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Bill Gates: Internet Will Not Save the World

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the what-if-it's-a-fiber-connection? dept.

Microsoft 247

quantr points out an interview with Bill Gates in which he talks about setting priorities for making a difference in the world. Quoting: "The internet is not going to save the world, says the Microsoft co-founder, whatever Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley's tech billionaires believe. But eradicating disease just might. Bill Gates describes himself as a technocrat. But he does not believe that technology will save the world. Or, to be more precise, he does not believe it can solve a tangle of entrenched and interrelated problems that afflict humanity's most vulnerable: the spread of diseases in the developing world and the poverty, lack of opportunity and despair they engender. 'I certainly love the IT thing,' he says. 'But when we want to improve lives, you've got to deal with more basic things like child survival, child nutrition.' These days, it seems that every West Coast billionaire has a vision for how technology can make the world a better place. A central part of this new consensus is that the internet is an inevitable force for social and economic improvement; that connectivity is a social good in itself. It was a view that recently led Mark Zuckerberg to outline a plan for getting the world's unconnected 5 billion people online, an effort the Facebook boss called 'one of the greatest challenges of our generation.' But asked whether giving the planet an internet connection is more important than finding a vaccination for malaria, the co-founder of Microsoft and world's second-richest man does not hide his irritation: 'As a priority? It's a joke.'"

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True (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304565)

They guy is right.

Re:True (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304713)

They guy is right.

They grammar is wrong

Re:True (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304833)

Not to they black guys, they be speaking ebonics, so you best axe them before you say ignorant and intolerant things about the way they language be.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:True (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304995)

Not to they black guys, they be speaking ebonics, so you best axe them before you say ignant and intolerant thangs about the way they language be.

FTFY

Re:True (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#45304719)

Well, it's more complicated than that. But his perspective seems to be one applying a humanistic vision in conjunction with empiricism. The fact that it's an unusual approach to charity is what's really baffling.

Re:True (0, Flamebait)

JWSmythe (446288) | about a year ago | (#45305017)

It's a very obvious capitalistic endeavor.

Every person that dies is one less customer. You don't have to be Internet connected to be a Microsoft customer.

Facebook, on the other hand, requires Internet connectivity. Every person that doesn't have Internet service is an untapped customer.

Re:True (1)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#45305237)

Wow, that's a real dick thing to assume. If you're kidding, you should probably say so.

Re:True (0)

JWSmythe (446288) | about a year ago | (#45305817)

There's no room in business for humor. No good business person makes a decision without calculating their potential profit and loss (or risk/benefit, if you prefer those terms). If you don't understand it, I'd hazard to guess that you've never been involved in senior business decisions for a multimillion dollar company.

Re:True (5, Insightful)

Frobnicator (565869) | about a year ago | (#45305183)

Well, it's more complicated than that. But his perspective seems to be one applying a humanistic vision in conjunction with empiricism. The fact that it's an unusual approach to charity is what's really baffling.

Baffling indeed.

Yes, having the people educated is one thing that needs to happen. But it is one of many components.

In order to give them Internet access they must also have power and communications systems. They must be literate or all the words are meaningless.

If the people are dying of malnutrition then yes, additional education about farming techniques and food safety can help. If people are dying from sanitation problems then yes, additional education can help. But it is just a single thing on the long list of things that need to happen to transform a society.

Sure they can give the rural slash-and-burn farmers an Internet-enabled computer with satellite modems and solar power chargers. It is nice to teach a farming community that for generations has practice slash-and-burn techniques that they should read about alternatives, but that by itself will not solve anything. Give them computers and Internet access and all you will have is a community who still practices the same techniques, with the change that they now can watch cat videos and play Angry Birds. The technology by itself won't transform them.

It takes a lot of pieces working together. It is true that giving computers to children can help benefit the community as shown through "Hole in the Wall" and other experiments [google.com] but that little bit of education is only one facet, there are hundreds of other facets that need to be addressed. Providing a little bit of education is useful, but does not help much against problems of rampant disease, abuse, family planning, nor does it provide the tools and technology needed to implement what is taught. Teaching the community "this is what refrigeration can do for you" doesn't help if they cannot get electricity. Teaching the community "these are health issues that chlorinated water can treat" doesn't help when the village is struggling just to get enough muddy water so everyone can subsist.

There is much work to do. If one group wants to help by adding educational tools, that is certainly one useful thing. But Gates is right that there is a very broad spectrum of changes needed to bring regions out of poverty, and Internet access alone is not enough.

Re:True (4, Interesting)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year ago | (#45305031)

Bill Gates is right. Zuckerberg's plan is a joke and the Internet isn't all that important for solving the world's problems. Unfortunately, Gates isn't helping much either, due to his fake philanthropy that often does more harm than good.

The Gates Foundation has an endowment of $30 Billion making it the largest philanthropic organization in the world. But one third of that money is invested in companies whose practices run counter to the foundation’s supposed charitable goals and social mission.

