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Nathan Myhrvold, Do-Gooder

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the not-to-mention-serious-cook dept.

Microsoft 109

theodp writes "Perturbed by a GigaOm item which likened him to 'Darth Vader doing some charity work as he completes the Death Star,' Intellectual Ventures CEO Nathan Myhrvold talks about the goals of his 'Global Good' program and fires back at critics in an interview with GeekWire's Todd Bishop. The technology industry is a little too obsessed with 'sending little messages to each other and having fun on a social network' for Myhrvold, who hopes to tackle bigger problems like malaria, polio, and HIV with the help of funding from buddy Bill Gates. 'I don't mean to call Zynga out in a negative way,' says Myhrvold, 'but is Zynga doing God's work? Is Facebook doing God's work? Even setting aside what God's work means, I think it's pretty easy to say, those companies are doing wonderful things, but they are for-profit ventures. It's either tools or toys for the rich.' BTW, if you're ready to do God's work, IV's looking for a Vice President, Global Good."

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Myhrvold's plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957459)

Collect the patents... ALL the patents... then hold the world tech industry ransom for...

(stares hard with index finger pointing at mouth)

  One Hundred Billion Dollars!

Re:Myhrvold's plan (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#40957819)

Collect the patents... ALL the patents...

Good! Then he can pay for the courts, police, and the military to enforce them.

Silly slashdotter... (2)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 2 years ago | (#40958903)

paying for services is what poor people do, not rich patent attorneys. To paraphrase Gore Vidal: Socialism for the rich, dog eat dog capitalism for the poor....

Re:Myhrvold's plan (1)

radarvectors (103651) | about 2 years ago | (#40962049)

PHASE 1:

Collect the patents... ALL the patents...

PHASE 2:

?

PHASE 3:

Profit.

Or... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957483)

I'd rather they do good, than God's work.

Re:Or... (4, Interesting)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#40957545)

Which god is he talking about, is what I want to know. I mean does he want us to start hitting people with hammers, praying for the undead lord to return from another dimension to cleanse the world of unbelievers with fire, start talking to our ancestors through their severed heads, raise Cthulhu from his watery grave, or what?

Re:Or... (4, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40957647)

Which god is he talking about, is what I want to know. I mean does he want us to start hitting people with hammers, praying for the undead lord to return from another dimension to cleanse the world of unbelievers with fire, start talking to our ancestors through their severed heads, raise Cthulhu from his watery grave, or what?

One of the crazy ones, anyway. His plan for solving global warming is to pump sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere and hand out uranium to private citizens to build small personal reactors. His hobbies include searching for alien life, barbequing french food, and photographing wildlife. I'm not sure if the last two are related or not...

Re:Or... (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | about 2 years ago | (#40958067)

Gack. Messiah complex-with-money-and-patent-portfolio.... and really judgmental, too. Do gooders, doing God's work. Not bad, of course, but when you ostensibly have God's work to do, your agency can do no wrong, hurt no one, and the ends justify the means. You're inherently right, and others are apostates. Wait, wear did we hear that before?

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40958315)

" Messiah complex-with-money-and-patent-portfolio"

Elon Musk? Oh no wait, he fellates the geek rocket peener, so he's above criticism.

Re:Or... (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about 2 years ago | (#40958421)

They come in all kinds of different flavors, don't they?

Re:Or... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40959037)

Elon Musk builds actual businesses. Like ones that send rockets into space at pennies on the dollar, produce the world's best electric cars, and supply more solar panels than any other company.

Re:Or... (5, Insightful)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 2 years ago | (#40958523)

Is this story some kind of sick joke? Nathan Myrvold lecturing us all about being better people? What the hell has Nathan F***ing Myrhvold ever done for the world? Myrhvold first became filthy rich as chief technology officer for Microsoft. He helped the company make billions of dollars abusing their monopoly power to get consumers to buy crappy software.

Unlike Bill Gates, who sees the light and decides to devote his life to charity, Myrhvold goes on to devote his life to setting up Intellectual Ventures, the world's largest patent troll. Gate's post-Microsoft career is dictated by his desire to work at something other than making money. Myrhvold's post-Microsoft career is dictated by the idea that he still wants to make an assload of money, he just doesn't want to actually do any work any more. He'd rather screw around in the kitchen and write a cookbook, while his company makes money by threatening to sue the people who are actually trying to innovate and create something.

