back to article Bill Gates's barbed comments pop Google's broadband balloons

Charity mogul Bill Gates couldn't give a flying clippy about Google's broadband balloon PR puffery. The tech titan reserved some barbed words for Google when asked by BusinessWeek what he thought of the Mountain View Chocolate Factory's "loon" attempt to bring internet to developing countries via floating balloons. "When you' …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Gates believes that problems with human health are more fundamental than Google's plan to give the poor access to lolcats, ad-backed Gmail, and grainy YouTube videos of sneezing pandas."

    Finally, some one with a bit of sanity and an outlook on the complete picture. He might not be a saint, but for this comment I'll give him an A+.

    1. Roo

      Re: Intelligence!

      Blimey, Bill Gate's is still getting blind-sided by the internet again, he really is a dipstick sometimes. Here are a few ways I think the Internet can help with Malaria (some of them have actually been put into practice by people with Malaria in Africa too).

      0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

      1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance.

      2) You could use the internet to help you find the nearest clinic.

      3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments.

      ... And then there's the long game ...

      The internet can help people conduct and grow their businesses in remote areas (ie: they can reach foreign markets, investors etc), thereby bringing prosperity to remote areas help improve the quality of life, and incidentally give them more money to spend on healthcare and education.

      Sure, curing Malaria would be great, but people still need a roof over their heads, food and fuel while they wait for it. Also, the chances of eradicating Malaria are pretty slim because it evolves. Several treatments have already been rendered ineffective because Malaria has adapted to counter them and unfortunately this process will continue regardless of what Bill thinks is right and wrong.

      1. Hairy Spod

        Re: Intelligence!

        I'd rather be given one of Bill's mosquito nets than access to free wi fi for the afternoon.

        And what's the point of knowing where the nearest clinic is if I cant afford to see the physician or buy any medicine.

        1. mfraz

          Re: Intelligence!

          If it is a Microsoft mosquito net then it'll have huge big holes in it for the mosquitos to enter!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: mfraz

            "If it is a Microsoft mosquito net then it'll have huge big holes in it for the mosquitos to enter!"

            Not to worry, MS can patch that bug...

            In seriousness though, it does point out that we are better off looking for practical and immediate help at times. Although there are times where long term goals and assistance is needed. Education can help, but I'm not sure if "free internet" is the key there. Mosquito nets do seem to help in the short term. Let's hope the education side of things is done too...

            1. Sirius Lee

              Re: mfraz

              So the subject is the hardships of the unimaginably poor and you're choosing to take a pop at Microsoft. How desperate are you?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: mfraz

              'Not to worry, MS can patch that bug...'

              If you saw that BBC2 science club thing last night, you'd know that's exactly what some people are trying to do...

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. Darth_RayDar

            Re: Intelligence!

            No problem. Every Tuesday is 'Stitch Tuesday'.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Intelligence!

          "I'd rather be given one of Bill's mosquito nets than access to free wi fi for the afternoon."

          Just be sure not to turn the net inside out though; like on the Simpson's.

          "In Africa, anti-malaria mosquito nets go unused by recipients

          The treated nets are effective despite design flaws. But to better combat diseases of the poor, we should empower the very people affected to devise their own solutions."

          Wouldn't access to the Internet help empower them?

          "The premise behind the idea of treated nets is simple. The netting prevents malarial mosquitoes from biting people while they're asleep, and the insecticide kills and repels the insects. World health experts say that using the nets can reduce child mortality in malarial regions by 20%."

          A whopping 20%?

          "But even as donations roll in and millions of bed nets pile up in warehouses across Africa, aid agencies and non-governmental organizations are quietly grappling with a problem: Data suggest that, at least in some places, nearly half of Africans who have access to the nets refuse to sleep under them."

          So they don't want the nets.

          "Many rural people also believe that malaria is caused not just by mosquitoes but also by other factors such as mangoes, or hard work."

          Ahhh, that is why they just want assistance, use the guise of hard work causes malaria as an excuse not to work.