In Africa, the Foundation has invested more than $400 million dollars in oil companies responsible for pollution that many blame for respiratory problems and other afflictions among the local population.

The Gates Foundation also has investments in sixty-nine of the worst polluting companies in the US and Canada.. It holds investments in pharmaceutical companies whose drugs cost far beyond what most patients around the world can afford and the Foundation often lobbies on behalf of those companies for "Intellectual Property" protections that make obtaining low cost medicines more difficult.

Other companies in the Foundation’s portfolio have been accused of forcing thousands of people to lose their homes, supporting child labor and defrauding and neglecting patients in need of medical care.

NOW he tells us!!! (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#45305415)

Why did he re-orient Microsoft towards the Internet starting in the mid 90s?

Bill is doing the right things (5, Insightful)

Calibax (151875) | about a year ago | (#45304631)

Years ago, when I was a zoology major in university, I spent some time working on a study of elephant migration paths in Africa.

It was an eye opening experience. I was staggered by the sheer poverty, the lack of access to safe drinking water and food, the high rates of preventable illness, and the high rate of child deaths. I remember a woman living in Uganda who made "biscuits" for children made with washed dirt simply so they could get something into their stomachs that would reduce the hunger pains and not kill them. I don't give to USA charities since then. I give all my charity dollars to people who are doing outstanding work in areas of disease and poverty.

I have no idea what people struggling to find food would do with the internet. Would it enrich their lives? I don't see how. Would it save them from disease? Would it allow their children greater likelyhood to see their fifth birthday?

Bill Gates has the right idea. I just wish other very rich people had as much sense and willingness to spend their money to help people.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304783)

Imagine having a library in your village that could show you how to build water condensers, new farming techniques, basic chemistry that could improve your quality of life, really ANY piece of information you could conceive of as well as the ability to communicate remotely with other vilalges trying to overcome similar problems at the touch of your hands.

But no, better to hand out fish then give access to fishing instructions.

Knowledge is power.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (5, Interesting)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about a year ago | (#45304849)

Imagine having a library in your village that could show you how to build water condensers, new farming techniques, basic chemistry that could improve your quality of life, really ANY piece of information you could conceive of as well as the ability to communicate remotely with other vilalges trying to overcome similar problems at the touch of your hands.

But no, better to hand out fish then give access to fishing instructions.

Knowledge is power.

This is the stuff right here. It is not just one or the other, both are important. Having someone parachute in and give everybody shots is one noble and great thing. Having someone drive up right behind him with a library is yet another.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305783)

Then you'll have to figure in incentive. Sure, give them all the information you want, give them the assistance, but if they don't care, nothing will change. There is also imagination; what dreams are there in these places?

Re:Bill is doing the right things (3, Insightful)

xevioso (598654) | about a year ago | (#45305787)

This is asinine. Do you realize the literacy rate in these countries?

This is why a "library" is useless for these people. They have very little time to even go to school in the poorest parts of the world because they are spending their time trying to make a subsistence living. That is how our ancestors lived, and people were only able to go to school and concentrate and learn once they had food in their bellies.

Someone parachuting in, not with a library, but with the KNOWLEDGE the library contains, and the willingness and money to build the infrastructure for them is better.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45306041)

This is asinine. Do you realize the literacy rate in these countries?

With attitudes like yours, it will never get any better.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304851)

Unfortunately warfare, famine, and pestilence has destroyed the infrastructure needed to do the basics. We would need a sort of developing country Wikipedia, where you can learn to use cheap garbage to create food and purify water. The knowledge would be specific, but ideally optimized for quick setup with little materials. Not sure how to stop the warfare destroying your up and coming village.

Golf clap. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305165)

Access to fishing instructions is not access to the means to create tackle or access to a body of water where fish exist to be caught.

This needn't be an either/or proposition -- give people basic sustenance and the means to raise their own lot as time goes on. But without that basic sustenance, you have no foundation on which to build anything, and all the building materials and instructions you provide will go to waste.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305197)

> how to build water condensers,
Build them out of what? Using what tools?

>new farming techniques,
Using what tools?

>basic chemistry that could improve your quality of life
Using what chemicals?

Your "Let them eat cake" level of ignorance is laughable.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305555)

Build them out of what? Using what tools?

The other anonymous coward most likely refers to survival tricks that start out simplistic using sticks, stones and cloth.

Using what chemicals?

People in poor countries might have trouble building bombs from kitchen supplies alone, however there are a lot of chemical processes that where used long before the dark ages.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (1, Troll)

skaralic (676433) | about a year ago | (#45305207)

Imagine having a library in your village that could show you how to build water condensers, new farming techniques, basic chemistry that could improve your quality of life, really ANY piece of information you could conceive of as well as the ability to communicate remotely with other vilalges trying to overcome similar problems at the touch of your hands.

But no, better to hand out fish then give access to fishing instructions.

Knowledge is power.

Knowledge is power. That's bullshit. What use is knowledge when you are in no condition to put it to use. These people are not stupid.