Hell, he's not even funding this effort. Guess who's funding it? The article says it's "funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Asset Trust". So Gates is putting up the money, and Myrhvold is running around trying to take all the credit for being this great philanthropist. Well, I've got a suggestion for you Nathan. Want to make the world a better place? Shut down Intellectual Ventures. That would do far more to spur innovation than anything you've ever done.

What a pretentious douche.

Re:Or... (1, Insightful)

BenoitRen (998927) | about 2 years ago | (#40959137)

Unlike Bill Gates, who sees the light and decides to devote his life to charity

I suggest you read up on what his Foundation actually does to the world. Especially pay attention to who it gives money.

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40959347)

Two evil men, Bill and Nathan, each doing as much as they can to make the world a worse place. It is not circumstance that both of them support the industrialization of Africa and the subsequent destruction of its biosphere.

For both of these men, their "work" is destruction. This is similar to many flavors of Judeo-Christianity as these religions support destruction of the Earth's biosphere as well (and have been instrumental in destroying vast portions of the world already).

The general rule is that pretty much everyone with a "foundation" is evil. There are a few exceptions here and there, but none that have done much to change the world for better in any significant manner.

Re:Or... (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40961451)

Two evil men, Bill and Nathan, each doing as much as they can to make the world a worse place. It is not circumstance that both of them support the industrialization of Africa and the subsequent destruction of its biosphere.

I think as a prerequisite for stating that something is "evil", that it should make things worse, The industrialization of Africa couldn't be even the slightest bit worse than it is now.

Re:Or... (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 2 years ago | (#40963361)

So Gates is putting up the money, and Myrhvold is running around trying to take all the credit for being this great philanthropist.

In other breaking news: local alcoholic seen drinking wine, researchers shocked. "We never expected this might happen", commented Dr. N. S. Sherlock. "People behaving according to their nature completely revolutionizes our view of the nature of reality."

Some future experiments suggested by this amazing discovery include testing the long-ridiculed hypotheses that things get wet when left in the rain and burn when put in fire. "Imagine a future where you can predict how someone or something will behave based on how it's behaved in the past", continued Dr. Sherlock. "It's almost like the world had recognizable patterns, like it was governed by some sort of... laws of nature, for a lack of better term. It's eerie."

and the answer is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40958549)

Which god is he talking about ...?

Mammon.

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40958875)

Well, he's getting funding from Bill Gates, who has about as good a reputation on Slashdot as Satan has in general..

Flying Spaghetti Monster of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40960975)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

Re:Or... (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#40963301)

I think the truth is to be found somewhere in between these two statements..

Let us not forget that human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth. What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind.

What these blessed men have given us we must guard and try to keep alive with all our strength if humanity is not to lose its dignity, the security of its existence, and its joy in living.

-- Albert Einstein

Since no one really knows anything about God, those who think they do are just troublemakers.

-- Rabia

Re:Or... (4, Funny)

AmazingRuss (555076) | about 2 years ago | (#40957563)

God is supposed to be omnipotent. He can get off his ass and do his own work.

Re:Or... (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40957859)

God is supposed to be omnipotent. He can get off his ass and do his own work.

Perhaps, but he also has a twisted sense of humor.

Re:Or... (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 years ago | (#40962527)

Don't go giving kids ideas.

"Clean up your room"

"Sure mom, I'll do it right away"

*one hour later*

"Hey! You didn't clean up your room. What's happened?"

"I lied to you. Do you like my twisted sense of humour?"

"Ow, Ouch! Not the ears! I was doing God's work, honest! It was explained on slashdot! Ouch!"

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40963327)

I think it's like parents making their children do chores. Good for character and all that... Parents could do everything for their kids, but that usually doesn't end up well.

That said, parents who regularly kill their children or through inaction let them get killed aren't viewed very positively either.

Re:Or... (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#40957675)

They aim for "Global Good", while asking for you to do "God's work". They should make up their minds and either aim for "Global God" or do "Good's work". Right now, the message is inconsistent.

Re:Or... (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40957909)

They aim for "Global Good", while asking for you to do "God's work". They should make up their minds and either aim for "Global God" or do "Good's work". Right now, the message is inconsistent.

