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Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 08:37 am PT (11:37 am ET)

Bill Gates discusses Steve Jobs, Apple's iBooks & the future of education

In a new interview, Microsoft founder Bill Gates discusses conversations he would have with the late Steve Jobs, and also shares his thoughts on the future of education in the wake of Apple's iPad textbook announcement.

Gates sat down with Nightline's Bill Weir for an interview in which he talked about his philanthropy. Having given away a significant portion of his wealth, Gates is no longer the world's richest man.

Given his efforts to fight disease and poverty, Gates said the passing of Jobs late last year put some perspective on how fragile life can be. He said it was particularly strange to have someone as "vibrant" as Jobs die so young.

"It makes you feel like, 'Wow, we're getting old,'" Gates said. "Yet you look back and think about the great opportunities we had."

Still in good health, Gates said he hopes to live long enough to see some of his current projects become a reality. He noted that medicines the Gates Foundation have invested in, with grants totaling more than $26 billion since 1994, are 15-plus years out from hitting the market.

In particular, one of the projects he and his wife Melinda have worked hard on is the eradication of malaria. "I need a couple of decades here to fulfill that opportunity," he joked.

Gates also spoke about the one-on-one conversations he would have with Jobs. The former Microsoft chief executive said that while he and Jobs had very different skill sets, Jobs was "every bit as intense" as himself.



"He and I always enjoyed talking," Gates said of Jobs. "He would throw some things out, some stimulating things, we'd talk about the other companies that had come along. We'd talk about our families and how lucky we had been in terms of the women we had married. It was great, great relaxed conversation."

Weir also asked Gates about iBooks 2 for iPad and the digital textbook push Apple announced in a media event last week. While Gates didn't specifically comment on Apple's initiatives, he did say that there is a great deal of opportunity for improving the education system in America through technology, given that it hasn't seen much improvement in the last 30 years.

"The idea of having personalized learning is now enabled by a lot of innovation on the Internet," he said. "Having good classes, having the teacher be able to look at where their students stand — we're going to have technology on our side. It's early days."