Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Gates Issues Call For "Creative Capitalism"

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the evidently-foss-is-a-little-too-creative dept.

Editorial 464

theodp writes "Bill Gates makes his case for Creative Capitalism in TIME, citing projects like a Text-Free UI for illiterate computing, the use of Multimouse technology to allow fifty kids to share one computer display, cell phone billing by the second, and Bono's RED campaign as examples of the type of corporate creativity that can make the world a better place for the billion or so people scraping by on less than a dollar a day. Michael Kinsley, a former Microsoft employee whose wife still advises the Gates Foundation, says it's hard to object to Gates' goals, but notes that creative capitalism does have its share of skeptics, and points out that there was not a whole lot of energy devoted to lifting up the world's poor during Bill's three decades at Microsoft."

cancel ×

464 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Text-free UI? (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455779)

There's prior art on that. It was invented in ancient Egypt.

Let's face it, text was invented for a purpose. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but they may not be exactly *the* thousand words you need to convey your information.

Re:Text-free UI? (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455899)

Let's face it, text was invented for a purpose. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but they may not be exactly *the* thousand words you need to convey your information.

When you can't even count on the user/operator to have an 8th grade education, a dozen pictures is worth far more than 12,000 words.

WTF is this "education" worship going on? (5, Interesting)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455987)

I've had to correct memos written by people with "degrees", not just that mythical 8th grade education. Know what? I've met 8th graders from that evil third world where they supposedly can't get by on a dollar a day. Strangely, they also can write coherent sentences... they even know the difference between "they're" and "their". Something most college grads seem to not know. Too bad you can't fire people (lovely government interventions) for having been too stupid to get value for their money when they shopped for "education".

Re:WTF is this "education" worship going on? (2, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456409)

they even know the difference between "they're" and "their". Something most college grads seem to not know. Too bad you can't fire people (lovely government interventions) for having been too stupid to get value for their money when they shopped for "education".

The problems you're talking about are a result of NOT shopping for education in the first place. Proper spelling and grammar should be learned before the 8th grade - and most children up to that point attend public schools. You just made a pretty strong argument for bringing in the voucher system.

Re:WTF is this "education" worship going on? (2, Interesting)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456443)

when i was in university, our 1st year English course dedicated 2 weeks to the 3 there's.

on the other hand, my middle school ESL students know the difference between 'they're', 'their', and 'there'.

i spent 2 weeks in university on this stuff, while 14 year old Korean kids who can't speak English know their theirs.

Re:WTF is this "education" worship going on? (1)

avilliers (1158273) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456489)

Too bad you can't fire people (lovely government interventions) for having been too stupid to get value for their money when they shopped for "education".

Sure you can. I'm not sure what government intervention you think prevents this.

The only thing that would prevent you is HR (or other internal) policies, or having signed a contract. Either one is voluntary.

Re:Text-free UI? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456139)

Unfortunately, affirmative action mandates mean unqualified people will be hired to meet quotas. Because somehow it's racist to hire people based on skills and experience, but not racist to hire people based on what race they are.

Re:Text-free UI? (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456511)

When you can't even count on the user/operator to have an 8th grade education, a dozen pictures is worth far more than 12,000 words.

Only if the pictures lead to more pictures. Which is kind of pointless if you are trying to write a letter.

Re:Text-free UI? (5, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455907)

640 words should be enough for anyone.

Re:Text-free UI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456333)

Yeah Ebonics has fewer than 640 words.
  It works great for keeping its native tongue speakers unemployed .

Re:Text-free UI? (1)

lysse (516445) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456499)

320 pictures, surely...?

Re:Text-free UI? (4, Interesting)

Esteanil (710082) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455915)

Yeah, so let's get access to some of that text.

Project: Open Source System for automatic user-initiated translation of blogs/articles/etc. Add a "Read this in:" which is autotranslated to location (GeoIP, etc) and a "Translate this". Basic idea being ad-sharing as payment for translating blogs. Open Source project, because I mainly just want to see more content out there, and translated content is great. Wiki-based.

From the user's point of view: You enter a page, and see it in English. You're quite good at English in addition to Chinese, so you write a quick translation.

Speaking of ancient Egypt (5, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456087)

Speaking of ancient Egypt and writing, it's kinda funny... they actually invented a phonetic writing (hieratic) _before_ hieroglyphics, but preferred hieroglyphics anyway.

It's kinda funny how many things about Egypt are contrary to what we take for granted, and what stuff like Civilizations teach us. We tend to think that inventing an alphabet was oh-so-vital and a major improvement over hieroglyphics, but Egypt invented them the other way around. And for a long time it was, along with Mesopotamia (where cuneiform was also hieroglyphic), at the forefront of science and technology.

(Another anomaly about them was that they knew about coins all right, but preferred barter anyway. They first minted coins to pay some Greek mercenaries, and then continued to do so for external trade with the Greeks and Phoenicians. But internally they used barter until the Romans conquered them and forced them to. They were an economic powerhouse anyway.)