          1. Chicken Marengo

            Re: Intelligence!

            >>A whopping 20%?

            A 20% reduction in infant mortality translates to a marked increase in life expectancy. The advances in life expectancy that happened in the west with the introduction of modern medicine and hygiene standards were not due to old folk suddenly living longer, but due to reduced infant mortality (and death in child birth - another major issue in the developing world).

            >>Ahhh, that is why they just want assistance, use the guise of hard work causes malaria as an excuse not to work.

            Ah, that explains your tone. you would appear to be a Daily Mail reading racist who thinks everyone not fortunate enough to be within the top 1% of the worlds population is some sort of workshy scrounger.

            I suspect you have absolutely no concept of the gulf in income/wealth, health, education and life opportunities between the western world and the developing world. Which is a shame as unlike the majority of the worlds population, you actually have the tools and the wealth to educate yourself.

          2. Robert Helpmann??

            Re: Intelligence!

            "World health experts say that using the nets can reduce child mortality in malarial regions by 20%."

            A whopping 20%?


            Ahhh, that is why they just want assistance, use the guise of hard work causes malaria as an excuse not to work.

            ... or perhaps these are all stopgap measures until a true cure can be developed. Also, education plays a role in any disease eradication program. You seem to be blaming the victim a bit here.

        3. Montreal Sean

          Re: Intelligence!

          While free wi-fi access to the info is commendable, it ignores the fact that many of these people can't afford the smartphone or computer to use the wi-fi.

      2. andreas koch

        @ Roo - Re: Intelligence!

        You're right.

        But not in the places that get hit by Malaria and Dengue. In these regions people couldn't afford a RaspberryPi shared between 4 families, apart from the fact that there's no 'leccy to run it. And most would first have to learn to read as well.

        And you're twice right that the people need a roof, [clean water], food and fuel first. And then get some health issues right. And then get an education. And then get an infrastructure. And then, after all that, then get Google.

        Or, if you prefer, Bing.

        (I'm not a Mega-Microsoft fan, but I think Gates has the priorities 'righter'.)

      3. sam bo

        Re: Intelligence!

        I take it you have never been to a Third World country and seen the almost unimaginable poverty a large portion of this earths 7billion plus population live under ?

        Clean water - "luxury".

        First things first...the internet is a first world luxury, not a necessity.

        1. JaitcH
          Thumb Down

          Re: Intelligence!

          I live in Second and 'Third World' countries, to adopt your classification and I guess you haven't seen too much.

          Cell handsets and InterNet keep even the most basic of African villages rolling. Not only can they do business and banking over these facilities but also ascertain present day prices of commodities and minerals so they don't get ripped off by dealers.

          In Laos it's how remote villages keep in touch, summons help from authorities get medical advice, taking accommodation reservations and doing other business.

          In VietNam almost every teenager spends hours on-line studying languages from the BBC or general education from that equally amazing Khan Academy, even on-line university credit courses.

          Gates does his thing and Google does theirs.

          In making that snide comment Bill Gates, worth $61B and Richest Man in America, said more about his small mindedness, than anything.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: the almost unimaginable poverty

          You can't fix that overnight and there's no sense in trying to.

          Funny thing about building out the internet into those places. First thing you're going to need is a healthy workforce to do the building. That means the first thing you're going to have to do is teach them how to clean up the water, build the house, and get the food. Supplying them with the job building that infrastructure is actually going to go a long way toward them having the kind of money to do it.

          Second thing you're going to need is people using it. So you're going to have to do the same things for the people NOT working for you. And some of those people might start seeing opportunities to do things for people outside their villages. Things that might make them the kind of money so they can do their own things. Maybe even buy their own netting. And who knows, once connected to the internet one them might even have the breakthrough idea that creates an actual working renewable source of energy.

        3. Tim Worstal

          Re: Intelligence!

          10% of the population having a mobile phone adds 0.5% of the growth rate in GDP per year. That's in a country without a landline network.

          We also know that broadband increases the growth rate even where there is a landline network.

