The billionaire, who dropped out of university to develop the Windows software which revolutionised the IT world, said that intelligence is not as “single dimensional” as he once believed.
The world’s richest man made his comments in an “ask me anything” session with Reddit.
“I would explain that smartness is not as single dimensional and not quite as important as I thought it was back then,” he said in reply to a question about advice to his nineteen-year-old self.
“I would say you might explore the developing world before you get into your forties.
“I wasn’t very good socially back then but I am not sure there is advice that would fix that – maybe I had to be awkward and just grow up.”
The young Mr Gates was an academic high flyer at his private school in Seattle, scoring a near-perfect 1590 (out of a possible 1600) in his SATs and winning a place at Harvard University.
He enrolled to study law at the Ivy League college, although like many young people, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in life and spent most of his time at university on computers beofre dropping out in 1975.
Asked what his measure of success is, Mr Gates – who is worth more than £60 billion - referred to another wealthy businessman.
“Warren Buffet has always said the measure is whether people close to you are happy or love you. It’s also nice to feel like you made a difference – inventing something or raising kids or helping people in need.”
Asked what he considers to be his greatest achievement, he cited Windows – but hopes his humanitarian work through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will eventually become as important as his software.
“Although the foundation work is super promising and will be the biggest thing over the decades ahead, I still think the chance to be part of the software revolution empowering people was the biggest thing I have gotten to do.
“Right now I am very focused on making sure we successfully eradicate polio – that will be amazing if we do it – as good as shipping even the best software product.”
Discussing the role IT plays in society, the entrepreneur anticipated the day when computers can “read and understand information like humans do.”
“There is a lot of work going on in this field – Google, Microsoft, Facebook, academia …Right now computers don’t know how to represent knowledge so they can’t read a text book or pass a test.”
Asked where he sees himself in fifteen years, the 61-year-old father of three said he hopes to be a grandfather – but did not answer questions on whether he would ever consider running for US President.