Imagine this ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305277)

Imagine having a library in your village that could show you how to build water condensers, new farming techniques, basic chemistry that could improve your quality of life, really ANY piece of information you could conceive of as well as the ability to communicate remotely with other vilalges trying to overcome similar problems at the touch of your hands.

And what about having the money to BUY the supplies to build such things let alone the political stability to keep them.

Knowledge is power but MONEY is even more powerful and having the political stability to implement those plans is even better.

Technology and the Internet is NOT a panacea! When will you people get this?!

Re:Bill is doing the right things (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305315)

This demonstrates a complete lack of understanding regarding what the real world problems are. They know *how* to build these things. The problem is GETTING THEM BUILT. The poor village in the back woods doesn't have the resources to build these things.

Furthermore, many of the problems that people are facing have nothing to do with "building things" - it is a lack of resources (lack of food, lack of water, lack of medicine, etc). The reason these things are lacking has nothing to do with "knowledge". It has to do with access to resources, political issues, human nature, war, etc.

Its only the silicon valley folk who take all these things for granted that do not understand where the problems really lie. Those folks who want to justify their personal wealth as being something that is making life better for others (when in fact, they are making their money off the desire of idle middle class people who want entertainment).

As much as I felt that Mr Gates was a rather rutheless businessman, I've found myself somewhat impressed by his real world sensibilities now that he no longer feels a need to justify his existence by making money.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305345)

Imagine having a library in your village

Imagine these people can't read. Imagine these people don't have the electricity to run a computer. Imagine these people have nobody to fix "the Internet" for them when the computer breaks. Imagine that a computer is worth quite a bit of money and will quickly disappear if not watched 24/7. Realize that giving people access to knowledge involves a lot of work on both sides.

Also: Realize that teaching people to fish is quite worthless in a very dry country, useless knowledge is a super useless power.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (1)

CaptainJeff (731782) | about a year ago | (#45305499)

Imagine being starving and having no ability to do anything for yourself. You need the fish to get yourself at a basic level before someone teaches you to fish. You need to know the value of the fish and know that understanding how you can acquire your own fish is beneficial and will improve your life quality. You need to understand the value of water condensers, farming techniques, etc, first. Then you learn them. You need both levels.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (1)

citizenr (871508) | about a year ago | (#45305941)

Imagine being starving and having no ability to do anything for yourself.

This is the current level of affairs in Africa, and the most popular answer to this problem is 'make babies like rabbits, because nothing solves problems better than kids with swollen abdomen and flies in their eyes'.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (5, Interesting)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | about a year ago | (#45305553)

Imagine having a library in your village that could show you how to build water condensers, new farming techniques, basic chemistry that could improve your quality of life, really ANY piece of information you could conceive of as well as the ability to communicate remotely with other vilalges trying to overcome similar problems at the touch of your hands.

But no, better to hand out fish then give access to fishing instructions.

Knowledge is power.

You know, this sounds like a great idea in practice.

In reality it is quite different. I agree with Calibax. Having seen the poverty first hand and having worked to help build a medical clinic in Kenya, as well as my Ex, who runs a charity in Tanzania.

We got them some of these books, and some of this knowledge. They have access to a lot of it believe it or not. The problem is not that they don't know how to do it, but the same infrastructure problems that bother us in the modern world. We might "know" that building a good rail network in a city area will improve infrastructure - but politics and other factors get in the way.

In the same way, gaining access to clean water sounds like it should make a difference, just give the people the knowledge of how to build that dam and water pipe, as well as a sand filter system, and it will all be fixed right?

Not in my experience. People in poor countries are just like us, but with fewer "toys". They procrastinate, they like to have fun. They would love to own an ipod or iphone. They are more concerned with getting the next meal and next "fun" thing than they are with building infrastructure. When is the last time you went out and built yourself a water line by hand? They just don't see it as a priority. I know this because when we worked on one trying to bring cleaner water to the clinic, all the locals wondered why we would bother when you could just get water from the stream like they always have. And yes, they know that the stream water would make them sick, but it is rather like dealing with a smoker - they have got along just fine this far with stream or swamp water, why should they change if things are working fine? There are other things to worry about.

So, in my experience, they have the material to teach them how to change, but are so focused on living day to day that they don't have the mental bandwidth to build infrastructure projects like you would expect. In my experience, Bill Gates approach is the right one - fix the basic needs first, then they will have the mental bandwidth to devote to projects.

Nuclear bombs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305633)

There is plenty of information on the net to build nuclear bombs.

But I can't because the uranium isn't available to me.

Get the analogy?!

Re:Bill is doing the right things (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#45305821)

But no, better to hand out fish then give access to fishing instructions.

Maybe so. There is a very interesting article [economist.com] in this week's Economist Magazine that compared different methods of helping the poor. One of the most effective is "Unconditional Cash Transfers" or UCTs, that basically just hand out cash to poor families in Africa. This was surprisingly effective, because these poor families knew what they needed a lot better than the aid agencies, and there was so little overhead that nearly all the money went to the people in need rather than being eaten up by overhead and administration. There were a few limitations: the UCTs worked better when they went to women rather than men, and CCTs (Conditional Cash Transfers) that required children to attend school were found to have better long term results than UCTs. But otherwise, UCTs and CCTs were more effective than nearly any other charity scheme.

