“Ubre Heweath, the Second,” Bill Gates said.
Amy was lost in thought as she was looking out the window of the limousine as it drove back to the ASU research facility.
“What’s that?,” she said, her attention snapped back to the present moment.
“Ubre Heweath, the Second,” Bill Gates repeated, “he’s the man who found Q.”
“Ok,” she said, unsure how to respond to this random factoid.
“You’d be surprised how few people actually approach me. As the world’s wealthiest man, I suspect they think I’m either too busy for them, they aren’t important enough to me, or I’m in such an entirely different echelon than they are that there’d be nothing we could talk about,” he said.
Amy drifted again, in her own thoughts, and responding with a simple “Uh huh”
“It really is quite the contrary. I hate to admit this, but I’m lonely. I take two weeks a year to best sellers just to try to have something I can identify with people on. You know, strike up conversations with normal people on. But the moment they meet me, I often feel like they lose their minds and they can’t even be themselves,” he said.
Amy returned to the moment, “I’m sorry, but why did you bring up Ubre Heweath?”
“Oh. My apologies. But he’s one of the rare individuals who walked up to my office, knocked on the door, and asked if he could discuss an opportunity with me,” he said. “I was delighted. People so often seem to think I hoard my money, when I am longing for new things and practically trying to give away my money. Do you remember the internet meme with me offering $5000 to anyone who responded was real, and I only had a dozen people take me up on my offer for free money. Free money. Unattached. I have billions. And my experiment to give some of it away resulted in a total expenditure of $60 thousand dollars. Can you believe that?”
Amy had never imagined the world’s richest man actually coming across as insecure or whiny.
This was definitely unexpected.
Had it been a different time and place she might have thought it was funny.
“Mr Gates, Do you mind staying on track and explaining Ubre?,” she said matter of factly,
Bill Gates grinned like a school child caught in the cookie jar, “I do that sometimes. Yes. Ubre. An exceedingly eccentric archaeologist, in 1997, he came to me discussing the similarities of fiction and the real world, something I had thought to be obvious, only he had a unique take on the origin of the movies and tv shows we had been raised to believe were fiction saying he suspected many, but not all of the transmissions – that we’d received had a wide variety of origins. “
“So what he wanted money from you for his research?,” Amy said
“No, not at all, that was what was refreshing. He wanted software. Something that would correlate and discover patterns for movies and tv shows and present those patterns, a ‘digital archaeological tool’ which he could then use as a basis for a new classification system.” he said.
“I don’t understand. If he suspected there were patterns, how could you find a software to detect patterns when he himself didn’t have them to begin with,” Amy responded.
“Nuts, right? Tyler wasn’t joking when he said you were quick,” Bill said.
Amy smiled but didn’t respond.
Bill continued “Eventually, I told him the issue involved. Software works with precision. Precise inputs. Precise outputs. But as I said it, I considered one of the few classes I hated at Harvard which was one of the reasons I had dropped out – Statistics and Probability, which got me to thinking as I was politely trying to find a way to say no to him – that while the programming is precise, perhaps I could use probability to do.”
“A weighted algorithm,” Amy said.
“That would be too much like a search engine, no, I was thinking more of a prioritization engine,” he said, “Something that at first requires the researcher’s direct interaction to ‘learn’ what’s important to the researcher, but over time, it tailors and returns result sets for what the researcher feels is important,” Bill said.
Amy wasn’t seeing the difference, and quite frankly wanted the conversation to end, this seemed arduous.
Bill could see he was losing her.
“Ubre thought that some of the television shows and movies were coming from alternate realities and versions of Earth, or from across time itself. So what he wanted was a computer program which could locate suspected past events and correlate them to real world locations in which he, as an archaeologist, could then send a team to excavate to see if he could find evidence of his theories.”
“And Star Trek brought you to Q in the antarctic,” Amy said, with a wry feeling of cynicism washing over her.
“It was amazing. Our very first high confidence correlation,” he said.
“So what does this do for Microsoft?,” she said, referring to the company that had helped make Bill a millionaire.
“It does nothing for Microsoft other than potentially unfolding a future direction for Microsoft which may deviate from binary based computing. We’ll always support our legacy systems, but Ubre’s unorthodox request and presentation turned out to be a research gold mine which typically takes a while to trickle down to the general population,” he said.
“And Ubre? That was 2 years ago, where’s he now?,” she said, halfway interested in the response.
The car drove up to the front of the ASU Research Park in Chandler, Arizona, as the car came to a halt.
“Ubre’s currently in the Himalayan mountains pursuing our second high confidence lead,” Bill responded, “A fictionalized monastery we have a great deal of confidence was real and would be a real treasure for the Chinese to find”
“Not nearly as interesting as Q in the Antarctic,” she said.
“What was expected to be found in the Antarctic versus what was found exceeded everyone’s wildest imagination,” Bill Said.
Amy looked out the window and reached for the door handle.
“Amy, from this point forward, I consider us partners. Equals. You’re good at what you do. And me, as a business man I’m adept at removing roadblocks and paving the roads you’re embarking on,” he said.
She was getting that feeling back again that something just wasn’t sitting right, and couldn’t quite put a finger on what it was.
It really, really bothered her.
“How am I supposed to get home today?,” she said.
“I’ll have a Lexus SUV delivered in the next hour. They’re standardized, wonderful cars, really, and I’ll have the car in your parking spot and the keys delivered separately via a courier. Do you have any color preferences?,” he said.
This was weird.
“Black,” she said.
“Black it is. I’ll be in contact over the next few weeks as you transition out of your internship and to our Tempe facility,” he said.
Amy smiled, nervously, and said “Thank you. Mr Gates, it’s been a real eye opening experience with you today.”
“The please is all mine, “ he responded, enthusiastically, with his trade mark grin “I look forward to changing the world with you.”
She stepped out of the car, and couldn’t help but think… “To what end”
“Oh and Miss Newton. Again, I cannot emphasize this enough, no one is to know about what you saw and what we discussed today,” he said, as he closed the car door behind her and opened up the window.
“No one,” she said, affirming him.
She walked up the walkway to the park, and turned around to see the limousine pulling away as Bill waved from within the car window as it rolled up and they rolled away.
“Black,” she thought, “like I’m feeling. why am I feeling this way?”
She walked in.