I don't know about you, but I would prefer people worship gods who say that global good is God's work (you may move the apostrophe if needed to accomodate your religious view). So the message isn't inconsistent, unless you worship a god that considers its work to be something else. Dollarus Maximus, for example... Good for personal fortune, not so good for property values.

Re:Or... (1)

Velex (120469) | about 2 years ago | (#40959491)

I don't know about you, but I would prefer people worship gods who say that global good is God's work

Well, but the trouble is that depending on how you interpret parts of the bible, that might be considered devil worship. For example, according to my ex-parents, free blacks are an abomination before their god because god made their skin dark to mark them as slaves after that incident when Noah got drunk off his hind end.

Re:Or... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#40960115)

Doing god's work is a colloquialism for doing good. Non native english speakers might not know this but the rest of you have no excuse.

Re:Or... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#40962503)

That sounds an awful lot like an ethnolect or a sociolect, not like a universal synonym. Do Buddhists, atheists, and, say, neopagans use the same expression?

Re:Or... (2)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#40962733)

We (atheists) see "doing God's work" as something fanatical religious people do to spread their superstitions for the benefit of their religious organizations.

Re:Or... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#40963669)

Doing god's work is a colloquialism for doing good. Non native english speakers might not know this but the rest of you have no excuse.

BTW, I've looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary, which usually contains even some pretty far-fetched stuff, and in the past, I actually did find there virtually all the colloquialisms I've ever needed to find out about, but "God's work" isn't anywhere to be seen.

Re:Or... (3, Insightful)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about 2 years ago | (#40957785)

Yeah, assuming he's being absolutely truthful, it's a lot like a maffia Don using his protection money to feed the homeless. That's great and all but he's still a scumbag.

Re:Or... (4, Informative)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 2 years ago | (#40959777)

Yeah, assuming he's being absolutely truthful, it's a lot like a maffia Don using his protection money to feed the homeless.

Which would be great if that's what Myrhvold was doing. Here's what the article says:

Scientists and researchers working with Intellectual Ventures have come up with lots of wild ideas over the years. Some of them have the potential to help the world, ranging from a laser to zap mosquitoes to a container for preserving vaccines for long periods of time. And now Nathan Myhrvold, the former Microsoft chief technology officer who founded Intellectual Ventures, wants to see those ideas rolled out and made available to the developing world. That’s the story behind Intellectual Ventures’ decision to seek a new vice president to lead its “Global Good” initiative. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Asset Trust..."

So it's not even Myrhvold's money, he's actually using Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's money and then lecturing to others about how they should do more. Yes, Nathan, by using other people's money to help people and then boasting about it, you've really shown us the way. Your selfless sacrifice, nobility and sense of humility have truly touched us all... you're up there with Jesus and Gandhi.

Re:Or... (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about 2 years ago | (#40963189)

Lasers that can identify and vaporize female mosquitos, (because only females bite humans). Is that good, or God's work?

http://intellectualventures.com/OurInventions/PhotonicFence.aspx [intellectualventures.com]

You be the judge, but how do I find one of these on amazon.com for overnight delivery? This looks like some awesome redneck fun.

smear campaign (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40957509)

'Darth Vader doing some charity work as he completes the Death Star',

Slashdot editors need to stop posting what is clearly rebel rhetoric. The first Death Star was used on Alderaan to save lives. The planet was partly hollow and heavily fortified; A great many imperial lives would have been sacrificed to end the war in a conventional ground-based attack. By destroying Alderann with the Death Star instead, billions of lives were saved. After that, the galaxy enjoyed its longest period of peace and prosperity in centuries.

The second Death Star was blown up before it was even completed, and it's construction was solely as a deterrent against future war -- it would have reduced the cost of maintaining a fleet of thousands of flag ships as fewer would have been needed for routine patrols. There were not many military personnel on the base at the time, most of those people were contractors working during the recession, caused by supply shortages because funds were diverted to combat the constant terrorist attacks by the rebels. When the Death Star fell, millions of contractors and private citizens lost their lives in an unparalleled terrorist attack. The Empire had no choice then but to respond to these right-wing religious nutjobs with overwhelming force.

Never Forget the Liberty Star disasters!

Re:smear campaign (0)

serialhex (780586) | about 2 years ago | (#40957603)

ohh.... for mod points! +5 funny plz!!