Knowledge is power.

Indeed. But your mistake is assuming that you have it and the poor people don't.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#45304859)

Bill Gates has the right idea. I just wish other very rich people had as much sense and willingness to spend their money to help people.

- I wish that people with money simply tried to make more money by growing their marketshare as much as they possibly can in any business they attempt, thus lowering costs and prices for everybody and I wish people would stop believing in nonsense, such as: giving away savings for simple consumer spending is a good thing for any economy.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (1)

xevioso (598654) | about a year ago | (#45305797)

Wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one fills up first.

Some rich people choose to use some of their money for charity, rather than to make more money. Deal with it.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304933)

I have no idea what people struggling to find food would do with the internet.

in zucker's view, they could update their facebook status or start a facebook group
or ironically click Like buttons for various things

Re:Bill is doing the right things (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#45304999)

Helping the poorest of the poor is indeed good and we have managed to lift many out of extreme poverty (less than $1.25/day) but we've not made the same progress on lifting people further out of the very poor (less than $2/day). Like for example India where 33% live in extreme poverty and 69% are very poor or Pakistan where 21% live in extreme poverty but 60% is very poor. Those billions of people also need a lift so we're more to help drag the poorest billion out of poverty.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305065)

Safe drinking water and food my actually be a better place to start...

Re:Bill is doing the right things (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305119)

I don't necessarily agree with this. We don't have a shortage of medicine and food on this planet, we've got a distribution problem and a population growth problem. The internet won't solve the immediate problems, but it will enable the spread of information that's needed to help break the cycle of poverty that keeps those countries poor. The primary drivers of poverty in Africa are:

1) They keep electing people who's main goal is to transfer as much wealth into bank accounts in Switzerland and the Caymans before they get kicked out of office and hope that they can see the revolution coming enough in advance to flee the country.
2) People have an unsustainable number of children.
3) Access to educational materials is limited, so people continue to ignorantly do numbers 1 and 2.

If the Internet can help raise the level of education and shine a light on the kleptocracy that's plagued many African countries, it has the possibility of making the situation better for the people that survive. Curing disease while keeping everyone ignorant won't result in lasting change. In fact there's compelling evidence that western aid actually exacerbates poverty rather than alleviating it.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305371)

I was staggered by the sheer poverty, the lack of access to safe drinking water and food, the high rates of preventable illness, and the high rate of child deaths. I remember a woman living in Uganda who made "biscuits" for children made with washed dirt simply so they could get something into their stomachs that would reduce the hunger pains and not kill them.

So what would a proper health care do to to those who can not eat?

There are different necessities. First is the survival, and we have eat, sleep, then proper survival with the help of medicine, then a good life in a proper environment (city, village), then education, which also comes in the form of communication.

There is no single thing that will "save the world". What good is health care without food? What good is food if you're living at chernobyl? I'm getting extreme but you see the point, I hope...

Re:Bill is doing the right things (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305619)

Bill Gates has the right idea.

No he doesn't. He'll prolong the lives of some people and fund some NGOs, but at the end of the day the hell-holes will still be hell-holes.

Perfectly healthy kids will still starve, will still get conscripted by warlords and will still die squabbling with the kids of other warlords. Perfectly healthy kids will still end up living lives of ignorance and mysticism courtesy of their parents and the leaders of the prevailing theocracy.

And no, "education" is not the answer. Build all the libraries you want; the warlords will insure that well read intellectuals comply with their rule regardless. Educated societies have succumb and been kept under foot throughout history; North Koreans are not illiterate.

Briefly inhibiting some Cholera incidents isn't going to fix everything.

Buy hey, you found a way to work in criticism of "rich people" and thus farm your instant +5. Yay groupthink.

Re:Bill is doing the right things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305743)

It just reflects the future when our energy reserves run out and the Earth is over-populated.

Drinking Water Isn't So Easy As You Think (3, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about a year ago | (#45305753)

When I was a kid I did Unicef collection every Haloween. We got an orange cardboard coin box at school, and collected donations to it along with our trick-or-treat. Unicef used these funds to build water wells for people in Africa who had only access to contaminated surface water.

A decade or two later, we found that many of these wells accessed aquifers that were contaminated by arsenic. And that thus we kids had funded the wholesale poisoning of people in Africa, and that a lot of them had arsenic-induced cancers that were killing them.

OK, we would not make that mistake again, and today we have access to better water testing. But it caused me to lose my faith that we really do know how to help poor people in the third world, no matter how well-intentioned we are.

And we had better not go around curing disease withoput also promoting birth control. Despite what the churches say, and the local dislikes and prejudices. Or we'll just be condemning more people to starve.

but... (-1, Troll)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#45304659)

what about win8... surely that will help
i jest i jest

TLDR (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304681)

TLDR: Get your vaccines.

