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!

Internet.org: Altruistic, Or the Ultimate In Cynicism?

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,27 days | from the something-like-that dept.

Facebook 174

Nerval's Lobster writes with one take on an effort to "make Internet access available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected": "In conjunction with a variety of partners (including Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung), Facebook is launching Internet.org, which will try to make Internet access more affordable to more people. The partnership will also work on ways to lower the amount of data necessary to power most apps and Internet experiences, which could help people in areas with poor connectivity access online services, and devise incentives for businesses and manufacturers to offer customers more affordable access. Why would Facebook and its partners want to connect another 5 billion people to the Internet? Sure, there are altruistic reasons — people online can access information that will improve or even save their lives. But for Facebook, more people online equals more ad revenue, which equals more profit. Social networking in the developed world is reaching a saturation point, with a significant percentage of the population already on one (or more) social networks; only by expanding into developing nations can Facebook and its ilk maintain the growth rates that Wall Street demands. In a similar vein, building devices and services accessible via weaker Internet connections would open up a whole new customer base for the app developers and manufacturers of the world. In theory, Internet.org plans on enlisting a variety of nonprofits and 'experts' to help in its effort; but the initial announcement only lists for-profit companies among its constituency. NGOs, academics and the aforementioned experts will apparently arrive 'over time.' So is this effort really charitable, or a cynical attempt to break into new markets?"

cancel ×

174 comments

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

For once Bill Gates is right (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630465)

As much as I hate to admit it, for once Bill Gates is right. People who lack enough decent food or sanitation, and suffer from chronic diseases and lack of even the most rudimentary health care, have things they need more than the Internet.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630521)

The difference is the motivation to provide 'aid'. Gates want to help people stay alive and facebook wants more users.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

Dan93 (222999) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630603)

Your probably right, though I can't see how it would help Facebook. They don't actually get more money, since these people wouldn't be the target of any advertisements.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630799)

Advertisers often will pay big bucks to get into emerging markets. Companies will sometimes take a decade of loss in order to ingrain themselves with some new population, or even better make that population dependent on their product while it is still cheap/free (example: free baby formula)

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (2, Informative)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630803)

Because they will be worth more than you think.

The least develop countries are growing really fast and they are on the cusp of a breakout. Sadly, they have been in this position 2, 3 times during the 20th century and have failed, but maybe this time is different. On top of that a lot of their population is immigrating to the first world, repatriating money back. If these people join, the sticky network effect comes into play.

And for all the cynicism out there, corporations just don’t look to next quarter’s results. Most have long term plans where the report progress on a quarterly basis.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1, Flamebait)

davydagger (2566757) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630635)

no gates wants people to stay dependant on bill gates and his charity.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631171)

Why was this modded flamebait? It's an opinion. Whether I or any mods agree w/ it is irrelevant.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

nhat11 (1608159) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631365)

If I had points I would too but it's simply flamebait. There's opinions but there's horrible opinions not backed up by anything except their bias and hatred.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631629)

Why was this modded flamebait? It's an opinion.

Because it is demonstrably false, and only posted to elicit a reaction. Thus it is flamebait.

BG's charity is NOT set up to produce dependency. He is not giving away food, he is trying to cure diseases, improve literacy, etc. If polio or malaria is eradicated, it is gone, and there is no ongoing dependency. Improved literacy makes people less dependent on charity. Etc.

The dependency cycle is a big problem with government-to-government aid (mostly food handouts and military aid). It is rarely a problem with the type of bottom-up aid that BG is doing.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (4, Interesting)

1s44c (552956) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631223)

no gates wants people to stay dependant on bill gates and his charity.

No. Bill Gates is trying to buy a name as a good guy. He wants to be remembered for doing good, not for shady but successful business practices.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631417)

The difference is the motivation to provide 'aid'. Gates want to help people stay alive and facebook wants more users.

If people's lives are improved, the motivation doesn't matter. If anything, selfish motivations are better because they are more scalable and sustainable.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630561)

As much as I hate to admit it, for once Bill Gates is right. People who lack enough decent food or sanitation, and suffer from chronic diseases and lack of even the most rudimentary health care, have things they need more than the Internet.

Except those basics are often unavailable because of a lack of good government, and good government almost never happens without an informed population.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630947)

You could correct that with plain old newspapers and one room schoolhouses, however. You don't need the Internet to generate a population that understands the need for good government. Indeed, you need to mainly be literate already in order to get much out of the Internet to begin with.

I'm not suggesting that they stop with what they are doing, but many times these programs spend a lot of money on something, but the maintenance costs are high, or the locals don't have the skills to maintain it themselves. The equipment is also high value stuff that corrupt officials and criminals will want to get their hands on.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631865)

You could correct that with plain old newspapers and one room schoolhouses

Except that the newspapers are censored and the schoolhouses are run by the government.

