Melinda Gates and David Letterman talk tech, philanthropy, music and more on Netflix show


Melinda Gates shares the stage with David Letterman on an episode of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman” on Netflix. (Netflix screen grab)

Melinda Gates shared stories of her family life, philanthropic pursuits and her unending push to get more girls and women the standing they deserve in tech as she starred as a guest on the latest season of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman” on Netflix.

RELATED: Melinda Gates talks to GeekWire about the tech industry, equality and three women who changed her life

The second season of the hour-long, single-guest talk show — which saw the longtime late-show host’s return to television — also features rapper Kanye West, talk host Ellen DeGeneres, actress Tiffany Haddish and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.

Gates’ appearance was timed, as many have been over the past several months, to promote her first book, “The Moment of Lift,” and she and Letterman discussed various topics raised in the book.

Letterman peppered the interview with his trademark wit and sarcasm, and Gates rolled with the host in fine fashion. At one point he tried to ask her how computers actually work, saying that his brother in law, a genius, explained to him that it’s “really simple” and it’s binary and “all ones and twos.”

“It’s zeroes and ones! Sorry! Just gotta say it,” Gates said in correcting the host, drawing a round of applause from the audience. She went on to explain that the zeroes and ones are bits of information that can be thought of as packets of information, spread between registers on a silicon board.

Gates discussed how, after getting her MBA at Duke University, she was being offered a job at IBM, but the hiring manager, a woman, encouraged to take another offer, at Microsoft. The woman told Gates that as a woman with a tech degree her opportunity for advancement would be much faster at the small startup.

Letterman asked if society has reached a level in which women are now empowered to pursue tech careers, and as he spoke Gates just shook her head side to side.

“No,” she answered.

Melinda Gates and David Letterman inside a self-driving car simulator during an episode of Letterman’s Netflix show. (Netflix screen grab)

The show is spliced with footage from a visit to New York City, where Gates and Letterman met an intern at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan. The young woman showed work she was doing around autonomous vehicles and Gates and Letterman took a ride in a lab simulator.

“It’s got that autonomous car smell,” Letterman, a car nut, said as he got in. “This is cool. I already love it,” he added as the simulated ride began. The two shared banter and made fun of graphics that appeared as they “drove” through empty San Francisco streets.

Bill Gates also makes an appearance in the episode as Letterman visits the other half of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at his offices in Kirkland, Wash., east of Seattle.

Bill Gates tries a peanut butter and Worcestershire sauce sandwich made by David Letterman. (Netflix screen grab)

“Did that Microsoft thing ever take off?” Letterman asked the software giant’s co-founder. “It finally did. It took a little while,” Gates replied, before they showed a classic clip of Gates on “The Late Show” in 1995, talking about what the internet is.

Gates and Letterman proceeded to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches together and Letterman ran a list of potential tech advances past him, including “lunar power,” “television that watches you,” and … “an internet app that will screw up elections.”

“Yeah, there are people working on that,” Gates quipped after the last suggestion.

Melinda Gates and Letterman continued to discuss everything from vaccinations to contraception in the developing world to her and Bill’s relationship with Warren Buffett. Check out a couple clips below, where she talks about measles and why she vaccinated her children, and how she got Bill to do some pre-school drop-offs:

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