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Bill Gates the technology skeptic

Eric Havir

Bill Gates is not quite impressed with Google’s Project Loon. He tells Brad Stone of Businessweek that increasing access to the internet is not going to solve problems like diarrhea.

When you’re dying of malaria, I suppose you’ll look up and see that balloon, and I’m not sure how it’ll help you. When a kid gets diarrhea, no, there’s no website that relieves that. Certainly I’m a huge believer in the digital revolution. And connecting up primary-health-care centers, connecting up schools, those are good things. But no, those are not, for the really low-income countries, unless you directly say we’re going to do something about malaria.

Critics of the Gates Foundation have pointed out its use of technological solutions to address problems related to poverty. Turns out Gates is not convinced technology is always the answer.

Google started out saying they were going to do a broad set of things. They hired Larry Brilliant, and they got fantastic publicity. And then they shut it all down. Now they’re just doing their core thing. Fine. But the actors who just do their core thing are not going to uplift the poor.

He goes on to talk about the significant influence of the foundation on American education, climate change and defines what ‘winning’ means for the foundation.

If the death rates of poor children come down to the amazingly low rate of rich children, that would be a signature accomplishment. In the U.S., if we have an education system where the inner-city kid and the suburban kid have equal opportunity, that would be a huge contribution.

HT The Verge


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]