You don't need the Internet to generate a population that understands the need for good government.

You don't need the internet to understand the need, but you do need people-to-people communication to make it happen. Cellphones have had an enormous effect in Africa, both economically and politically. They allow common people to bypass government controlled cartels, banks, and media. They also allow citizens to hang around polling places and immediately upload photos of anyone intimidating voters or tampering with the ballot boxes. Nothing in history has done more to ensure clean elections than that little blinking LED on a cellphone.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

msauve (701917) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631457)

If food, sanitation, and health care are unavailable because of a lack of good government, what makes you think Internet access would be any different (especially since, as you imply, it would be used to undermine the existing government)?

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (2)

jones_supa (887896) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630587)

As much as I hate to admit it, for once Bill Gates is right. People who lack enough decent food or sanitation, and suffer from chronic diseases and lack of even the most rudimentary health care, have things they need more than the Internet.

They can both exist. Bill Gates can push the bare essentials and, Facebook and Google will try to get the folk connected.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (2)

jythie (914043) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630931)

Yeah, people tend to forget that this is not a zero sum game, and multiple problems can be worked on at once.

I also suspect that in the first world we find it easier to relate to 'no food' then to 'no communication', so many people latch onto that problem. We have all been hungry off and on, we have all been sick off and on, and we can picture more extreme versions. However mass communication is so utterly embedded in our culture that we do not even think about it, and we pretty much never exist without it being at least one or two degrees away. We take it for granted that knowledge and news will reach us, and that if we want to find something it is pretty much at our fingertips... we can look it up online, we can go to a library, we can ask someone else in our community, it does not even occur to us (for most things we want to know) that there will be no way to find out by virtue of no local person or institution being connected either.

While it is a bit more abstract, lack of access to information is also a huge problem in the 3rd world and figuring out how to propagate medical (and other) data to disconnected populations is as difficult too. Starving kills, sickness kills, but so does ignorance. Just think about how many problems in an average life go through a 'something seemed wrong, so I asked someone and they showed me how to not make it more serious' stage, and how many ailments and situations get worse if you do not know how to handle them.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631433)

We have all been hungry off and on, we have all been sick off and on, and we can picture more extreme versions.

No, I don't think we really picture more extreme versions. I've never gone more than a day without eating, have you? Hungry is a long way from starving, or being chronically malnourished, or worrying that you will go hungry if the next harvest fails. Unless you have cancer, sick probably means a bad flu. You'll get better. Untreated malaria or hookworm are different - they're chronically debilitating diseases that often start young and return periodically. They often keep people from working, so they can't plant or harvest crops, or hold a regular job.

Starving kills, sickness kills, but so does ignorance.

Often the problem isn't disseminating information, but getting people to believe it and use it. I read a good article a while back (sorry, I've lost the link) about teaching African farmers (in Zambia?) better techniques, like crop rotation, and planting crops other than corn, so they'll get balanced nutrition. It can take years to get people who are living harvest to harvest to believe that they'll be better off leaving some fields fallow for a season. The local farmer's conservatism is understandable when a bad harvest may mean starvation, and not just a temporary loss of income. One way that seems to work is to get one farmer to try it, and when his neighbors see he's doing well, they'll try it too.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

jythie (914043) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631593)

Actually, I have gone for more then a day without eating, but you make a good point. Though even if we can not accurately picture more extreme versions, we generally _think_ we can. From a few thousand miles away and through the lens of public policy, fundraising, or forum rants, that is close enough.

And agreed, getting people to believe and use it is also one of the problems in the chain of bork, and should not be underestimated.

Plenty of problems to go around ^_^

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

nhat11 (1608159) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631371)

You can't have it all sometimes, ESPECIALLY with limited resources.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630649)

If they're connected, they can tweet pictures of the conditions. Might have an impact...

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (0)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630833)

And we can tweet back pictures of food, cars, hot tubs, bars, our dogs eating steak, and funny pictures of morbidly obese people stuffing even more food into their pie-holes.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (0)

davydagger (2566757) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630657)

No, bill gates is denying people the things which people would use to build a society that would manufacture these products for themselves.

Bill Gate's idea of charity ends when it might result in someone else being self-suffiecient.

As with most rich white liberals, the idea of aid goes out the window, when it costs more than $1 a day to make a diffrence. His "aid" is done merely to snub the rest of the less-fortunate world, and give him the platform to do so.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (2)

tnk1 (899206) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631083)

Perhaps that is the overall effect of what his strategy is, but I would have a hard time believing that it is his goal to give away billions of dollars just to feel superior to third world countries. He could already do that AND hold on to billions of dollars.