Save the world? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304701)

We keep people alive with no hope for the future. What exactly are we saving people from? How is this saving the world?
 
The goal posts are too wide and too blurry to consider this a real question.

overpopulated (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304729)

too many people on the planet ... Gates is way off on this one.
Unsurprising, coming from Gates ... Who completely overlooked the internet when he ran Microsoft.

Re:overpopulated (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304843)

We're nowhere near the carrying capacity for the earth. What we have is a food and resources distribution problem. Mostly caused by corrupt governments.

Given that the population seems to be increasing at a decreasing rate, all we need to do is keep improving the quality of life for individuals in the third world so that they don't need to have more than 3 or so children.

Re:overpopulated (1, Informative)

cgt (1976654) | about a year ago | (#45305809)

All right, you go first then.

Re:overpopulated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305825)

Do you realize that a higher standard of living is statistically correlated with fewer births?

Do you realize that the poorest members of the world represent a largely untapped labor supply?

Do you realize that human beings are dying slow, horrible deaths from cured, curable, and treatable diseases all over the world right now, and the only thing standing in the way of their treatment is the egregiously huge wealth gap?

Lastly, do you realize that your particular brand of assholery is as uneducated and slothful as it is incompassionate?

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304731)

...his IT tech is certainly never going to save the world. Someone with competent software might.

Hey Bill? (-1, Troll)

The Cat (19816) | about a year ago | (#45304739)

How about the children of the Microsoft orange badge employees who never got benefits, regular schedules, raises, job security or promotions?

They also were not allowed to buy from the company store or ride the company bus. How did that affect their family? Did they have time to spend with their children?

Shall we go into Microsoft's well known support for offshoring tens of thousands of jobs to a place where children live in 8x8 concrete hovels and work for $1.80 a day?

Hey Bill, you know you spent $100 billion on R&D for Windows. We could have cured malaria 1000x over for that. In fact, we could have solved every major epidemic mankind has ever faced for $100 billion. Instead we got Windows 8.

Nice job, Bill.

Re:Hey Bill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304775)

work for $1.80 a day
Ramen sucks, but is better than dirt cakes.

Re:Hey Bill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305329)

I had Ramen for lunch today.... I remember when they were 10 for a dollar.

Re:Hey Bill? (1, Troll)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#45305269)

Wow. You ARE a dick. You're whining about contractors working at Microsoft and Windows 8? This is a discussion about helping people with or without Internet access, not your own personal bitch-fest.

Re:Hey Bill? (1)

Jiro (131519) | about a year ago | (#45305625)

It doesn't matter that the contractors harmed aren't poor third-world people. You don't get to excuse mistreating your workers just because your profit from the mistreatment goes to help people who are worse off than the workers you mistreated.

Re:Hey Bill? (2)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#45305731)

Contractors aren't mistreated in any way. They don't get company health insurance. Big deal. They're generally paid much more than "permanent" employees. Regardless, if you can't cut it for whatever reason, then find another line of work. There's no comparison between a IT contractor for MS and a kid starving to death in some shithole in Africa, and anybody delusional enough to think so needs a swift kick in the ass.

Re:Hey Bill? (1)

jmd (14060) | about a year ago | (#45305449)

And as a result of this kind of thinking Gates and other capitalists employ you get this:

"As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface." Chris Hedges

And percolating they are. :)

What will save the world? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304765)

Everyone using Word.

They are both wrong (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#45304781)

Eradicating disease sounds like a noble pursuit and indeed Nobel prizes have been awarded for efforts there. However the problem with success is that disease is one of natures ways of keeping populations in check. The other natural method of keeping populations in check is predators and we humans have pretty much eliminated most of our natural predators. Were one of the very rare species that dies from old age, a luxury not available to most of the animal kingdom.

Overpopulation is a serious problem in parts of the world and it's only getting far worse. Not only does overpopulation lead to problems like a shortage of food it also leads to increase in pollution of all kinds. It also further strains social services as more and more people need services such as medical care. The net result would be an inevitable surplus of humans a substantial risk of not being able to take care of them.

Unless we can pair getting rid of diseases with far better birth control all were going to do is create a perfect dystopian future.

Re:They are both wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305055)

Unless we can pair getting rid of diseases with far better birth control all were going to do is create a perfect dystopian future.

We have plenty of very safe and very effective methods of birth control. The two major problems are not technological, but rather social:

1. Women who are not themselves empowered tend not to use birth control, or tend not use it effectively.

2. Religious nuts think their particular holy book gives them the right to dictate family planning to everyone else on the planet.

Fix those problems and birth control will be no issue whatsoever.

Re:They are both wrong (3, Interesting)

JMZero (449047) | about a year ago | (#45305063)

Well, that's the naive cynical view. The reality is that as societies become more wealthy (particularly, as they move out of starvation/subsistence) they have less children (not more), and an important part of getting out of the poverty trap is reducing disease (which destroys a tremendous amount of labor). It's not the only step, obviously, but it is a step in the right direction (even if we are trying to behave as idealized, heartless social planning robots, and ignore all the current suffering this could mitigate).