Re:smear campaign (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957687)

ROFLMAO! Thanks - I needed a good laugh today!

Re:smear campaign (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#40957749)

Instant classic

Re:smear campaign (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40957817)

Instant classic

In that case I'll claim that my use of "It's" was intentional then, when I write my memoirs, along with my excessive use, of the comma.

Re:smear campaign (3, Informative)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#40957763)

'Darth Vader doing some charity work as he completes the Death Star',

Slashdot editors need to stop posting what is clearly rebel rhetoric. The first Death Star was used on Alderaan to save lives. The planet was partly hollow and heavily fortified; A great many imperial lives would have been sacrificed to end the war in a conventional ground-based attack. By destroying Alderann with the Death Star instead, billions of lives were saved. After that, the galaxy enjoyed its longest period of peace and prosperity in centuries.

Besides, calling the Deployable Advanced Theatre Defense Station Armament a "Death Star" is highly inflammatory. Only the rebels call it that.

Re:smear campaign (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40959059)

right-wing religious nutjobs with overwhelming force.

I think most would characterize the Rebel Alliance as left-wing guerillas more so than right-wing religious nutjobs.

Bizarre: For profit work cannot be good? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957527)

Sorry, but that's insane and highly political.

Re:Bizarre: For profit work cannot be good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957575)

I'd also like to know how can curing hiv, malaria or polio be doing god's work. I mean, it was god that created all of those diseases in the first place, right? So why are you going AGAINST god's will? You have to assume he created them for a reason, and going around undoing his work probably won't earn you any brownie point. Jus' saying.

Re:Bizarre: For profit work cannot be good? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#40958361)

I mean, it was god that created all of those diseases in the first place, right?

No, they evolved. God only created the tasty plants and animals.

I'm ready to be called (2)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#40957597)

I'm ready to do God's work.... just, erm, how much does it pay?

Re:I'm ready to be called (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40957835)

I'm ready to do God's work.... just, erm, how much does it pay?

Historically it's been the blood of your enemies.

Hyperbole (1)

JOrgePeixoto (853808) | about 2 years ago | (#40960093)

The European theocracies ended some 300 years ago. Islamist theocracies still endure, but Christianity is fundamentally different from Islam.

It is quite rancorous to be unable to move on after 300 years.

Re:I'm ready to be called (2)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 2 years ago | (#40958249)

200 foreskins, give or take.

C.S. Lewis on tyrants (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#40957599)

Not directly related, but whenever an evil asshole starts prattling on about "God's work" or anything similar, it brings to mind this C.S. Lewis quote

âoeOf all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.â

Re:C.S. Lewis on tyrants (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957711)

I find it eternally hilarious that a Christian apologist, and an incredibly lousy one at that, bitched and moaned about omnipotent moral busybodies. Just what does he think his God is?

Re:C.S. Lewis on tyrants (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#40960145)

For all his faults, Lewis actually believed in God but he was smart enough to identify jackasses who were doing a lot of evil in his god's name.

Re:C.S. Lewis on tyrants (3, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40957773)

Not directly related, but whenever an evil asshole starts prattling on about "God's work" or anything similar, it brings to mind this C.S. Lewis quote...

I suppose now is a bad time to point out he was an ardent Christian who would take great offense to you misusing his words like that. I believe he might even respond with something like, "What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what kind of a person you are."

For every religious extremist who hurts others in the name of God, there are dozens more who help. I'm not suggesting that belief in God is necessary to help others, or in the final analysis, even related. I am saying it's the height of religious arrogance and intolerance to imply that anyone who uses the phrase "God's work" to describe their actions is an "evil asshole" who goes "prattling on". Would you cast them into a reputation and role from which they cannot escape? I have little time or sympathy for a man who believes another is incapable of doing good simply because he disagrees with that person's religious views.

Re:C.S. Lewis on tyrants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957985)

An ardent Christian would probably take umbrage as the words were not missued- and they convey a glimpse of what God intended and intended for them to say on His behalf.

Worry about yourself first and foremost. Let your actions speak for Him- and right now, you're not doing as good a job of it as you think you are. You're thinking you're doing good, when in all, you're doing harm to at least all Christians with this conduct.