          Therefore we might assume that mobile broadband will increase the growth rate.

          Which is a pretty good thing in a place where there's hundreds of millions of poor people.

        4. Roo

          Re: Intelligence! @ "sam bo" (not the best of choice of name for this flamefest IMHO)

          I have spent a bit of time in a Third World country with no running water, electricity, proper middens etc, the kind of place where they tie up their disabled kids with barbed wire (no, I don't understand why they did that and yes it still makes me angry 20+ years later). Some of the brighter folks there would steal the telephone cabling for the single village telephone, so the guys trying to provide healthcare would have no way to order supplies etc, so there's one application for wireless comms for the masses right there.

          From that relatively short trip I've seen enough to know that curing Malaria would fix just one of the problems those folks have, meanwhile there's a lot of other stuff that can be fixed by a bit of education, better communication and easier access to better information.

          Go and push some Malaria nets if you feel like it, I think it's a good thing to do, but equally I think providing better communications is actually more useful - which is why I take issue with BillG rubbishing something that is a potential game changer for the poor sods out in the styx.

      4. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Intelligence!

        @Roo Dude, you've used the wrong icon. Something like this needs either the 'troll' or 'joke' icon.

      5. Darryl

        Re: Intelligence!

        "0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet."

        Wait. You can catch Malaria from the internet???!!!!

      6. Christopher Rogers
        IT Angle

        Re: Intelligence!

        You completely missed the point. Gates is aware of and indeed backs the use of tech for imrpoving quality of life. However, the diseases and awful conditions the people with on a daily basis, will not find salvation on a website, but in medicines and clean drinking water and a safe food supply. I'm all for the remote clinic idea for instance, but it is no use if the people cannot leave their homes due to being ravished by painful and crippling conditions.

        0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet. <- and still go out and drink from your only water supply, full of feces and god knows what else.

        1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance. <-Or approach the medical staff who have medicines with them, backed by international health organisations

        2) You could use the internet to help you find the nearest clinic. <- and not get to it because you are too weak, possibly blind and have a family to attend to.

        3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments. <-what, using paypal accounts full of sand?

        1. Christopher Rogers

          Re: Intelligence!

          "imrpoving" should be improving

          "people with on a daily basis" should be "people deal with on a daily basis"

          And i think that whole sentence reads badly, but you all seem to to get the drift....

        2. Tom 13

          Re: Intelligence!

          0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet. <- and still go out and drink from your only water supply, full of feces and god knows what else.

          Presumably one of the things you could find on the internet if information about how to improve your only water source. Although I expect most parts of the world figured out it not a good idea for your privy to run into your well before the English did.

          1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance. <-Or approach the medical staff who have medicines with them, backed by international health organisations

          I expect if International Health staff were just standing around the village with nothing to do, the first thing they would have done is improved that well we just finished discussing. In reality you probably have to hunt them down. So tell me, which is easier, having the family living on $1/month hunt down the medical staff backed by the billionaire, or having them send notice to the medical staff to come to the village or arrange a meeting at another location?

          3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments. <-what, using paypal accounts full of sand?

          Some of the stuff you can do to prevent it is no or very low cost. The internet certainly provides better chance to connect to organizations that assist with the expensive bits. Hell, put the a decent plan together and you might even be able to crowd source it. We 'Merkins take a lot of flack for not properly funding international organizations that governments create to handle these things. But what I've noticed is that if you go to a local church with a specific plan to help a specific location with a well thought out project, they'll cough up the money for it. Sometimes as quick as a week, sometimes longer depending on the size of the project.

      7. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Intelligence!

        0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

        you can catch malaria off of the internet?

      8. Christopher Edwards

        Re: Intelligence!

        You can't catch Malaria from the Internet.

        1. andreas koch
          Thumb Up

          @ Captain Obvious/ Christopher Edwards - Re: Intelligence!

          Thank you for this information.

        2. cyborg

          Re: Intelligence!

          I believed you and now I have Malaria. :(

      9. Montreal Sean

        Re: Intelligence!