Re:They are both wrong (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about a year ago | (#45305131)

I wish I could find the link to the great presentation a professor did on TED. It showed how better healthcare, increase in lifestyle and education directly resulted in reduced births per family.

Re:They are both wrong (1)

somepunk (720296) | about a year ago | (#45305293)

Education, access to health services, and increasing affluence will do wonders for reducing fertility rates. Bangledesh is a striking example of this. Also, consumption is a bigger problem than population overall. The average westerner has something like 13x the carbon footprint of a person living in subsaharan africa, IIRC.

Re:They are both wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305381)

You're right, but there's also a problem with what you're saying. Humans in general have an empathic concern for other members of their species; the ones that do not are considered an exception and labeled as a psychological dysfunction (sociopathy), whereas concern for others is considered "humane". You're talking in the abstract, in terms of concepts such as "overpopulation" and "billions of people", but underlying those concepts are real people and it is difficult to eliminate the human drive to save the lives of others, especially when they think it's preventable.

Birth control is unfortunately not an option. The most extreme form of population control in recorded history is China's "one-child policy", in an attempt to curb their own population growth. The net result of the one-child policy is that population growth rates did not slow at all, but did result in a massive gender imbalance (currently reported newborns are 120 males to 100 females), a massive strain on the resources of younger generations (the 4-2-1 problem), infanticide, child abandonment, etc.

The only thing that has slowed population growth rates historically is economic opportunity. When a country or ethnic group has achieved some higher level of GDP growth and education level, fertility rates drop. So the real target should be to find ways to liberalize and open up economic opportunities in developing countries as this historically results in a drop in the population growth rates, and frankly is a win-win no matter whcih way you look at it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic-economic_paradox

Hmmmm.... Kickstarter? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#45304793)

One Kickstarter campaign could feed a whole village for 30 years.

My charity is more important than your charity... (1)

nharmon (97591) | about a year ago | (#45304811)

I'm not saying Gates is necessarily wrong, but it is awfully convenient that the most important issue for the world just happens to be the one his charity is involved in.

I question whether you can even know what will "save the world". Look at risks to human civilization. What is the impact of malaria on the population versus say, an asteroid crashing into our planet? The latter is more catastrophic to the survival of our species than the former, but the probability of occurrence is much lower.

What if the Internet becomes instrumental to the identification of an asteroid threat with sufficient time to mitigate its effects? Will the Internet have 'saved the world'?

Again, I'm not saying that curing disease isn't important, and I applaud Mr. Gates' efforts even if I may question his motives. But I don't think he can possibly know what will and will not "save the world".

Re:My charity is more important than your charity. (2)

JMZero (449047) | about a year ago | (#45304997)

but it is awfully convenient that the most important issue for the world just happens to be the one his charity is involved in

He didn't just find himself running a disease charity, so therefore he's claiming that's what's important. He chose to set up a charity for what he felt was the most important problem. You can say he's wrong if you want, sure - but saying it's "convenient" is really silly; you're getting the causality chain completely backwards.

Still sour (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304827)

Completely failed to see it coming, still hasn't gotten over it.

Like it didn't back then, his money still hasn't bought him wisdom now. For what happens if he does manage to eradicate child hunger and child illness and child mortality, the world over? One hint: China's one child policy exists for a reason. Yes, it has nasty side effects, but that's not the point. Just saying "we won't let any child go hungry" means shortly everybody, adult or child, goes hungry. It's fairly simple math, but apparently that's too far beyond counting money for him.

Who's the joke here, then?

Seeing & Reading First (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304853)

He's right. Basic literacy and just the Vitamin A to ward off blindness have to come first. How are they going to use the Internet otherwise?

How not to help the developing world .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304893)

How about not making money out of pushing ineffective malaria vaccines, by pushing 'loans' to developing countries to buy the drugs from pharmaceutical companies that Gates has shares in ..

Re:How not to help the developing world .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305333)

A billionaire trying to make money? Say it isn't so. You sound like a conspiracy theorist and a little bit racist too.

"No, really, you guys, the internet's just a fad!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304937)

"Hey, you guys, remember how I said the internet was just a fad, and that's why our MSN was so totally going to fuck that little thing up? Yeah, I'm still saying that. I'm playing some long-game shit here, bitches. The internet won't solve absolutely every problem in the world, and that's all that matters. In eighty or ninety years, it'll prove to be a fad, just like I said. Seriously, I've got to be right again sometime, just like the old days."