So, well, maybe there is something to the idea that a picture is worth more. The Egyptians sure thought so :P

Re:Speaking of ancient Egypt (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456559)

Speaking of ancient Egypt and writing, it's kinda funny... they actually invented a phonetic writing (hieratic) _before_ hieroglyphics

Cite?

As far as I know, they developed pretty much simultaneously, and were used at the same time, but for different purposes. Hieroglyphics were used to decorate pyramids and temples, while Hieratic was used for receipts, notes, messages, etc. Moreover, Hieratic was not a real alphabet either, it made use of logographic characters.

We tend to think that inventing an alphabet was oh-so-vital and a major improvement over hieroglyphics, but Egypt invented them the other way around. And for a long time it was, along with Mesopotamia (where cuneiform was also hieroglyphic), at the forefront of science and technology.

Yes, well, most "technical documents" from the time were written in Hieratic, so that tends to suggest that a simple alphabet is at least an aid in clear and professional communication, if not necessarily a requirement for it.

Another anomaly about them was that they knew about coins all right, but preferred barter anyway. They first minted coins to pay some Greek mercenaries, and then continued to do so for external trade with the Greeks and Phoenicians. But internally they used barter until the Romans conquered them and forced them to. They were an economic powerhouse anyway.

Imagine that! A stubborn people, ruled in tyranny by an emperor who is also a religious figure, continue to do things the old fashioned way instead of changing with the times. You NEVER see that happen! :)

I think it's rather akin to North Korea continuing to pretend that Communism is a viable option ...

Re:Text-free UI? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456151)

Gotta agree with this one. Sorry, for all his ideas about creativity and innovations, the man just doesn't understand those words. Not surprising really since he stole ideas and call them innovations all his life. You really wanna help, Gates? Instead of providing a computer for illiterate people, why don't you start with the basic: invest in people to teach them how to read. In the long run, it will help them much more than knowing how to click on pictures as literacy helps them with non-computer stuff and let them read books so they can understand new concepts and broaden their minds.

And BTW, Gates, plug a second mouse to a Mac and you can control the cursor using two mice automatically without any further effort. That's what you mean by innovative, right? 'Cause I can't imagine kids having to track 50 cursors swarming at the same time on the screen, but since you are innovative, I guess you can innovate a way to make cursors look different.

Application outside developing world: PC gaming (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456217)

And BTW, Gates, plug a second mouse to a Mac and you can control the cursor using two mice automatically without any further effort.

The last time I tried this with a Mac, I got both mice fighting over one pointer. The idea here is to extend an operating system to support multiple pointers and multiple input foci.

In fact, this has implications outside the developing world. For instance, in computer gaming, most video games require one PC per player because the operating system can't reliably read more than one independent keyboard or pointing device. This research is about Microsoft trying to make Windows catch up with what video game consoles could do nearly a decade ago [wikipedia.org] , and it would boost both "Games for Windows" and Media Center PCs running Windows Vista Home Premium.

Re:Text-free UI? (3, Interesting)

Cairnarvon (901868) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456355)

And BTW, Gates, plug a second mouse to a Mac and you can control the cursor using two mice automatically without any further effort.

Windows has been able to do that since at least Windows 95 as well. That's not what he was talking about here.

There's some irony in complaining about how Gates has made a career out of stealing ideas, and then bringing up Apple as a counter-example. If anyone has been stretching the word ``innovation'' beyond all recognisability, it's Jobs.
(Not a Gates fan either, though, and as a rule, I'll take predictability over ``innovation'' in user interfaces any day.)

why not teach the illiterate instead? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456233)

Because they would start thinking instead of working for Gates and his friends?
Yeah, creative capitalism at its best.
Or the beginning of Idiocracy?

Re:Text-free UI? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456303)

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but they may not be exactly *the* thousand words you need to convey your information.
If I didn't know better I would say this is this a subtle argument for RISC versus CISC.

Re:Text-free UI? (5, Interesting)

FilterMapReduce (1296509) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456307)

Let's face it, text was invented for a purpose. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but they may not be exactly *the* thousand words you need to convey your information.

Indeed, this is related to text-based computing in a very direct way. Shell scripting (like all programming) is the practice of describing to the computer exactly what you want it to do—word for word, so to speak. Graphic UIs, for all their advantages, don't let the user give such specific instructions, forcing them to perform the individual steps themselves: click that file, move it here, click that file, move it there, executing the algorithm yourself instead of describing to the computer. Like the summary says, "illiterate computing" pretty much nails it on the head.

Not that I'm bashing GUIs or saying that anyone who uses one is non-metaphorically "illiterate". Good GUIs are obviously indispensable in modern software, and with good reason. But they can never fully replace the expressive abilities of the command line. To swing back on-topic, a fully graphical UI for people who really are fully illiterate is a noble idea, but considering the limitations of a normal GUI, it would suffer serious drawbacks, to say the least.

The literacy metaphor in comparing text-based and graphical interfaces is explored very nicely in "In the Beginning was the Command Line" [cryptonomicon.com] by Neal Stephenson.

