to dial into a big expensive computer and you would have 50 people all dialed in the same time. computer time was rare and scarce.
i knew where there were a few computers and i would get up at 5:00 in the morning. in a few cases we figured out we figured out how to get on computers we would not have been given access to. charlie: software is the second love of your life? bill gates: i was obsessed with software from a young age. my 10,000 hours so i learned how to write software. charlie: is that your core competence? math got me involved in software and i got so deep that it later helped me with math but the thing that you do excessively between 13 and 18 is thing you have the most chance of being world-class at and i only have one thing that i didn't obsessively from 13 to 18 which is try to write good software. charlie: did you? bill gates: i thought i was
really good and then when i was 15 i got to work on this project and i realized this guy is better than me and he critiqued me and then a year and a half later i got critiqued again and i said, this is better so that was super helpful to have my comeuppance about how did my code compare to other people's code. eventually i was a bit on my own , but yeah, i had to be pretty tough about how good you can get. charlie: my impression of you is that you did what you wanted to as a teenager? bill gates: after age 13 my parents were reasonable and fairly busy.
i had a very good deal as a teenager. they sent it to a private school that was my real transition where i was thinking that fighting with them was something i could really prove something and they were smart enough to send me to somebody who said that was kind of a war that i had every advantage in. so it was a waste of my energy and i was not going to prove anything because it was almost unfair. he got me to set my sights on -- ok, what am i going to do after high school? my parents were really more allies than barriers in terms of thinking of that framework. so he encouraged reading in areas i had not done. charlie: what are you reading now? so you write these book reports -- it is said that you read two to three books per week? bill gates: i try. i end up on average reading one per week.
i just finished "sapians," which is quite good. decline from age 60 to 85 with any luck will be very mild because you are telling your body to maintain bone strength and muscle strength, so i found it helpful. charlie: you are listening to that? bill gates: i have never done strength training it says you need do that twice a week so i've taken a vow to do it. ask the next time i'm here
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