Too many humans! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45304949)

Yes, the poverty and hunger is horrific but the long term solution to save the world cannot lie purely with saving the lives of these starving people. Surely it makes more sense to improve education regarding birth control and provide free access to contraception? Contraception is widely rejected on religious grounds, I know, but there are simply too many humans on the planet. Most people toil for most of their lives to try and get one over on other people by earning money from them so they can scrape together enough to pay for a little patch of land to live on. This fierce competition over land and resources isn't going to get better by actively encouraging population expansion. Governments like population expansion because it produces more potential tax payers and voters and pushes up the value of the properties they own. It's not good for the planet though - I'd not even mentioned all the other organisms struggling desperately to compete with humanity. Technology could allow a utopian future for humans where no-one needs to work involuntarily but that will never be possible when the land is overcrowded.

Re:Too many humans! (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#45305395)

People might care more about contraception when their children aren't dying of hunger before age 5.

Re:Too many humans! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305933)

But why have children if you are knowingly condemning them to starvation? The more children you have, the less food there is to go around.

More product (2)

digitalPhant0m (1424687) | about a year ago | (#45304961)

Of course ... 5 billion more facebook accounts, more product for Facebook to sell to advertisers.

Re:More product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305429)

Will the advertisers take gourds as payment for that shiny new iPad?

The White Man's Burden... (1, Insightful)

jmd (14060) | about a year ago | (#45304967)

The old give it to me first so I can redistribute it to whom I see fit..... and most of us blame governments for doing this. Capitalists do the same thing.

Eliminate unbridled global capitalism and you have a chance at saving the world. MCDonalds is crap nutrition but their food distribution system is fantastic. Eliminate the need for McDs profits and use the food distribution for humanity... you might get somewhere.

I would venture to say that the creation of Linux (and other open source software) has done more to benefit humanity that Windows (or OSX).

Re:The White Man's Burden... (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about a year ago | (#45305379)

If we're picking champions Symbian has probably done more for humanity than any other operating system in terms of saving lives and helping people make important connections.

Yeah it will (1)

mfwitten (1906728) | about a year ago | (#45304991)

The free flow of information—that is, the Great Discussion—is already helping people identify and eliminate the stupidity in their own respective cultures/socities.

Cryptographic technologies are allowing countercultures and new ideas to blossom in protected environments, and decentralize the control of resources, thereby allowing society to evolve more effectively by variation and selection.

The Internet will save the world. The Internet is already saving the world.

Re:Yeah it will (2)

slew (2918) | about a year ago | (#45305383)

The internet is a tool, nothing more.

Like any tool it could be used for "good" or bad. Cryptographic techology allows both counter-cultures and terrorist networks to blossom (good or bad depending on your politics), and allows people to protect their IP from piracy (good or bad depending on your politics). Decentralized control of resources can be good (more experiments), or bad (segregation, discrimination). Unfortunatly just as it decentralizes, the internet also appears to be concentrating other resources (people are funneled to the large social networking companies) and delocalizing (killing off local small businesses).

The internet will change the world, The internet is already changing the world.

Will it save the world? It's a stretch, but maybe it will save the world from the past. But it won't save us from the future (one day no one will remember the Internet, as it will be a quaint reminder of a past era like the pony express).

Re:Yeah it will (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305705)

You are naive. The internet is just keeping you fat and lazy.

Education will save the world (2)

Andrio (2580551) | about a year ago | (#45305013)

Giving people treatment to diseases is great, but it's a short term solution. What happens in 10 years, if you're not around to give them treatment?

People in underdeveloped countries need to be able to self-sustain themselves. Even if they can't develop a treatment themselves, they should be able to economically support importing it. Education is what's needed for all of this, and the internet is the best tool for education.

So, we need both short term (giving them the treatment they need) and long term (giving them the tools they need to advance).

Re:Education will save the world (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about a year ago | (#45305261)

The efforts in these 3rd world countries are more than providing supplies. They actually show people how to dig wells and find drinkable water. There are communities that have been built on this concept and that have become self sufficient.

Internet requires computers and computer require electricity. To get to the point where computers can help these people, they need to develop infrastructure and that requires people going there and teach them how to build communities. That is where the funding needs to go at this point in time.

Re:Education will save the world (2)

cowdung (702933) | about a year ago | (#45305623)

The efforts in these 3rd world countries are more than providing supplies. They actually show people how to dig wells and find drinkable water. There are communities that have been built on this concept and that have become self sufficient.

Internet requires computers and computer require electricity. To get to the point where computers can help these people, they need to develop infrastructure and that requires people going there and teach them how to build communities. That is where the funding needs to go at this point in time.

No. Progress in "3rd world countries" comes about when people are empowered to look at their own problems and find their own solutions to them rather than have "experts" from the "developed world" come and tell them what to do.

Re:Education will save the world (1)

cowdung (702933) | about a year ago | (#45305569)

People in "under-developed" countries are not the only ones in trouble in this world. Those in Europe and the US shouldn't think that they're future is necessarily better than those in the "third world".

What will save the world is a profound recognition of the oneness of humankind, that we all have rights and responsibilities, that we all should be respected and that the only way to solve our problems is learning how to collaborate. Also, the vast majority of humanity must learn to solve its own problems rather than wait for politicians or opportunists to come solve it for them.

