Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who recently became the world's richest man once again, has the same reservations about government as many of his fellow tech moguls. "You have to have a certain realism that government is a pretty­ blunt instrument," he tells Rolling Stone in a long, wide-ranging interview. "Without the constant attention of highly qualified people with the right metrics, it will fall into not doing things very well." If there's a thread in the interview, it's the threat of gridlock and the balance between technological capability, political feasibility, and ethical desirability.

Gates relates this to long-term causes like agricultural development and climate change, which he's hoping to address with nuclear power — when it comes to solving climate change, he says, systems like wind and solar are "not interesting." But he also sounds off on surveillance, Edward Snowden, Healthcare.gov, and other topical issues. "I do worry about things like the war in Syria and what that means," he says in response to a question about his greatest fears. "You wouldn't have predicted that that country in particular would fall into horrific civil war where the suffering is just unbelievable, and it is not obvious to anybody what can be done to stop it."