Re:C.S. Lewis on tyrants (3, Informative)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#40958989)

I'm well aware that C.S. Lewis was an ardent Christian, but I do not believe I misused his words. I wasn't suggesting that anyone who uses "God's work" to describe their actions is an "evil asshole". I'm suggesting that Nathan Myhrvold, founder of major patent troll Intellectual Ventures, is an evil asshole, and that therefore when he claims to be doing God's work I'm immediately reminded of Lewis's words.

Re:C.S. Lewis on tyrants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40959229)

Would these dozens of other Christians who help in your opinion include the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the personnel involved with God's good work in The Inquisition? Probably not all of those people always had perfect certainty that what they were doing was God's work but I'm pretty sure that no small fraction of them did (and do).
I have never met God. I have never spoken to anyone I'd believe has actually met God either. Therefore I'm pretty sure anyone who claims to do God's work is saying something I can't double check with God Himself. There's a term for people who make unverifiable claims: Bullshit artists.
Similarly, since many people believe questionable things or lie it is perfectly reasonable to be suspicious of the business practices, income sources, sponsors and other actions of people who claim to be philanthropists. This is made no less so true in Nathan Myhrvold's case by his claim to serve someone who wouldn't say he wasn't if Nathan is lying.

Re:C.S. Lewis on tyrants (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40958513)

How many douchebags / sociopaths / crappy human beings do we know that actually believe they are such? Nathan reminds me of lawyers we have in Houston that make fortunes being litigious parasites on the medical industry, then turn around and trumpet their own virtues when they donate 10 million back to some medical institute. He's a douchebag, he has utterly rationalized to himself that he -is not- a douchebag, and that's the way it's going to stay. It would be nice if Nathan would just go away.

Re:C.S. Lewis on tyrants (1)

Peristaltic (650487) | about 2 years ago | (#40960007)

I can agree with that- Intelligence rarely correlates with character.

Re:C.S. Lewis on tyrants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40958753)

Not directly related, but whenever an evil asshole starts prattling on about "God's work" or anything similar, it brings to mind this C.S. Lewis quote

âoeOf all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.â

I've got another good quote for the occasion:

"And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends stol'n out of holy writ,
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil."
King Richard III (I, iii, 336-338)

freelancer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957607)

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Makes me cringe when people say that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957621)

Oh, wonderful, "doing God's work." Methinks someone has not had a long, hard look at what the God I'm presuming he calls his actually did in history (or so sayeth the Bible, anyway).

...unless he's trying to cause an apocalypse and bring the legions of hell upon the human race, in which case I'd say, yeah, like most corporations, he's doing God's work. More than likely, though, his God is Mammon.

Sock Puppet for Wallace Breen (1)

fruitbane (454488) | about 2 years ago | (#40957685)

Nathan Myhrvold is just a sock puppet for Wallace Breen.

"Well, we’ve had that name for a long time. I think we do a whole lot more good for the world than GigaOm does. How big is their malaria research project? How much effort do they put into polio? I’m quite curious! What on Earth have they done that is —"

vs

"Tell me, Dr. Freeman, if you can. You have destroyed so much. What is it, exactly, that you have created? Can you name even one thing? I thought not."

Re:Sock Puppet for Wallace Breen (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40957839)

"Tell me, Dr. Freeman, if you can. You have destroyed so much. What is it, exactly, that you have created? Can you name even one thing? I thought not."

"Money."

Re:Sock Puppet for Wallace Breen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40958009)

Money is not created. You don't make it. You earn it. All Money happens to be is an expression of the personal social power at any given moment relative to the total pool thereof, worldwide.

So... Again...what did he create?

Re:Sock Puppet for Wallace Breen (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 2 years ago | (#40958639)

Our money is created. It's a fiat currency created by the government, which then generates demand for said money by levying taxes which can only be remitted in that currency.

Doing God's work? Seriously? (5, Informative)

MaxTardiveau (629919) | about 2 years ago | (#40957707)

>> is Zynga doing God's work? Is Facebook doing God's work?

Yes, Nathan, you're doing a lot of wonderful work. But that doesn't excuse *how* you're getting your money these days. Your business practices are hurting the entire industry, and putting a big crimp on innovation. The end does not justify the means.

Anyone who has not yet listened to This American Life's episode on Mr. Myhrvold really ought to:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack/ [thisamericanlife.org]

Re:Doing God's work? Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957803)

(tongue in cheek) When I read the phrase "doing God's work", I knew he must be evil. (/tongue in cheek)

Sickens me... (3)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | about 2 years ago | (#40957721)

More intellect than he knows what to do with, and he chooses to leave MS and start a patent troll company... ugh.