Text free UI? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455781)

Teach the buggers to read.

Reading training software? (0, Troll)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456119)

Teach the buggers to read.

Imagine software used by students with their teachers to help the students learn to read. What kind of user interface should the student side of this software have?

Re:Reading training software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456163)

I know what Gates means, i'm a commerce student after all :) creative capitalism is paying for something so bad you should get paid to use it and then not being able to sell the updated version (vista) because it is even worse.

Re:Reading training software? (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456201)

Paper?

Forced Product (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455785)

"Creative Capitalism" sounds like a scam

Creative Capitalism (5, Insightful)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455801)

That's a synonym for Open Source, Mr Gates.

I know ONE way to uplift the poor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455835)

...Creative Socialism.

Yes! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455983)

...Creative Socialism.

See, I'm tired of working. I want to sit around, drink coffee, beer, scotch and eat Pizza and the best Salmon. I want to watch Jerry Springer all day and eat bon bons! Occasionally, read, nah; who am I kidding.

All of this at the expense of the rich! The rich are ripping everyone off! Just because they got lucky! Well, enough of that! They get lucky then they'll have to support me! Why all you should make is enough to live on and the rest goes to us poor poor! We deserve it because we're unlucky! It's not our fault that we like beer! It's not our fault that we like to screw and have children we can't afford to support!

This non -sense of being rewarded for effort has to stop! It's a proven scientific fact that work is bad for your health! And if folks want to damage their health with work because of their own mental illness, thereby putting a strain on society, they should pay the bulk of the taxes an keep us healthy people supported!

Re:Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456023)

Despite the lack of empirical verification you were so enamored with your religion that you wasted ten minutes writing three paragraphs of gibberish no one will read through.

I blame the man for by extreme tan (1)

Notegg Nornoggin (1175269) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456041)

It certainly ain't our fault we was borned black!

Creative Commies (cc) (0, Flamebait)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456129)

...Creative Socialism.

More like Creative Communism [boingboing.net] .

Re:Creative Capitalism (5, Informative)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455995)

Funny thing about 'creative capitalism'.. Bill Gates owns one of the larger image banks on the internet right now. Unfortunately the current laws which allow the creative individuals who make money off their artwork on those image banks are costing Mr. Gates a portion of money (what with them owning the rights to their own work). SO he's currently one of the voices trying to get the copyright laws changed so any non-registered creative works become orphaned if their creators don't watch over them like a hawk (the current laws copyright everything by default and you don't have to pay money for it). If the law is changed all the works on those image banks will lose their copyright and Mr. Gates will be able to turn a profit on them, while all the creative people learn a hard lesson in capitalism.

Re:Creative Capitalism (5, Insightful)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456073)

That's not capitalism. That's using government to get what you want by force.

Re:Creative Capitalism (2, Funny)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456321)

But, well, it is creative. ;)

Re:Creative Capitalism (2, Insightful)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456441)

I'm a bit of a cynic. I don't see a whole lot of difference.

Re:Creative Capitalism (5, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456273)

If the law is changed all the works on those image banks will lose their copyright and Mr. Gates will be able to turn a profit on them, while all the creative people learn a hard lesson in capitalism.

Thats no reason to question the sincerity of a man on a mission to relieve poverty while dressed in a $10,000 Armani suit.

I always wondered what a Billion dollar Bill looks like.

cell phone by the second (4, Insightful)

sylverboss (846288) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455807)

It's about time that cell phone companies introduce per second billing, but this is not going to happen anytime soon as it is a major part of their business... and fat profits. SB

Re:cell phone by the second (1)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455999)

Aerial Wireless was a smaller regional carrier that operated in the Southern US in the mid-to-late 90's. Their whole business plan was based around per second billing and their advertisements were based around various clever "real life" analogies to cell phone companies rounding to the minute. I believe they actually rounded to the 6 second mark, but I figure the effect was pretty much the same.

They were bought out by Voicestream in 2001 or 2002; Voicestream subsequently changed its name to T-Mobile. I don't think it was a case of financial problems that led to the buyout - Voicestream was just one of the rapidly-growing cell companies at the time that went around making big offers on small, local providers as part of their expansion plan.

So, yeah, it can and has been done.

Re:cell phone by the second (5, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456013)

It's about time that cell phone companies introduce per second billing, but this is not going to happen anytime soon as it is a major part of their business... and fat profits.

They bill per second in the UK (e.g. Orange [orange.co.uk] , O2 [o2online.ie] )

Re:cell phone by the second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456131)

I am looking forward to per month billing, actually. The cost of 1 second of airtime is even more inconceivable than the cost of a minute of airtime. That makes it easier to nickel and dime the customer to death.

needs a logo (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455809)

I think the only way a Gates innovation like "Creative Capitalism" will really take off is if it has a nice logo to indicate when something is Creative Capitalism compliant. I suggest two lowercase C's in a circle.