Generally with the people like Gates, the more realistic charge is they are trying to buy their way into heaven or posterity.

In any case, I do think that Gates is actually trying to do his best, but Gates is/was a businessman. He works his deals with the people he knows, and those guys are still wanting to make their billions. So, he gets his deals, and they insert their little conditions and situations that come with the aid. I think it would be fair to scrutinize those deals in relation to what he is trying to achieve, but I would stop far short of assuming he's just trying to be colossally smug.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631207)

Can you give some specifics of that? Otherwise, quite frankly, it's more like a rant than an argument.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630989)

Very sound reasoning, although internet may occasionally be helpful as a tool to fight corruption that has kept them in the mess in the first place. Although they probably won't take efforts to bring it to them lying down.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (2)

1s44c (552956) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631193)

As much as I hate to admit it, for once Bill Gates is right. People who lack enough decent food or sanitation, and suffer from chronic diseases and lack of even the most rudimentary health care, have things they need more than the Internet.

Where do you start to improve things? All the aid given to Africa has achieved alarmingly little. If these people have access to information they are much more capable of improving their situation long term than if they had a bag of rice instead.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631321)

No he isn't. As an economist in one African country said: the mobile phone companies have had a bigger positive impact on the economy and well-being of the people than any governmental or NGO-led programme. Mobile phones are not the same thing as Internet, I know, but in the end they both offer what those people need: information and a means of communicating. This has helped them with things like emergency response, information and education (for example: on basic sanitation and issues around drinking water), but it also helps them to get better prices for their produce, arrange payment and transportation for goods sold and received, thus freeing up time for other things. It can calso help them find and procure services essential to the community (like getting a water pump, generator or farming tools fixed). Communication makes all of these activities easier (or possible), and enables people to help themselves better as well.

Gates might be right if we were talking about fly-ridden hunger victims scrabbling in the dirt for a few bits to eat, but you may be surprised to learn that many, many poor people do not live like that.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631501)

Can you cite any information or articles about that? Seriously, I have an open mind on this issue.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631657)

A quick search will turn up various articles. Here's one [cigilibrary.org] , citing other interesting reading material.

Re:For once Bill Gates is right (1)

bmo (77928) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631477)

It's not an either/or proposition, bunky.

--
BMO

Everyone must join the surveilance network! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630481)

Yours,
The NSA.

Re:Everyone must join the surveilance network! (2)

gapagos (1264716) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631295)

In Capitalist America, the NSA joins YOU.

Evil Corporations! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630487)

It's a common fallacy that anything a corporation does that is profitable is necessarily evil. Corporations have no sense of ethics - their actions can have good or bad results, but they don't act with the intention of being good or evil.

If Facebook starts providing free Internet access to Bumblefuck Nowhere and makes ad profit, but the Internet access is unrestricted and can be used for anything, that's a win-win situation.

Re:Evil Corporations! (1, Insightful)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630621)

Mod parent up, and to quote the summary:

So is this effort really charitable, or a cynical attempt to break into new markets?

Why can’t it be both? If the past 50 years have taught us anything, it is that Adam Smith’s invisible hand of bottom up price signals are far better than a altruistic top down approach. (And if somebody accuse me of being a evil Liberation I will point out that is a different argument – different level and types of regulations will affect the market and price signals and the society you get. As the OP said, if the internet provided is free and unrestricted why does it matter? And yes, I am with a small l. I am too pragmatic to be an ideology.)

Re:Evil Corporations! (1)

jythie (914043) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630961)

Well, actually what we have learned over the last 50 years is you have to balance top down and bottom up, and either of them being too dominant fails. They both have their place and work best when the other is also in play.

Re:Evil Corporations! (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630783)

Partly right. Corporations have no sense of ethics, but they are selfish. On the other hand, that doesn't mean that they can't act beneficial (the whole market theory revolves around egoistic entities finding the price points where everyone benefits the most)

So charitable actions are not evil, but usually geared towards raising profits as a side effect (as facebook here or MS getting kindergarden kids hooked on MS Office) or geared to increase the organisations reputation.

And in a wider sense, even the most altruistic actions can be seen as egoistic, as even christian charity has the "personal advantage" of not going to hell. For buddists, it builds one of the solid pillars for your life, and even atheists will profit from peace of mind after a donation.

Re:Evil Corporations! (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631575)

It's a common fallacy that anything a corporation does that is profitable is necessarily evil.

You're attacking a straw man. Nobody said this was evil, or that it would be harmful to the worlds poor. At most they said it won't help the poor, and the claim that it will is a misleading way to describe market expansion.

Re:Evil Corporations! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44631781)

I'm a bit confused by this statement. Maybe you can shed some light on it for me.