        "0) You could learn about Malaria and how

        to avoid catching it from the internet."

        So, how do I avoid getting malaria from the internet? If it's transmitted by wire I'm ok, I'm wireless.


      10. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Intelligence!

        In order for that to work you'd need to be able to be literate. I think some my western brethren really need to get out a bit. Then again, judging by what I see before my eyes, it looks like some of my western brethren also could use a bit of literacy.

      11. Ralph B
        Thumb Up

        @Roo Re: Intelligence!

        I came here to say what you did, Roo, so gave you a upvote instead.

        (No idea why you've received so many downvotes though, since everything you've written seems quite reasonable and correct.)

        1. Roo

          Re: @Roo Intelligence! Back @ye Ralph

          Thanks for the thought Ralph.

          Judging by the self-righteous spleen venting going on in response to my post I suspect that you are one of the few people who read my whole post before they downvoted / commented. :)

          I have been to Africa, I have seen some of this stuff first hand and I do know from first hand experience that Malaria is a terrible disease. In fact a number of people who are close to me have survived severe doses of Malaria (a friend, my younger sister and a niece) and I would love to see better treatments for Malaria. I took exception to BillG's 'tude because I feel he appears to be slamming something that could revolutionise the lives of the poor folks in the Styx for no good reason.

      12. mIRCat

        Re: Intelligence!

        "0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet."

        Everyone knows you can't catch malaria from the internet.

        You get it from sporozoite - Protection Against Malaria by Intravenous Immunization with a Nonreplicating Sporozoite Vaccine.

      13. keep-it-calm-or-more
        Thumb Down

        Re: Intelligence!

        > 0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

        > 1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance.

        > 2) You could use the internet to help you find the nearest clinic.

        > 3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments.

        For the love of lolcats and internets, please do a little bit research before baffling out nonsense like that. Malaria is not a cold or common fever, it kills and it's not home treatable. No internet page will give you a vaccination or treatment ideas against that.

        Let me cite you something, as looking it up yourself seemed to be difficult :


        The WHO estimates that in 2010 there were 219 million cases of malaria resulting in 660,000 deaths,[79] equivalent to roughly 2000 deaths every day.[3] Using a different set of predictive models the number of documented and undocumented deaths in 2010 was estimated at 1.24 million.[80] This is up from an estimated 1.0 million deaths in 1990.


        If those 2000 deaths per day would be avoided by common knowledge and a page of information, believe me, they wouldn't happen.

        1. HippyFreetard

          Re: Intelligence!

          "Simple home-made malaria cure, discovered by a mum, that the WHO don't want you to know!!! Click here!"

      14. Amorous Cowherder

        Re: Intelligence!

        "Bill Gate's is still getting blind-sided by the internet again..."

        You can sit there in your nice cozy first-world seat, banging on about how the internet is empowering people with access to information. Yeah it does when people can use it and understand it.

        A vast majority of people in the third-world don't have have medicine, clean water, safe place to sleep, food to eat and what's more they haven't got a damn clue when the next meal is coming from or even when! You have boys as young at 7-8 or being forced to fight with weapons they can barely lift, the girls of the same age being "trained" to be comfort women for the the troops in war-torn areas. You have all the pharmo-corps dumping out of date medical supplies that are useless to the people. Dump 20,000 cases of out of date viagra on some country that's in the grip of a cholera epidemic. What about the hoo-ha when Nestle would send out baby-formula to countries but never put the right language on the tins so people used it incorrectly and infants died? Let's not even touch basic literacy, so many people in desperate need of the basic 3 Rs that our primary school kids take for granted.

        Yes people need information, yes they need education so they can get themselves out of the mess most of the countries of the west have put them in over the last few hundred years but it needs to be done face-to-face by people, where someone can ensure the information, education and aid gets right to the people who need it. We send millions in aid to foreign countries only to have some tinpot dictator nick it, spend it on doing up his palace and maybe 5% trickles down to the poor. Imagine we ship load of top-notch electronic kit out there, Xmas come early for General XYZ fo the People's Liberation Army.