"Myhrvold was born in Seattle, Washington. He attended Mirman School,[4] and began college at age 14.[5] He studied mathematics, geophysics, and space physics at UCLA (BSc, Masters). He was awarded a Hertz Foundation Fellowship for graduate study and he chose to study at Princeton University, where he earned a master's degree in mathematical economics and completed a PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics by age 23."

Re:Sickens me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40961651)

An under achiever shying away from his true potential?

whenever someone invokes god(s) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957731)

Whenever someone invokes god(s) as a motivation, one need only look at history to see how badly things turn out.

Don't be evil is pretty much synonymous with don't be religious.

Re:whenever someone invokes god(s) (4, Insightful)

sideslash (1865434) | about 2 years ago | (#40958005)

Maybe you really believe that and aren't just trolling. But if you take the wanton destruction left in the wake of Stalin and Mao (hint: some of the strongest modern nation-wide waves of atheistic popular movements combined with persecuting and murdering untold millions of people), you find an apt counterexample to your generalization. The attribute of religiosity is orthogonal to evil. You find religious people who are some of the most humanitarian and wonderful people on earth, and you find religious people whose consciences allegedly require them to persecute other people. And you find both of the same kinds of people among atheists -- some wonderful and some evil.

Re:whenever someone invokes god(s) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40962261)

Atheism is a religious belief in the non-existence of god, every bit as fundamentalist as other religions. Please don't get it confused with agnosticism.

Re:whenever someone invokes god(s) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40963299)

I would argue that Communism _IS_ a religion, with beliefs about a future ideal state , with "saints" (Marx, Lenin) and a higher purpose -"history" in place of God.

From the article (3, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#40957813)

From the article:

So what somebody says, why don’t you tell me which patents you have, Nathan, so I can avoid them, you’re supposed to be avoiding all of them! You’re saying, Nathan, I’d like to be honest with you but cheat everybody else. What’s up with that?

That's an interesting twist.

Of course it's my responsibility as a developer to avoid all of them. Specifically, all 8 million+ of them. What I can do, then, is start researching my idea now... and many lifetimes from now when my descendents have evaluated every patent that may be relevant, they can bring my product to market. Oh, wait - the number of patents will have grown by then...

Considering how smart he is, I find it difficult to believe that he made such an absurd statement -- and even more preposterous that he thinks it's a reasonable, realistic expectation.

Re:From the article (1)

rhizome (115711) | about 2 years ago | (#40960949)

I find it difficult to believe that he made such an absurd statement -- and even more preposterous that he thinks it's a reasonable, realistic expectation.

Nathan Myrhvold is a sophist.

Organizing for good (3, Interesting)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#40957903)

Putting aside the question of what is or isn't God's work, I think it would be more effective to establish and fund a nonprofit foundation to develop technology for solving the problems of the world's poor (and problems that potentially affect everybody like climate change and antibiotic resistance).

Running a little bit of charity work out of a for-profit corporation creates a conflict of interest between the need to generate profit for the owners/shareholders and the needs of those who are served. And if you can work full-time on the pro-bono technology, you'll get it done faster and better than if you are diverting time from your "real job."

Re:Organizing for good (1)

Relayman (1068986) | about 2 years ago | (#40962465)

I read more than that into the article. I think Nathan is trying to patent technology that can be used in Africa and then get someone to make the products so that he can get nice licensing fees. It's really about making money off of patents, something Nathan already does in a different way in the U.S.

It's not a bank account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40957939)

Anyone who reads the Bible would understand that good works aren't the path to salvation. It's nothing if you don't have "charity" sometimes translated as "love". They then go on to describe what charity is. Sorrry I can't quote it chapter and verse but if you've attended enough Christian weddings you've heard it.

IMHO, you can't go out and oppress people then turn around, "do good", and come before God with a clean balance sheet. That said, if tormenting a bunch of geeks who can afford to be tormented and then transferring the resulting booty to aid programs helps people then fine. Call it a private wealth redistribution scheme, a corporate tax, etc. Call it whatever you like, it might even do some good; but it doesn't comport with what I was taught about Christian charity.