Re:needs a logo MSFT- o ? (1)

holywarrior21c (933929) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456407)

But having nothing changed from current 'capitalism'. 'creative capitalism' is just a brand new product name. my conclusion in slashdottian:
1.Bill Gates seeks to engineer whole new economic system.
2.Copy
3.???
4.???
5.Rename
6.Profit!
Are we CC ready?

creative (2, Insightful)

rpillala (583965) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455813)

What does this have to do with capitalism? Creativity isn't limited to any particular economic system.

Re:creative (2, Funny)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455837)

Forget capitalism; I was going to ask what it had to do with creativity :)

But, but... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455843)

Creative [creative.com] *is* a capitalist company!

Gotta monetize it (5, Insightful)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455851)

MS is obsessed with monetizing everything. Creative Capitalism is just their answer to Creative Commons, and Open Source. Public Domain they don't care much about because they can at least charge for access to the content or a conversion of the content depending on the platform.

"It is mainly corporations that have the skills to make technological innovations work for the poor. "

He means money, not skill, and if you are trying to help the poor, then you have to give them a way to survive despite not having money, not a way to keep depending on money and make that dependence even stronger. Who knows, maybe they are just interested on getting poor countries up to getting an economy going just so it's a new place to put up a toll booth or a new culture to start selling Windows to every hear, and if they develop these markets then they will start funneling money towards MS or at least not investing time/energy/mindshare in OSS.

The OLPC may not have succeeded with its goals but it at least had the right philosophy: Start making the third world independent and self sufficient, get people to discover and collaborate on their strengths, and to build themselves up without reliance on those who are already self sufficient. For developing countries it is very important to come up independent so others don't come in and take advantage of you whenever you have gained any amount of wealth. It's a lot harder to be taken advantage of, and you also have more bargaining power in the world forum, if you are independent.

Re:Gotta monetize it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455885)

Say what you will about bill gates and M$, but the man has donated a fuckton of his money to make the world a better place(Malaria cures, anyone?)

Re:Gotta monetize it (5, Insightful)

Amiga Trombone (592952) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456001)

Say what you will about bill gates and M$, but the man has donated a fuckton of his money to make the world a better place(Malaria cures, anyone?)

Has he done the world more good giving away his money than he did in the process of earning it? Think about that one for a while.

Re:Gotta monetize it (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456193)

Yes.

Game, set match. I win, you lose.

I just DESTROYED YOU BITCH!!!!!

Re:Gotta monetize it (-1)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456425)

There's one critical certainty, and one critical uncertainty to keep in mind here. The critical certainty is that if Gates hadn't done it, someone else would've done it instead. The critical uncertainty is whether or not the other guy would've done the same with regards to charity. Think about -that- one for a while.

Re:Gotta monetize it (3, Funny)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456149)

A few typos in there, pal.

the man has donated a fuckton of our money, that he stole through illegal monopolistic practices, to salve his conscience and save his image

That's what you meant to write.

Re:Gotta monetize it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455889)

>Who knows, maybe they are just interested on getting poor countries up to getting an
>economy going just so it's a new place to put up a toll booth or a new culture to start
>selling Windows to every hear, and if they develop these markets then they will start
>funneling money towards MS or at least not investing time/energy/mindshare in OSS.

Did I miss something?
What's the problem with this? It sounds like both parties involved benefits greatly.

Re:Gotta monetize it (0, Troll)

barometz (1307743) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455943)

"Creative Communism", you're making it way too easy. Sheesh.

Re:Gotta monetize it (5, Insightful)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455961)

You have completely missed the point. I'm guessing you just read the title, not even the summary! This is not Bill Gates speaking on behalf of Microshaft, this is Bill Gates speaking on behalf of good conscience, one of the greatest foundations in existence, and a complete understanding of the corporate world.

We'd all love to give money to help the world, but we all also happen to want/need it as well. It's hard for businesses to give money away because their job, their entire purpose, is to make it for themselves.

Take the example of the RED campaign, as given up-top. They managed to sell something (absurd, imho) that people buy, thereby making more money (and, presumably, problems) for them and their stockholders, but meanwhile a portion of all the profits goes to AIDS work.

That is Creative Capitalism.

Gates understands that you can't just throw money at a problem, you need to create a project that is beneficial for all parties involved. He's suggesting we do more for ourselves by helping others.

Re:Gotta monetize it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456107)

speaking on behalf of good conscience

The man doesn't have one.

one of the greatest foundations in existence

You mean the one causing deaths... the one created purely to promote US Intellectual Property rights abroad?

and a complete understanding of the corporate world

The only things he understands is corporate greed, lock-in and abusing monopolies.

Gates understands that you can't just throw money at a problem, you need to create a project that is beneficial for all parties involved.

All involved? His actions help big pharma & other companies in the US and very little else.

Re:Gotta monetize it (1)

remmelt (837671) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456549)

> It's hard for businesses to give money away because their job, their entire purpose, is to make it for themselves.

Says who? Step one of "creative capitalism" (a term that shares the same level of bs as web2.0) should be the realisation that not everything a company does needs to make money.

To: Bill Gates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455857)

RE: Creative Capitalism

End all Microsoft operating systems except dos.

Thanks.