        Education and information are too vital to be left to chance, they must be given in a way that ensures people get it, it stays with them and allows them to stand proud on their own two feet, then and only then will they have enough of the basic human rights and needs to be able to consider using luxuries we take for granted.

      15. Stoneshop

        Re: Intelligence!

        The internet can help people conduct and grow their businesses in remote areas (ie: they can reach foreign markets, investors etc), thereby bringing prosperity to remote areas help improve the quality of life, and incidentally give them more money to spend on healthcare and education.

        And infrastructure to actually get their products to or from remote markets would magically appear when there's internet?

        There are ways to help these people help themselves. Internet access is not the first on that list. By far.

      16. JohnG

        Re: Intelligence!

        "0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

        1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance.

        2) You could use the internet to help you find the nearest clinic.

        3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments."

        Roo, your comment suggests that you haven't been to any of the third world countries where, for most people, day to day survival is a bit of a challenge. Where children have any schooling, you can be sure that they and their parents are informed about how to avoid catching malaria and numerous other diseases. However, whilst the cost of a mosquito net may seem trivial to us, it may be prohibitively expensive for village folk. Anti-malarial drugs are also expensive and are often counterfeit i.e. useless and even harmful. They all know where the nearest clinic is but it may take the best part of a day to walk there and they probably won't have the money to pay for drugs or treatment.

      17. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        @RooRe: Intelligence!

        I think you'll find most people in the developing world have a pretty good idea of what Maleria is and how to avoid catching it.

        I'm no fan of bad boy Billy but in this one he's right. On Maslin's pyramid food, water, shelter and not dying are pretty basic needs.

      18. james 68

        Re: Intelligence!

        dont forget how doctors can use it to contact clinics and map outbreaks, request aid, order meds etc.

      19. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Intelligence!

        ... because that fabulous internet thingy will magically teach them how to read English?

        You think those people in need have the means to go to school, let alone buy a computer? Somehow, I doubt that's high on their priorities list.

        That's why internet is good to a school or other assistance center, but rather pointless to individuals.

        And you should learn about malaria. It's not a virus, it's a parasite. And there are no vaccines against parasites yet.

        1. Justicesays

          Re: Intelligence!

          "And you should learn about malaria. It's not a virus, it's a parasite. And there are no vaccines against parasites yet."

          Getting close though

      20. Triggerfish

        Re: Intelligence!

        While I see where you are coming from.

        I think you don't really show much knowledge of why people are being affected by malaria and why its such a killer in poor countries.

        For example

        Its alright knowing what causes it but affording mosquito nets and being able to eradicate issues such as stagnant water to prevent it aren't that easy in some of these areas.

        Likewise knowing that prophylactics are available is all well and good, but that's a lot of cash for someone whose poor to dose themselves with all of the time. (Plus some pretty unpleasant side effects - especially in the older type ones).

      21. Michael Habel

        Re: Intelligence!

        Assuming that your both "poor" and "brown"... just how, and dare I ask where... Do you find the Device / Power Source required to actually get on the Web? Then there's that pseky little problem of 55% of all the known Websites being in a foreign language to your own. Or do all Africans speak English too? This is even before you take in any basic education at all into consideration.

        I'm not a Billy Gates fanboi. not by a long shot, and throwing good money out with the bad on Africa IS NEVER THE ANSWER! I could care less if your name is Geldof of not! It can help the situation, but Africa also needs to change its identity too. A lot of times it stubbornly refuses to do so. Sadly history missed a tick back during the times when we had colonization. Yes you could argue about how it was a failure. I'm not saying that it wasn't! But, sometimes you have to kick some rass to get sh-- done.

        In the case of Europe... We can mostly thank the Italians for that... So lets not go all soft and assume Money is a great healer. ITS NOT! Money is Money cause we accept that it has value. I saw One time how some BBC Bloke in some Documetery gave your tribal African a single Dollar Bill. The poor bloke probably thought it was only good to wipe his rear with... Not that he'd be much wrong in thinking that.