Since corporations (in the United States) are legally an individual/person [wikipedia.org] , and individual citizens can absolutely be held responsible for unethical acts (especially when their actions affect large numbers of other citizens in bulk), should a corporation therefore not act with positive/good intentions for the benefit of everyone (much like an individual should)?

If your answer is no, then I'll rephrase: since corporations are given their legal rights on the basis that "they are a group/collection of human beings", and since human beings do have a sense of ethics, I'm wondering how it is you can say "corporations have no sense of ethics"?

In my view, corporations absolutely have a sense of ethics -- because corporations consist of a group of individuals who each sport ethical and moral values -- but it's more that the individuals who hold key/critical roles within those corporations (usually CxO individuals and stockholders) choose to put their ethics and moral values aside for one thing and that alone: money. And regardless if you think money is good or evil, that's still a choice that's being made by the individuals who are responsible for the corporation's existence and operation.

Regardless of your answer/insights, it's food for thought.

Really? Ad revenue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630489)

Sure... the next market boom is going to come from the "has to have things given to them for free" demographic segment. Facebook is going to be all over that!

How about we actually think of a good anti-business slander before we publish articles... It's like you guys aren't even trying anymore...

Then Wall Street is fucked ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630491)

only by expanding into developing nations can Facebook and its ilk maintain the growth rates that Wall Street demands

I'm sorry, but if what Wall Street demands is steady, linear growth then our entire economic system is a big giant fucking ponzi scheme and is destined to fail.

Capitalism is so broken as to defy common sense. It's not possible to have these kinds of gains sustained indefinitely.

Sorry guys, but your money system is a fucking joke -- even more so since greedy asshole Americans managed to offload their junk debt onto the rest of the world.

What Wall Street wants isn't good for the rest of the world.

Re:Then Wall Street is fucked ... (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630689)

[Lots of Citations Needed]

Re:Then Wall Street is fucked ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44631209)

Sure. Don't think about it. Perpetual Growth in a closed system (like say a planet) is impossible.

It doesn't need a citation. It is self evident.

Re:Then Wall Street is fucked ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44631523)

Sure. Don't think about it. Perpetual Growth in a closed system (like say a planet) is impossible

The Earth is not a closed system. There's a giant fusion reactor 93,000,000 miles away that will provide a continuous energy input for another billion years, which is more than long enough for its lifeforms to find other sources of metals and hydrogen. (A thousand years from now, someone will say the same thing perpetual growth in the solar system being impossible, and they'll be a little more close to correct: in terms of energy and resources, a star system is effectively a closed system. Interstellar migration is a much more difficult problem.)

Re:Then Wall Street is fucked ... (1)

jythie (914043) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630985)

Keep in mind our population experiences steady linear growth, so expecting the economy to keep pace with that is not unreasonable nor a ponzi scheme. When your resources are increasing it is healthy for your economy to increase too.

Re:Then Wall Street is fucked ... (1)

some old guy (674482) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631559)

I have no study to justify my theory, but I wouldn't be at all shocked if population-based economic growth rates in the third world are a number of percentage points behind what the typical equity analyst expects in a corporate earnings forecast.

Re:Then Wall Street is fucked ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44632031)

Capitalism is so broken as to defy common sense

Humanity is so broken as to defy common sense. Chose capitalism as the proxy for that at not only your own peril; but ours as well if that idea continues to gain traction.

The idea that we need perpetual growth has nothing to do with capitalism. AFAIK, it's just a meme that spread through business schools in the last few decades, and is obviously a fallacy to anybody who ever watched that grade school educational film where they had a jar full of fruit flies. I guess a requirement for an MBA is to forget simple things like that.

I know you're probably just a troll; but there are poorly educated kids marching in the streets these days. They'll listen to some charismatic leader spouting some polished version of what you just said, and that concerns me greatly. We've seen what happens when capitalism is identified as the problem and thrown out wholesale, rather than addressing evils ad-hoc. It isn't pretty. To re-iterate, you've misidentified the root of evil. It's US, not our system. Attempts to strike at the root of evil, though noble, end in failure.

If capitalism isn't the root, and it's our moral failings then that leads people towards a religious solution. We don't want that either. I'm drawn towards the counter-intuitive idea that it's better to prune the tree of evil than cut it off at the root; because the tree of evil is tangled with the vine of good, and we're too blind to know the difference.

The real question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630499)

to whom and for how much did Facebook pay for Internet.org?

Re:The real question is (1)

jones_supa (887896) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630721)

It's interesting to watch the timeline in Internet Archive [archive.org] . The website has hosted various content over years. The latest snapshots seem to show some kind of tongue-in-the-cheek website with pictures of scenery in Europe where "internet" is being carried by boats and cable cars (the cables are lubricated using pork fat).