Cordially,
K. Trout

lets be honest now (5, Insightful)

SirShmoopie (1333857) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455863)

People scraping by on less than a dollar a day aren't going to be interested in anything like this.

Ordinary priorities like eating, keeping a roof over their heads and trying not to get sick and die are likely to be far more important.

Also, with all due respect to his charitable efforts, for which, if for little else, I respect him, what does he, as one of the richest men in the world, think he's doing saying what people in abject poverty want?

I'd venture a guess that what they want is for a persons worth and entitlement to the basics of life to be unrelated to money.

If we can afford to pour billions into a shallow fight to control Oil, We can afford to make life's basics free for anyone who asks.

Re:lets be honest now (1)

abstract daddy (1307763) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456079)

Since we're on the subject of being honest, I wonder what would happen if, with the wave of a magic wand, all developing countries would be uplifted to the level of, say, China or India? How quickly would the planet be depleted of resources and ruined by pollution?

Re:lets be honest now (4, Interesting)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456263)

If we can afford to pour billions into a shallow fight to control Oil, We can afford to make life's basics free for anyone who asks.

I certainly agree with your sentiments, but the truth is that we can't afford to. There are simply too many people and there isn't enough wealth in the world. Capitalism's main problem is that it doesn't distribute wealth equitably. But it IS great at generating wealth. This was a main point Gates made in the article. But it isn't enough. We aren't wealthy enough, and the growth of wealth in our global economy is not enough to keep pace - even in theory - with past or present population growth to carry everyone forward adequately (i.e. with a standard of living acceptable by modern western standards) even if all wealth was distributed evenly. The easiest proof of this comes from the well-known study that showed if everyone one Earth consumed the same resources as the average American, we would need 3 Earths to generate the basic inputs of materials and energy - clearly an impossibility.

My field of expertise happens to be international development, and one of the issues that has recently become impolitic to mention is population growth. We used to more openly recognize population growth as a major problem. Not so much now - you can conjecture why if you like. Regardless, population is and will continue to be the major obstacle standing in the way of broad-scale socioeconomic and environmental sustainability. There are just too many people.

As one quick example, I worked in the Middle East for a number of years in several countries that were really close to an ideal development scenario: the governments had tons of money thanks to oil and low initial populations. It was basically a blank slate with a blank check - fantastic! Build roads here, power plants there, schools here, hospitals there. And things have gone really very well. But rather than enjoy a GDP per capita of something like $20,000, those countries now have GDP/c of something under $5,000. Why? Because Islam forbids birth control just like Catholicism, and the populations are growing at 15-25% annually.

Re:lets be honest now (4, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456289)

Ordinary priorities like eating, keeping a roof over their heads and trying not to get sick and die are likely to be far more important.

And what if they already have a roof and enough food? Or do you think that there are only two groups of people, starving people and people who have plenty and can easily pay for a new PC every year.

This is basicaly the stage of 'learning a man to fish' instead of giving him a fish.

Here [wikipedia.org] a smaple of a multi seat solution which still requires multiple monitors and costs 50% of what they would pay normaly. Now imagine removing 50% of the monitors, so that students have to work together on one monitor.

Not only will this cause a drop in price, it will cause kids to work together and learn social skills at the same time and will learn what they need to learn better, because of the interaction with other kids.

So this could benefit kids in shools everywhere, including the rich kids.

Re:lets be honest now (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456313)

To his credit, he's taken far more of an interest in this group than most slashdot readers. I know this is slashdot and gates-bashing is in vogue, but can we at least let the man try to give back?

Re:lets be honest now (1, Interesting)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456517)

...with all due respect to his charitable efforts, for which, if for little else, I respect him...

Uh. I'd have more respect for his charitable efforts if he was giving away more money than he was taking in. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation consistently donates about half of its previous year's revenues. So his pile of money is growing only half as fast as it would if he didn't give any away. It isn't shrinking at all. A quick look at the tax law shows the reason: by giving away this little bit every year, B&MGF avoids having to pay a lot more in USA taxes.

Mr. Bill used to dress like a geek, but he was never a geek: however you define geekdom, avarice would never be its dominant quality. Mr. Bill now prefers to wear the vestments of a philanthropist, but again it has all got to do with his outer appearance. His manifest behavior continues to be that of an avaricious pig.

Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455887)

Bill Gates makes his case for Creative Capitalism in TIME, citing projects like a Text-Free UI for illiterate computing, the use of Multimouse technology to allow fifty kids to share one computer display

Whutz daes thas battun di?
(Google translater: Illiterate moron -> English: What does this button do?)

Text-Free UI, and now... (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455891)

And now ladies and gentlemen... our newest innovation... the wheel-less man-powered transportation! The means of transportation of the future! Putting gasoline in the trunk? So passé!

Combine now pleasure to utility by inserting food in your mouth, and use this new innovation to transport yourself for miles on end! Never will you curse at the traffic for being so slow again! Never will you have to empty your wallet at the gas station! The future is at your feet, or rather, the future is IN your feet!!