        And its THIS THAT IS WRONG WITH AFRICA! Fix that, and most other things will eventually follow.

        i.e. >Implying that the colonization of South Africa has done much harm.

        Hell if anything it has probably made it into the single best Country on the whole of that Continent!

        1. Michael Habel

          Re: Intelligence!

          Well the down vote does not surprise me much.

          I agree its a hard concept to work out. But, if you want to fix the African Problem... You're gonna have to get your hands dirty. Money is only a Tool that, both parties must first agree to in order that a trade can then take place. If most internal Africans have no concept of what Credit, much less what Money is. And would rather play their time out as a primitive race of simple hunters, and gatherers. Without any other care in the World. Then who am I to say its wrong?

          But, then when the harvest / migration goes tits up we get pompous idiots like Geldof or Gates to point out how bad it all is. First off before we go looking for crap in far off, and slightly exotic climes. Shouldn't we fix whats wrong at home first?

          I wonder how much love the Romans had during their time of Empire... Say what you will but, Europe and much of the rest of the World would be a very different place then it is today if it, weren't for them.

      22. Colin Millar

        Re: Intelligence! Point 0)

        You can catch malaria from teh internets?!!!

        It really is a bad thing that internets.

      23. Anonymous Blowhard

        Re: Intelligence!

        0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

        You could; if you could read, and someone had provided you with a computer.

        1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance.

        Where's that coming from then? Things you take for granted like the availability of medical care just don't exist in much of the developing world.

        2) You could use the internet to help you find the nearest clinic.

        Really? If only these stupid people would just walk down the street to their local medical centre eh?

        3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments.

        First you'd need the money to pay for the treatment; I know why don't they use the internet to set up some kind of advertising business. If they work hard, and are lucky, they might be profitable before they've died.

        Crass doesn't even begin to describe your post.

        1. Roo

          Re: Intelligence! @ Anonymous Blowhard

          "Crass doesn't even begin to describe your post."

          Clearly you have failed to read my post because you (like so many others) have ignored most of it in your rush to post dumb and sarcastic responses to the bullet points.

          In fairness, I had the same kind of gut reaction when people were promoting cell phone use in poor areas (no leccy, they won't know how to work them etc) - but guess what ? Billions of those folks worked out how to use them, they found ways to charge them and they get a lot of value out of using their mobile phones. Throwing in Internet access isn't a big leap for these folks. I don't believe for a minute that the internet will make all the poor people rich overnight, but I think it will improve the quality of their lives and access to essential services in the mid-long term.

          Which is going to help folks in the Third World more ?

          1) Making sarcastic posts and insulting Commentards on the Register.

          2) Trying sticking up for schemes that offer improved communications to the Third World on the Register.

      24. This post has been deleted by its author

      25. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Intelligence!

        You are the idiot, Roo. They already know how to avoid catching it (e.g. don't get bit, drain stagnant waters etc). What is lacking is the resources (e.g. mosquito nets).

        Malaria (which comes in different forms) can be a total bitch to cure, even where the drugs are effective they are too expensive. FYI: people can become immune to some forms of malaria through exposure (although the immunity wanes once there is no more exposure).

        If you don't know anything about a subject, don't talk about said subject.

      26. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        Re: Intelligence!

        You've missed the point a little.

        These people have barely enough food to survive. They also often do not have access to clean water, or enough money to buy medical treatment. While there are centres that offer free food and medical treatment, these are few and far between. Not to mention massively underfunded. The internet is not going to help these people. Not least because they need the equipment to use it. Even though Google are planning to provide the connection, and I should imagine Solar panels would do a good job of providing free leccy, they still need to buy a device to access the internet. These aren't cheap, especially if you don't have enough money for your next meal.