Facebook is the NSA's wet dream. (4, Interesting)

gapagos (1264716) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630503)

Facebook has always been the NSA's wet dream. Of course they'd love to have the entire planet hooked on it. Third world countries with no Internet access are insignificant to online-based advertising since they most likely have no disposable income or access to good distribution channels to buy the advertised products & services. On the other hand, these people live where intelligence gathering is more challenging and more valuable. So I'm convinced it's actually more about security interests, not commercial ones.

Re:Facebook is the NSA's wet dream. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44631197)

It is, it really is. If you ever have filled out forms for a security clearance you'd realize the information you have to provide, particularly about family and relationships, is pretty daunting. With Facebook, the average joe has already filled that all out without even knowing it.

Re:Facebook is the NSA's wet dream. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44631829)

I think the government made Facebook in an attempt to make privacy uncool. Think about that. I think that's true 'cause they don't have to tap our phones or survey us when we just yield to them everything, just on our own free will. Home address? It's a little weird, OK. Phone number? Call me. Photos? Photos of everyone I know? Here, let me tag those for you.

~Pete Holmes

Necessary Amendments (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630509)

1. Term limits, including for justices.
2. Repealing Amendment 17 and returning the election of senators to state legislatures
3. A congressional supermajority to override Supreme Court decisions (overruling what could be a stacked court)
4. Spending limit based on GDP
5. Taxation capped at 15%
6. Limiting the commerce clause, and strengthening private property rights
7. Power of states to override a federal statute by a three-fifths vote.

Loooool (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630525)

No one should have to choose between access to the internet and food or medicine.

It's hardly a choice, what braindead moron chooses food? Medicine? Psh, that stuff is useless.

For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630553)

The magic of capitalism is that it doesn't have to be to work.

It's like asking: "Does a company bringing cell phone service to an area that's never had it help people or increase profits?" The answer is: it does both.

Capitalism is not a zero-sum game.

Re:For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630853)

Of course Capitalism is a zero-sum game, if it looks like it isn't you just haven't accounted for everything and externalised some costs somewhere in the system.

Re:For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44631061)

No, it is not. If I have something which is not valuable to me, but valuable to you, and you have something that is valuable to me, but not to you, and you sell your thing to me, and I sell my thing to you for the same money, then we have both made a win. Well, unless the sales tax is too high, then we've both made a loss. ;-)

Re:For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (1)

AlecC (512609) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631087)

Can you justify this? Do you feel that capital structures like railways and roads add nothing to the value of production? Would the world be just as productive if all the capital goods - houses, road, cars, factories, the internet - were destroyed?

Re:For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631421)

At it's most basic, Capitalism is simply one method for allocating goods and services. In effect raw materials and the work needed to changes those raw materials into something else.

Since both raw materials and work are finite how can Capitalism be anything other than a zero sum?

At best you can limit the frame of reference to trades inside a certain economic area or time frame or both, but then you are just externalising the raw materials coming from outside the area or outside of the timeframe (by removing a future person the opportunatity to make use of that raw material).

Re:For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631695)

Since both raw materials and work are finite how can Capitalism be anything other than a zero sum?

That's true if you assume that technology and methods of organization can't be improved. Somehow though, with the same availability of raw materials (actually far less per capita) and the same amount of potential work per capita, we have a higher standard of living than they did in the Stone Age, or for that matter the first half of the 20th century.

Re:For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631737)

P.S. Although I doubt you intended to, you're using the same assumptions that economists use when advocating comparative advantage and the wonders of free trade.

Re:For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44631181)

No, it's not a zero sum game . As an example - let's say I write an awesome new piece of software, and then sell service contracts on the market to support people using that software, and let's say I get filthy rich because it's the best software ever.

Who has lost anything - Me? Certainly not, I've prospered as a result of creating a new piece of software that people value. My customers? Certainly not, they've received the benefit of the software that they value, for a reasonable price that they judged to be a reasonable exchange. Please identify my 'externalized' costs for me, I'm curious who you think I'm robbing when I create wealth.

Re:For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (1)

gapagos (1264716) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631259)

All the contract administrators who have been laid-off because a computer can do their job automatically now.

Re:For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631249)

Of course Capitalism is a zero-sum game, if it looks like it isn't you just haven't accounted for everything and externalised some costs somewhere in the system.

Capitalism is not a zero-sum game. Available resources may be zero-sum, but how they are allocated is not. If I have some food, but I'm bored rather than hungry, and you're hungry but have only a non-edible DVD, we both benefit from swapping the food and the movie. A different allocation of the same resources results in a net gain, with no externalized costs.