Bill Gates' new role in life (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455905)

is to furnish useful case studies of, "What would happen if some well-connected billionaire tried to solve some of the world's problems by..."?

As opposed to actually solving them. But at least we learn something that we can discuss in a coherent way.

oh boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455911)

Cater to illiterates, enlarge the userbase of unskilled and untrainable labor, establish an intellectually coddled slave class which is content to breed and toil without troubling themselves with stupid things like 'reading' and more importantly 'politics'.

Corporations as philanthropists is not the goal (4, Interesting)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455913)

Every time there is a discussion about the Gates foundation, someone will predictably stand up and say that Gates is not a philanthropist because his actions as Microsoft CEO were not consistently philanthropic.

I don't look to commercial corporations to be philanthropists. A commercial corporation is a voluntary collective of investors who want to maximize their financial investment. That's OK with me. If that investment is maximized then some of the individual investors will see a personal calling to use that money for philanthropy. This is what you see happening to Gates today. That is genuine and real. Corporate philanthropy, on the other hand, is most often a flim flam exercise in repairing ill will so the corporation will restore its ability to generate lots of revenue.

So, give Gates a break. He's hugely rich. Now he's getting older and perhaps he has become more reflective about making a difference in the lives of people less fortunate than him. I'm not going to bust his balls for that.

Re:Corporations as philanthropists is not the goal (4, Interesting)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456035)

I am not sure that you can separate a person from their past that easily. This is not a simple person and the motives that drive Bill are likely to be well beyond characterization in simple terms. Much like everybody, they have their personal slant on life and I am sure that he curses open source. I think that if he really wanted to fix some problems, he could give his money to a proven winner like open source technology that benefits everybody. The goal of business is to make profit and that is not -always- the best thing for people in general.

Re:Corporations as philanthropists is not the goal (0, Troll)

farmer11 (573883) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456147)

I don't think we can say what the effect of the Foundation will be for a long time. I am, however, skeptical. BillG was a robber baron for 3 decades, proving that power and money were his greatest ideals.

Now he wants to give some money back. It seems like everyone assumes that giving away large sums of money means you're a great philanthropist. I disagree. Lots of his pay outs seem to be band aid solutions that sound good but are not really concerned with affecting the deep and painful social change necessary to make lasting improvements in impoverished parts of the world. He seems to be giving people fish so they will be dependent on gifts rather than teaching them to fish.

His gifts seem like investments in the same apathetic economic machinery that does little or nothing to help these impoverished places. Investing in drug research? Why, so these companies can make a profit selling the drugs to these needy and poor people? Thanks Bill!

Re:Corporations as philanthropists is not the goal (1, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456243)

Every time there is a discussion about the Gates foundation, someone will predictably stand up and say that Gates is not a philanthropist because his actions as Microsoft CEO were not consistently philanthropic.
.

His actions as Microsoft CEO were not just "not consistently philanthropic", they were shown to be illegal.

A commercial corporation is a voluntary collective of investors who want to maximize their financial investment. That's OK with me.

It's OK with me so long as it is done legally.

So, give Gates a break. He's hugely rich.

Hugely rich with illegally begotten money.

"Success has a tendency to conceal and throw a veil over the evil deeds of men." -- Demosthenes

"Prefer loss to the wealth of dishonest gain; the former vexes you for a time; the latter will bring you lasting remorse." -- Chilo

"He is not great, who is not greatly good." -- William Shakespeare

Re:Corporations as philanthropists is not the goal (2, Interesting)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456323)

I don't look to commercial corporations to be philanthropists.

It's not the purpose of corporations to be philanthropists. In fact, a corporation that can actually afford to be philanthropist is unlikely to be engaged in free market capitalism.

The theory of free market capitalism has it that competition with the incentive of possible profit will enhance the efficiency of production so that everyone benefits from lower costs for more value. Most corporations are not interested in that; increasing efficiency is hard. It's often easier to affect the other side of the equation; decrease competition. Buy the competition, lobby for more protection, raise switching costs, tie products, use loss-leaders, etc. Gates is the posterboy for such corporate monopolism; anticompetetive behaviour that keeps the price of things out of the hands of exactly the people he claims to want to help.

So, give Gates a break.

I see no indication that Gates has changed. He's still not interested in competitive free markets; he's got his fingers deep in the patent pot, something that's actively preventing cheap medicines in many countries.

Sure, he's found a new mission in whitewashing now, but his actions suggest it's the same old Gates. Control and profit's the name of the game, wether you're pushing software or image.

Re:Corporations as philanthropists is not the goal (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456565)

See post reply to a similar post. [slashdot.org]

[I begin to find Mr. Bill apologists as tiring as the astroturfers of a younger day, and I begin to wonder if they are being subsidized in a similar way.]

Nothing new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455929)

From what I've read, Gates doesn't seem to be proposing anything new, he's just putting a cute name on existing ideas.

Part of what he proposes is just corporate philanthropy and should be analyzed as such. What gives corporate managers the right to give away the shareholder's money? But on the other hand, if you disburse the profits to shareholders and let them give to charity the money is hit with double taxation.