Re:It's not a bank account (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about 2 years ago | (#40958061)

Nobody likes a poor thief.

Re:It's not a bank account (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#40959269)

Anyone, of course, except the Catholics. One of the chief doctrinal divides between Catholics and Protestants is the nature of salvation. Catholic theology very much insists that works are a part of salvation.

Re:It's not a bank account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40959667)

Well, that makes sense since the Catholics generally tend to discourage people from reading the Bible. The printing press was the Internet of its day and low and behold, when people started reading for themselves... whoah, Nellie! Protestantism was born. Then they persisted with the Latin mass until just recenly. Anno dingo corpus hackus splatus. Bless you!

Re:It's not a bank account (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#40959861)

Read James chapter 2. Rome didn't invent their theology just for fun, an even Martin Luther could never adequately explain away James.

But hey, keep repeating long defunct anti-Catgolic nonsense.

14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

19Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

24Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Re:It's not a bank account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40960319)

Easy. Cause and effect. It's not just anti-Catholic bigotry. If they place cause ahead of effect, they're incorrect. It's like saying I'm a cowboy because I wear the hat.

Re:It's not a bank account (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40961069)

Try just reading the red text sometime. Nothing that Jesus ever said directly supports James 2.

"Works Righteousness" is asinine logic, because you can't answer this simple question with it: "what quantity of good works must I do to be saved?" Remember, faith is intended for everyone, even the children and simpletons. If you can't come up with something that even the stupidest person can understand, it's unlikely to be what God intended.

How distracting (2)

mattr (78516) | about 2 years ago | (#40958273)

This is the guy who dreamed of charging for all Internet based transactions with his own money scheme.
When he starts saying the word God several times in a row I start getting violently nauseated.
I also question his statement, "We’re going to have to find who’s the best company in China to manufacture our malaria diagnostic device" while "using first world invention, product development, and business development techniques."
I state this having helped projects to reduce malaria and treat the sick in Cambodia. When $5 would buy mosquito nets. Does he really need to develop advanced technology, or could the money not be spent on existing projects using low technology? The key really is not Chinese manufacturing. The key which he hinted at is having motivated, experienced problem solvers on the ground who can see what things will work and why, and get immediate feedback and support from home base.
The idea of structuring it as a for profit venture, no matter what reasoning he gives, is just the way a shark smiles. It distracts you. Just like how he is pushing the God button. You have to wonder why. Is he a wacko? Maybe, but it is most likely because that is where he plans on getting money. Religious figures do sometimes put money into these things.

colours (2)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#40958359)

Darth Vader doing some charity work as he completes the Death Star

Which is not unthinkable. Humans are complex creatures, very few of us are entirely black or white. The main damage that religion has done to us is not the omnipotent father nonsense, but the strict seperation of the world into "good" and "bad". Which you don't find in the real world if you open your mind and really see. Even your worst enemy has some interest or some trait that you'd consider positive if it weren't for your dislike of the man. And even your best friend and ally has a skeleton in the closet.

So, aside from the nonsensical choice of words (there can be no such thing as "god's work", because an omnipotent being could get its own work done with no effort), why not simply take the guy at face value?

Because, you know, he's kind of right about Zynga and Facebook, too. Yeah, maybe he's an evil business bastard, but if he genuinely wants to do good - shouldn't we encourage and welcome that?

Re:colours (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 2 years ago | (#40958591)

Is that cognitive dissonance I smell?

Humans are complex and most of use are not psychopaths. So the only way he can live with himself for being a truly rotten person whose purpose is to crush dreams of innovators and start-ups with extortion!

So he lies to himself so he can get up every morning and he tells himself for the greater good and then goes on even boosts his ego about how generous he is! Incredible!

What he doesn't see or chooses not too is that businesses and innovators help the world as much if not more than Bill Gates Foundation, feed the homeless, or any other noble organization. They create jobs, pay taxes, give products to people, use other companies that do the same etc.

Extortion just takes away and creates artificial barriers. WIthout work and innovators trying to get rich we would all be very poor and live in 3rd world conditions. This is economics 101 folks

Re:colours (1)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#40958971)

Is that cognitive dissonance I smell?

Probably. It drips strongly out of TFS.