Capitalism is all about allocating resources to where they can do the most good through a mass of individual trades, each of which is expected—by those directly involved, who have the most at stake—to result in a net benefit without externalities.

Re:For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44631601)

Your example describes something known as barter which has, for the purpose of zero-sum game discussion, nothing to do with capitalism.

Re:For-profit doesn't need altruism to do good (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631909)

Of course Capitalism is a zero-sum game, if it looks like it isn't you just haven't accounted for everything and externalised some costs somewhere in the system.

I'm no expert in economics or zero-sum games, but doesn't the fact that money can be spent more than once support that it is not necessarily zero-sum game?

Effects of Globalization (3, Funny)

stewsters (1406737) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630557)

If you teach a kid to fish, he can eat cholera infested fish for the day. If you teach a kid to program, he can get himself a sub-minimum wage outsourced job from the other side of the world and still make more than his entire village.

Re:Effects of Globalization (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630939)

Then he can buy the infested fish for the day.

Problem solved?

Re:Effects of Globalization (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631793)

You get cholera from a contaminated water supply. You can get some nasty parasites and toxins from fish though. It's best to drink clean water and avoid fish with two heads.

Less data? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630573)

The partnership will also work on ways to lower the amount of data necessary to power most apps and Internet experiences

Really? So no more jQuery, no more Javascript libraries of which only 5% of the functions are used? No more 100KB+ JPEG photos and no more bloated HTML code?

Call me cynical but these days it's almost a miracle to find a web page which totals less than 100KB.

Re:Less data? (1)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630617)

It's finally the year of WAP [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Less data? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630701)

Most pictures don't even fit in 100kB.

Re:Less data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630859)

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

Re:Less data? (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630921)

And people want to know why I roll my own functions.

(Technically I do it because I'm learning a little bit at a time and want to understand how things work. Probably a hold over from Word vs Word Perfect or the 'Frontpage' days where a WP document had 'Reveal Codes' and I could make sure I didn't have 10 font changes that happened before the final font change. Before I was on computers, I used a typesetting machine where there wasn't a WYSIWYG interface; it was _all_ codes. So keeping the document clean was important. Leading back to trying to keep my html clean and neat and compliant (view source in firefox and resolve red text). Like well formatted source code, well formatted and common layouts makes it easier to maintain.)

[John]

Re:Less data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44631277)

Only if you refuse to use modern tools which handle that stuff transparently for you. Astyle, tidy, etc. all exist to handle the boring and well-understood problems of "prettying" your code and scanning for static errors.

What's more valuable - 50k of disk space to hold that "inefficient" and "badly laid out" code? Or the hours of your time you'll spend fixing that, when tools already exist to solve the problem for you automatically?

Likewise, "rolling your own functions" is a great way to poorly re-implement existing sets of code, duplicating their bugs, while adding nothing new or worthwhile to the process. Refusing to use standard APIs just makes your software harder to integrate with and support, which means, ultimately, your software will be supplanted by software written by someone who *does* know how to do these things.

They could do so much with it.... (2)

Drewdad (1738014) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630579)

Just think of the possibilities if these folks had access to vast areas of human knowledge, including engineering, medicine, philosophy, resource management... but they'd probably watch cat videos.

Re:They could do so much with it.... (1)

loufoque (1400831) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630713)

They already have access to that knowledge.

Re:They could do so much with it.... (1)

dywolf (2673597) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631745)

i was thinking "great...5 billion more people to make useless "youre teh ghey", "first", and other sundry troll postings"

It could be a good thing or a bad thing. (1)

davydagger (2566757) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630611)

I firmly believe that internet access is a human right, in many places sought out before running water. Its potential enable mass communication, and information sharing is unparallel.

The problems with mass internet in the last 5-7 years have been the efforts to restrict it. Blocking server traffic, locking down phone and tablet OSs, and strictly screening the software that one gets to use on a new computer platform. The attempt is to lock it into an infotainmaint platform strictly regulated by a handful of content producers, and keep people from producing their own messages, something that has the potential to be a game changer in social, economic, and political fields.(as the printing press has done).

It is essential for a free web, that with proflieration of the internet, and the bridge over the digital divide add two imporant measures:

1. Root Access. Everyone who "owns" or has exclusive use of a computer shall have root access, to mean administrator, and access over the entire operating system. There shall be nothing reserved that a manufacturer, technician, or operator to have more privledge than a machine owner. If computers are being held in common, everyone should have the right to root access on at least one general purpose computer.

2. Right to a general purpose computer/information system. For all intents and purposes, everyone has the right to a turring complete, general purpose computer access, with root access and internet capable. For this measure, no computer will be considered General Purpose, unless it is self-hosting, normally self hosted, and self-hosting development tools are reasonably available to the user.(Right to develop)

3. Net Neutrality will be observed. No port, nor content filtering will be done, peroid, and the right to run a server or client will be preserved across all links. No special treatment of any packets.