The rest, like doing work that builds a stock of reputation capital, is in agreement with profit maximization and just about every company already does this. If they aren't doing it in ways that Gates thinks is profitable, either companies are leaving money on the table or maybe it's not that great of an idea.

Both of these issues are covered extensively in the blog, but it would be interesting to have a discussion here too.

Not Surprising (4, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455953)

A long-time practitioner of "creative bookkeeping" and "creative business practices" advocates "creative capitalism." What a shocker.

I'm sure mob bosses would rather people call murder "creative surgery" too.

Low hanging fruit (1)

debuglife (806973) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455959)

Text-Free UI represents a kind of low hanging fruit in the "developing countries computing" (or whatever fancy name they call it by). If you had no expertise in the UI area, and then, if I were to ask you now, how would you design an UI for the illiterate, what would be your answer ? Text-Free-UI would be your first guess. And of course, until the Microsoft Research India people, you'll probably acknowledge that it wont be sufficiently good. Bill Gates should stop acting as if he is a visionary. He is not. He is a create new business models / optimize existing business models person. He should not try to masquerade as Steve Jobs, or for that matter, Nicholas Negroponte. Go toot Microsoft research's horn elsewhere.

Re:Low hanging fruit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456269)

Microsoft Research, btw, is the successor of IBM Research. It does awesome work, and hires awesome people. Indicates how Microsoft is the new IBM

The big opportunity for capitalism: solar (5, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455965)

When you invest in solar, you can very likely get your money back and then some(if you invest in profitable solar companies). The key is solar is great to be corporate because corporations have a way to pushing things to their saturation point. Solar has no saturation point as long as there are stars in the universe. But for right now, we should at least be looking to capitalize on Earth's potential.

Once we have abundant energy on Earth through Solar, we can use it in electric or hydrogen vehicles. With electric vehicles, we can transport the energy from one plant or another with only using human labor or electric trains. Once you have "free energy" powering vehicles, the cost of transportation gets less. When the cost of transportation gets less, the cost of food and water gets less. Also "free energy" by the coast can turn salt water into drinking water then vehicles can transport them inland.

Right there, you just made an impact on many poor peoples' lives without actually donating any money. I think any geek who wants to use technology to solve the world's problems should look inward into conserving money so they can buy stock in profitable solar. I think you should do your research into different companies. I've found mine: nanosolar.com. The only problem is that they haven't gone public yet. So I save money. I'm pretty much broke, but at least I got the spirit of it all.

Re:The big opportunity for capitalism: solar (1)

Random Destruction (866027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456063)

And what if you drop this basket which is so conveniently holding all your eggs?

Re:The big opportunity for capitalism: solar (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456347)

Once we have abundant energy on Earth through Solar, we can use it in electric or hydrogen vehicles. With electric vehicles, we can transport the energy from one plant or another with only using human labor or electric trains. Once you have "free energy" powering vehicles, the cost of transportation gets less. When the cost of transportation gets less, the cost of food and water gets less. Also "free energy" by the coast can turn salt water into drinking water then vehicles can transport them inland.

The countries that don't have (and can't afford to maintain) 24/7 electricity aren't going to splash out for expensive solar arrays. And they're certainly not going to afford to build an infrastructure capable of sustaining electric or hydrogen cars.

Solar is only affordable by the countries that don't really need it right now.

Re:The big opportunity for capitalism: solar (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456365)

Also "free energy" by the coast can turn salt water into drinking water then vehicles can transport them inland.

Why not use the way water is already transported to the homes of people?
But obviously people buy water instead of drinking it out of the tab and that is deliverd by a truck. Often it is as good or better then bottled water.

Except everybody says "Not where I live" and buy into the bullshit that has brought to them by marketing.

Some interesting read here [wisebread.com] and there are many more sites that will explain what you are exactly are paying for.

Re:The big opportunity for capitalism: solar (1)

Manwe's Herald (586313) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456383)

Like everything there is a saturation point in solar energy: exposed area. Anyway, cheap energy will never be a cure for poverty and malnutrition. People get richer will simply consume more and people not dying will increase population. After some time, everything will stabilize and in proportion the number of rich and poor will stay the same.

The only viable option is to consume less and increase efficiency to become less dependent on energy (any source). Transporting goods in all cases is the worst thing to do.

"lifting up" is the wrong answer (0)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455997)

People need to stand up on their own.

Simple efforts to remove some obstacles are great -- providing clean drinking water and a few other background-style resources. But people make their own choices. Just giving people stuff doesn't change who those people are. They need to accomplish things on their own for that.

Re:"lifting up" is the wrong answer (1)

rhakka (224319) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456327)

providing clean drinking water?

what are you, some kind of communist?

they should obviously be cleaning their own drinking water, if having clean drinking water is really so important.

and education? fah! they should pool together to teach their kids everything they need to know in their community.

If they don't, well, they made their choice. let them starve and die for it.

so says the wisdom of the free market!

says the truly wise, people stand up on their own when you show them how, and they believe they can, because they see how it works. when everything around you is shit, not many have the inner strength and conviction (or insanity) to believe they can be different "just because".