So he lies to himself so he can get up every morning

Every single one of us does. Oh, granted, some of us have more and heavier lies to say than others, but every serial killer, every mafia goon, every investment banker, Wall Street trader, drug dealer, kiddie-fucking catholic priest, every single one thinks of himself as a good person. Maybe flawed, maybe unhappy, maybe even deeply troubled, but in their hearts they all think they are good people.

I'd rather have one screwed-up asshole who gives back some of his ill-gained wealth than ten who clear their conscious through prayer or just by telling themselves they're good people.

Re:colours (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about 2 years ago | (#40959945)

I'd rather have one screwed-up asshole who gives back some of his ill-gained wealth than ten who clear their conscious through prayer or just by telling themselves they're good people.

The problem with this is that his donations and charity make him much more difficult to stop and put him beyond moral controls which would apply to others. Look at how Bill Gates uses charity to force schools to use Windows and gets seen as a philanthropist where his actions, otherwise, would be seen as illegally forcing forward a monopoly.

Re:colours (1)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#40962675)

Good point. There is a difference between giving and moving your exploitive business into the charity sector.

I never trust an "about face". The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation per se sounds like a good idea. That it is de facto run by the same guy we all hate for his business methods should ring some alarm bells. Stripes on a tiger don't wash away. And we're seing it. Not everyone wants to believe it, but the Gates Foundation does plenty of bad mixed in with its good.

The trouble with ad-based computing (1)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#40958377)

The technology industry is a little too obsessed with 'sending little messages to each other and having fun on a social network'

Regardless of who said it, that's a good point. Computing has become a branch of the advertising industry. As computing has become cheaper, the applications have become more banal.

This is a real problem for society. Advertising mostly moves demand around. With most people in the US spending all their disposable income, it doesn't create new demand. What it does do is drive up product prices. There are many products, from movies to prescription drugs, where the marketing cost exceeds the manufacturing cost.

Can we still afford this?

Re:The trouble with ad-based computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40959329)

Define we, define afford. Your question is vastly too open ended to have a general answer.
For a specific answer: The people at the top can very well afford it, at least in the short term. It has even been making them richer.

Nathan Myhrvold, wanna do good? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40958963)

So go ahead a join the Open Invention Network [swpat.org] .

Put your money where your mouth is.

Executive summary on his trolling justifications (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 2 years ago | (#40959463)

Here's an executive summary:
1. Obama signed a law last year that "reformed" patents so that means the US government fixed any problems.
2. Patents actually weren't broken anyway. (kind of conflicts with #1)
3. Patents are superb for the biotech industry. (Comparing apples to oranges here)
4. We're just helping the little guy mostly.
5. Lots of people make money in the IT industry so it's not broken.
6. We're the only thing stopping pure outright thievery of IT patents.

Maybe he has some limited conscience left (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40959785)

Maybe he has decided to do some charity work, because he feels such shame at the slimy and foul way that he has been extorting a profit from real innovators.
Or perhaps he believes that some god might inflict some delusional firey religious punishment, for his mafia like business practices.
Personally, I consider the whole 'charity' thing to be dubious, given his remarks about it being arranged as a 'for profit' venture.
Any way, a few good deeds are not going to change the opinion of anyone, given the far reaching implications for all of society, of his mafia business practices.
The world with be better a much better place without shady mafioso characters like this man. I find it extremely worrying that that there is any mention of a 'god'. Any of the gods of recent religion, would certainly crack down hard on a Patent Huckster like Myhrvold. In fact most of the gods of relgious delusion, are thoroughly unpleasant characters, that so far seem to have done nothing about parasites like 'intellectual ventures'. If there were any good presiding over Myhrvold, he would definetly be near the front of the queue for a bolt of lightning to the head, to fry some sense into him, and to instill some grasp of the basic principals of human decency.

Who? (1)

BobandMax (95054) | about 2 years ago | (#40960001)

Who is this "God" to whom he refers? Baal? Zeus? Jehovah? Sorry. Just too many to track.

Do Gooder Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40960927)

LOL

The path to Hell is paved by Good Intentions like those of Adolf Hitler.

God's work? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#40961617)

Yeah, I think we have more than enough people doing God's work. Dan Cathy and Pat Robertson are doing a fine job there.

Parable of the Camel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40961695)

"It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24).

And for good measure; For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

'God's work'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40963039)

Rich, philanthropic assholes tend not to make the world any better.

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