4. Speed. Herein year 2013, it is not unreasonable to set the minimum unit of speed at one unit of internet, 3 megabyte(long)/s in both dirrections. By 2030, this should be 30 MB/s

Re:It could be a good thing or a bad thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44631391)

in many places sought out before running water.

Only by idiot first-worlders with a death wish. You can live for decades without an internet connection; Three days to a week without water, and you're dead.

add two important measures

You offered four points - which two of the four are the important ones?

Be careful how you word them - there's a fine line between saying "no one shall restrict people from having x, y, z" and saying, "everyone shall have an X, Y, Z." That's the difference between affirming people's right to choose to own a gun, and mandating that the government issue every citizen a gun.

Also - no port or content filtering? I can't disable commonly attacked services on my system, or filter out content at my firewall? Really? Sounds like a hacker's paradise - "No locks shall be placed on doors at all. In fact, all doors shall be left wide open at all times."

It's funny too, you want to dictate minimum speeds, but say nothing about how these speeds are to be delivered. Hint: if you are demanding something from someone that you can't provide for yourself, you should probably consider the feasibility and cost of your demands.

Re:It could be a good thing or a bad thing. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631851)

in many places sought out before running water.

Only by idiot first-worlders with a death wish. You can live for decades without an internet connection; Three days to a week without water, and you're dead.

Give the guy a break. He probably meant that if they have no clean water, they should drink Starbucks instead.

Or both? (1)

bryanandaimee (2454338) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630613)

I'm not sure why we need to split the entire world into a series of false dichotomies. Couldn't they be altruistic and at the same time motivated by profit? What is the point of the constant adversarial split for every stupid little issue? Is Slashdot interested in news for nerds for the purpose of enlightening its user base or is it simply a money hungry capitalistic shill for the corporate powers that be?

Re:Or both? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631895)

Couldn't they be altruistic and at the same time motivated by profit?

By the definition of altruism, no. They could however be motivated by profit and have a beneficial effect. That's why most of us accept capitalism for most things. The important question here is not whether they're being altruistic, but what (if any) beneficial effect it will have.

Facebook, guidelines on how to lower bandwidth (2)

loufoque (1400831) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630663)

Surely that's a joke?
Facebook is the web application that consumes the most bandwidth, CPU power and RAM ever devised.

Can't it be two things? (1)

quietwalker (969769) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630671)

Look at the populations without internet access - they're also in the population of the world that actually has to worry about starving to death, about persistent government corruption, filled with often violent superstitions and beliefs, lack of access to either medical supplies or trained medical care, completely unaware of farming or grazing techniques that were in use in the 15'th century or living literally, on piles of garbage.

You're really going to worry that these folks will potentially be uplifted in order to sell them a coke? You think they would feel taken advantage of because they can now buy a coke?

Frankly, the way in which we have treated those in the underdeveloped countries should have been made criminal. We should have focused on education with the end goal of a self-sustaining culture. Instead of education, we've provided bibles. Instead of medical training, we've taught them that condoms are evil and vaccines are just tricks by white men to infect them with aids. Instead of expert guidance, GMO crops, fertilizer and pesticides, and machinery to cultivate crops, we've given them food packets. Instead of training them to be doctors, surgeons, nurses, mechanics, lawyers, programmers, architects, - anything really - we have made sure that their death rates go down - especially childbirth, that their average age increases, and we do it all with supplies and techniques that they cannot replicate, and provide them no salable or productive skills in the meanwhile.

What we have done is vastly inflated the problem - by themselves, a poor balance was established, but now we have a massive dependent population that lacks the skills and resources required to support themselves in a reasonable way. In effect, we have traded a few thousand lives for a few million and multiplied the net total suffering in the world.

Outside of fantastic natural resources (like oil, that'd help a lot!), the only realistic way to fix this problem is with abundant education, and right now, the easiest way to do that is via the internet. You don't even need real guidance. Sugata Mitra has shown that just plugging in a computer into a wall of a rural village results in children teaching themselves english and learning all on their own. [ted.com] , and it continued when he gave them internet access. [ted.com]

Henry Ford came up with the idea that by paying good wages and providing other benefits, his workers could become his customers. This idea is nothing new. It's impressive that with the myopic focus in the economy today on quarterly or less results, that anyone can assume that this is really capitalistic grab for customers 2 or 3 generations down the road - that's miles adrift in a sea of absurdity - but even if it is, so what? If that's a motivation that results in these people living longer, healthier, productive, HAPPIER lives, should it matter that someone down the line also wants to make a buck?