Text free UI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456039)

Illiterate people computing ?
Keep the stupid / lazy people stupid Right ?

Now image what a 3rd world tribe who cant read or write might do with a Computer.

They Might hurt themselves or worse with the Monitor when its 27 thousand volts of screen Voltage comes in contact with their bubble bath of Mud . If they fart during the process, it can cause a methane explosion it might harm others too.

Multimouse for Linux? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456059)

If there is such a great demand for multimouse, it should not be too hard to have this for Linux with things we have now. This should be pretty easy to do, compared with all the trouble Microsoft is talking about.
What do we already have under Linux.
Multi user login. Check. It is already possible to connect several people on the same machine with each their own monitor, mouse AND keyboard. http://www.linuxtoys.org/multiseat/multiseat.html [linuxtoys.org] and many other sites.
It is already possible to have multiple workplaces.
So all we need to do are two things.
1) Let each workspace be its own X session
2) Show all workspaces on one workspace

Even though I am unable to do this, I can see that this should be possible without too much trouble. For somebody with the apropriate skills, this sounds like a nice project for the weekend as Linux already has the building stones, or am I thinking too simple?

Multimouse, single monitor? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456165)

It is already possible to connect several people on the same machine with each their own monitor, mouse AND keyboard.

That's a good start. But seeing as how adding a monitor is still much more expensive than adding a keyboard and mouse, shouldn't it be possible to share monitors too?

Well (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456065)

I suppose that's better than calling for "creative government".

Sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456105)

"Creative Capitalism" sounds vaguely like Bush's 2000 political slogan "Compassionate Conservatism." Uh-huh.

Just more lipstick for the pig. And in this case, it's a Capitalist Pig to boot.

Gates' legacy (1, Informative)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456133)

Bill Gates is just trying to improve how the history books will view his life. Fortunately, his legacy of illegal activity, the stifling of innovation, and the draining of profits from the PC industry will outlive the recent attempts of his publicity staff to have him be seen as a humanitarian.

Gates Feeling Guilty? (0, Troll)

TW Atwater (1145245) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456179)

Gates reminds me of the Hollywood airheads who, feeling guilty about getting so much money for doing nothing of value, attempt to buy back their souls by championing some nitwit cause. If he really wants to do something constructive, he should fix the Crapware he foisted on the world.

There was a *lot* of energy devoted to... (1)

toby (759) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456221)

...making Bill Gates and his cronies A LOT LESS POOR, however.

As usual, 'creative capitalism' is only going to deepen inequalities (that's what Bill epitomises, after all - the obscene, not to mention illegal, enrichment of one man at the expense of society in general).

50 kids sharing one display? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456229)

I don't care how large the display is 50 pointers on one display sounds like a poorly thought out solution for someone with no money.

Hypocrite (-1, Flamebait)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456253)

Do as I say, not as I do. . . This asshole has no right to expect people to listen to his suggestions. Not that they are bad, but he has no credibility whatsoever. He is despicable and corrupt.

Re:Hypocrite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456575)

I can see you writing this post from a dark basement where you often cross dress and dance the "mangina" in front of a mirror all the while screaming "Bill Gates has no credibility and it puts the lotion on the skin!".

wouldn't it be better to (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456283)

Ensure that everyone the world over can READ? I would think Literacy would be a far (far) more important skill that computer literacy, especially in parts of the world without as many computers. In first world countries there's just no excuse for illiteacy (other than severe, crippling learning disabilities). A computer even the illiterate can use is a fine goal, but ensuring universal literacy in at least one language for the entire world is better.

How many people could Bill feed? (4, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456331)

If they just ate him.

Illiterate computing is the LAST thing we need! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456335)

Look at McDonald's... their registers just about have buttons with pictures of the damn food on them, and those idiots still fuck my order up all the time.

You don't stoop to accommodate the lowest common denominator, goddammit, TEACH PEOPLE TO READ so they can use a normal computer! This is right up there with the US having so much shit in English -and- Spanish. You want to live and work in this country? Fine-- learn our language or starve. Here's another example: Teaching schoolkids how to use WINDOWS instead of teaching them how to use A COMPUTER. Teaching specifics rules out over teaching concepts that can be applied elsewhere.

God, I'm chokin' on my own rage!

Re:Illiterate computing is the LAST thing we need! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456427)

Teaching specifics rules out over teaching concepts that can be applied elsewhere.

I sort of trailed off there without really clearly indicating that I think the above is ridiculously stupid. It's hard to effectively communicate tones of disgust in writing, sometimes.

Bill Gate's "Stalinist capitalism" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24456399)

Bill Gate's most important personal contribution to "creative capitalism" was in fact, distorting the most fundamental supposed value of it: free market competition. Microsoft created market monopoly by any means they could, even ignoring and violating laws, around the world. Bill Gate's capitalism in reality was the most "Stalinist capitalism" that ever existed - that's what created for him an unprecedented personal wealth.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?