The profound understanding of who we are and what we are capable of achieving when we work hard, honestly and with regard for the rights of all at the local, national and international sphere will allow us to over come problems.

Tecnology, economic development, material education will all flourish if progress is made at the human level.

Fairy tales... (0)

alukin (184606) | about a year ago | (#45305087)

Once upon a time this guy said that Internet will never survive and NetBIOS will rule the world

Re:Fairy tales... (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about a year ago | (#45305145)

I want a link to that statement. I knew the second that heavy protocol came out that it would not survive.

Better not give them the Internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305157)

If you give them the Internet, they'll know how the rest of us live.

.

well, duh (1)

Luke_22 (1296823) | about a year ago | (#45305221)

The Internet is a tool, subject to the human will and policies.

"eradicating disease" is instead long, constant process that requires multiple tools, innovation and people.
It also already has an objective (saving people's lifes).

So, we are comparing a mere object with no specific objective to a long, evolving process with a specific goals...

Color me unimpressed.
But even "eradicating disease" per se doesn't save the world, first because "the world" is not "the people", and because having the cure doesn't mean that you are willing to distribute it freely or at accessible costs.

So, to sum it up... the right policies will save the world?

Re:well, duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305579)

he Internet is a tool, subject to the human will and policies.

"eradicating disease" is instead long, constant process that requires multiple tools, innovation and people.
It also already has an objective (saving people's lifes).

So, we are comparing a mere object with no specific objective to a long, evolving process with a specific goals...

Nothing that Bill Gates hasn't already said, which is the point of TFA.

Color me unimpressed.

Don't give a... (5, Insightful)

photosonic (830763) | about a year ago | (#45305239)

Mark Zuckerberg's and the like don't give a shit personally about the other people who don't have internet connection and the reasons they are not online. They just want them online for revenue. Get them online, make advertising dollars from them, let them figure out how to survive life.

Re:Don't give a... (2)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about a year ago | (#45305589)

Mark Zuckerberg's and the like don't give a shit personally about the other people who don't have internet connection and the reasons they are not online. They just want them online for revenue. Get them online, make advertising dollars from them, let them figure out how to survive life.

Did Bill Gates care about the wider world when he was Zuckerberg's age? Wasn't he busy building a monolithic and morally questionable business?
I imagine it's rather easier to look good in the eyes of the world when you're sitting on enough money to do something about it, and the days when you collected that money are over.

Gates is either out of touch or a liar (0)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year ago | (#45305319)

What's threatening the species is not disease.

It's the species' behavior. Resulting in climate change
and an unlivable world.
And unresponsibility on the part of the opulent.

Re:Gates is either out of touch or a liar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305677)

What's threatening the species is not disease.

It's the species' behavior. Resulting in climate change
and an unlivable world.

You just aren't looking at the problem as you should. Yes: this is quite possibly the most urgent problem we have. The problem is more social networking isn't going to fix it. The only fix is to reduce the population size. The only way we are likely to do that is to eat people. I don't know about you but I want my Soylent green disease free!

I'm only 0.5 joking.... there are too many people. We need less hairless apes on this planet.

I couldn't agree with him more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305601)

Bill Gates clearly is thinking intelligently. The silicon valley notion that connectivity and communication is what the world needs more of is so out of touch with reality that it's counter productive. That attitude (that hurling pictures at each other solves the worlds problems) is the reason why I can't even stand short trips to the SF and the surrounding cities.

Didn't he one say (2)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#45305603)

That the internet was just a fad, and not a priority for Microsoft?
Or at least something to that effect?
I think it was in his book.

Not black or white, not either/or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45305701)

Getting all of the 5 billion unconnecteds will certainly go a long way to making their sitation more real for many more people. Right now it seems like people who have a personal experience see things for what they are, but for everyone else it's abstract. A constant connection (the internet) to those people will make it more real for a significantly larger part of the population. Hopefully that makes more people appreciate what they have and allows those that have the resourses get to those that need the help. Maybe, finally, the needy can be empowered with knowledge and resources and be able to pull themselves up from their situation.

Duh? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#45305891)

The important part is that when we send food and supplies, part of the supplies should be education tech. Its going to take a very long time to raise the floor in Africa, but tech modestly and intelligently applied will make incredibly widespread progress.

Nay Sayer Of the Week (1)

b4upoo (166390) | about a year ago | (#45305999)

Ok, give me a trophy. Call me a really negative idiot or whatever. But seriously folks over population is an urgent and overwhelming issue. If you want a healthier world, a more employable population, less diseases, wars and poverty then the last thing you want to do is save lives. Saving lives is only valuable when you have firm control over birth rates. For those with very short memories the population bomb is real, it is here now, and it is eating us alive. If you think thing suck now wait until another twenty years passes and the world population doubles again.
              The trap is that although science is wonderful it is down right ignorant to assume that breakthrough after breakthrough can prevent a total collapse of our system and a a day of reckoning unlike any cluster of horrors we have ever faced before. And it is coming rather quickly.

ATTN: Bill Gates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45306097)

neither will you

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