Before you think too much, realize that if you're reading this, YOU are probably already in that 'exploited' group, if that's what you want to envision it as.

Self-serving (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630705)

You think FWD.us was made to help the average joe get a STEM degree?

hypocrisy much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630757)

that's bloody rich. facebook- the ajax page that is CONSTANTLY loading and sucking up all your bandwidth with useless cat pics, ads, and features, trying to REDUCE bandwidth consumption! ha. whos next, youtube?

"improved" tracking test market (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | 1 year,27 days | (#44630759)

"The partnership will also work on ways to lower the amount of data necessary to power most apps and Internet experiences..."

IOW, they want a larger base of people who have fewer rights and who can't easily sue, upon which to experiment with more sophisticated tracking methods. Getting an identifying code from your phone shouldn't be too hard, after all - linking that to the facebook account logged into with the phone allows facebook to then link to what ever other sites you visit (again with your phone serial number). Notice the phone chip manufacturers on the list? Between Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung...what portion of the cell phone chip market is that? If the US gov would be interested in stopping a thing, they still couldn't - not when it's not happening here. But with the recent happenings here and in Europe, we know our "first world" governments are doing quite the opposite of such privacy and anti-tracking interests...

Smith, Adam: Wealth of Nations (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44630855)

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

Bogus conflict (1)

AlecC (512609) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631031)

Wherein is the conflict between the two? This is basic Adam Smith economics. Businesses make money by providing goods and services that people want. There is no altruism involved - all businessmen are in business to make a profit. But by making a profit in a fair and open market, where all have a chance to compete, they make the comfortable rich world we live in.

Yes, Facebook makes money from us. If we have access to the internet, we can choose to use Facebook, with its advantages and disadvantages, or leave it. If we don't have internet access, we don't have that choice.

Interesting contrast between FB/Google approaches (2)

daboochmeister (914039) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631049)

Interesting contrast between Facebook and Google here - Facebook wants to organize all these companies and NGOs (each of which will have an agenda), where Google says (with Project Loon, http://www.google.com/loon/ [google.com] ), let's just get them access and not try to overprescribe how it evolves or what they do with it - continuing with their "a rising tide lifts all boats", abundance mentality.

Why can't it be both? (1)

xerxesVII (707232) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631219)

"So is this effort really charitable, or a cynical attempt to break into new markets?"

Are the Salvation Army's thrift stores really charitable, or a cynical attempt to fund proselytizing of their particular version of Christianity?

Can't help but think of the logic of the USSR (1)

Opportunist (166417) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631221)

Produce TVs instead of fridges. Who cares if they can eat, as long as we can tell them what to think!

This is exactly how markets are supposed to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44631387)

This is exactly how markets are supposed to work. Somebody needs something and someone else wants to supply it. As for those of you who don't think these people need the Internet, you need to get over your idea that you get to decide. Those people are as capable of deciding for themselves what they need as you are to decide for yourself.

My grandparents didn't get electricity until my lifetime, and they never did have a phone at the farm in Ohio. All of their children and most of their grandchildren got university degrees. The thing those 5 billion people need is for you to get out of their way.

Good is good, for whatever reason. (2)

sabbede (2678435) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631467)

People can do good for reasons of pure self interest. The goodness of the act is not diminished by the motivation.

the question is HOW?? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631507)

would this be best done by a bunch of guys driving out and building a MESH or by flying a C-5 galaxy with a Mobile Com station (and a couple companies of "civilian contractors" to help guard the stuff) out to key locations??

I moved to the 3rd world recently... (1)

swframe (646356) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631611)

Providing cheaper internet access is helpful but there is a lot more to fixing the 3rd world that I don't really understand. The average person makes about $1/hr. I've reached out to a few people to see if I can teach them software QA. Everyone I've spoken to seems really excited about making 10+ times what they currently make. But so far no one I've approached has actually made an effort to learn and do the work. I am living here because I'm very curious to learn why it is so hard to convince someone who makes $1/hr to put in the effort to make $10+/hr. Especially when it requires them to work less than they currently do. The work week here is 6 days and 10hrs/day (only 8 hrs is paid, they get a 2 hour break). 25% of the worker's wages are typically spent getting to work. I get the impression that "thinking" is perceived to be harder than manual labor.

One ring to rule them all (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631665)

After he distributes the rings to nokia, qualcomm, samsung et al, he will keep the one that will make him invisible for the NSA.

Invoking Betteridge's law of headlines (1)

korbulon (2792438) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631763)

No.

Why leave out two partners? (1)

mapnjd (92353) | 1 year,27 days | (#44631965)

I realise that summaries, by definition, miss some information but why edit out two of the six partners? Mediatek has a market cap of c.$15bn and Ericsson $40bn. Not exactly small players in this space.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>