        In theory, you are right in that the internet can help people conduct and grow their business. It can. Provided the right infrastructure is in place. And I do not mean just electricity and comms. At the very least, they'd need a bank account so they could get paid. This would mean there would need a be a banking infrastructure in place, with branches in the villages where the people lived. There would also need to be some sort of delivery network, either for supplies or products (after all, every company requires supplies, whether it produces a product or service).

        Google seems to be presenting their balloon idea as the ideal solution for everything. It's not. In their rush to connect more potential customers to their advertising network, Google appear to have forgotten that compared to the problems these people have getting clean water and food, the internet really isn't that important.

        That's not to say their idea is not a good one. It is, in it's place. That place being at the scene of a major disaster (whether natural or man made) so they can establish communications quickly.

      27. Tom 13

        Re: a few ways I think the Internet can help

        You forgot the most important one:

        If you use the internet you might discover that the most effective way of preventing malaria is to use DDT to eliminate the mosquito threat and that all that noise about DDT was hype. If properly used DDT probably could wipe out malaria before Bill Gates is put in the ground. It is after all how we eliminated it here The States. But politics won't let that happen.

      28. Conor Turton

        Re: Intelligence!

        "0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

        1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance.

        2) You could use the internet to help you find the nearest clinic.

        3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments.


        I've not seen this much ignorance and and detachment from reality posted in four lines for quite a long time. You really do believe the internet is the answer to everything don't you?

      29. arashi01

        Re: Intelligence!

        Funnily enough, the internet wouldn't help with any of the points you mention:

        0) EVERYBODY knows about malaria, and how to avoid catching it. However the bulk of our population live on under 1 USD per day and thus can't afford to pay for the various mosquito control methods available.

        1) EVERYBODY is aware of what symptoms to look for, and the only medical assistance is a dose of a modern anti malarial medicine - as many strains are now resistant to legacy 'single-dose' treatments.

        2) There aren't that many clinics, and those of low means have no choice but to use substandard government built facilities for all healthcare needs - they will KNOW where they are.

        3) See point 0 and 1 and 2.

        With regard to the long game, sure it may be a novel idea; however anybody looking to do business will most likely have access to good, affordable, reliable 3G/4G internet - even in Africa.

        Hate to say it, but in this case Gates may be right, if spending money on charity - at the very least - it should be put in areas where a tangible benefit will be realised.

        NB: Written on a laptop connected via 4G LTE in rural Tanzania - current average speeds are 4Mbit/1Mbit down/up

      30. zb

        Leave it to Al Gore

        I expect he will invent a cure for malaria

      31. ClanMcKinnon

        Re: Intelligence!

        0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

        Seriously!? If you can catch Malaria from the internet then these poor - poor countries really don't want more airborne parasites from google in their mosquito infested airspace

    2. Quxy

      "Not a saint"


      While I sincerely applaud the philanthropic work that BillG has been doing through BMGF for the past 13 years, I still have a bad taste in my mouth about the way he operated for the 25 years before that. Having been personally burned by some of his shady business practices, I'm going to be holding my applause for a while...

      1. Christopher Rogers

        Re: "Not a saint"

        Jobs was as big a crook.

        1. Dick 3

          Re: "Not a saint"

          My guess is that you didn't work in Cupertino.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Thumb Up

          @Chrisopher Rogers

          "Jobs was as big a crook."

          True, and AFAIK spent every penny of his fortune on himself.

          Were he still alive he'd be neck deep in the ebook price fixing charges.

          Thumbs up for the observation, not the man Jobs.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Chrisopher Rogers

            Well said.

            The truly scandalous thing is how he was portayed in the media as some sort of saint by most of the dimwitted sheep who were seduced into believing the image of himself he cultivated.

            Bill G might not have the charisma of Jobs but is 10 times the man.

            1. Tom 13

              Re: but is 10 times the man.

              They're both scum sucking bottom feeders. Brilliant scum sucking bottom feeders, but still scum sucking bottom feeders.

              Near as I can tell the difference is Jobs was an atheist so didn't care about the disposition of his eternal soul while Bill isn't. So now Bill is trying to buy his way into heaven because he knows how many people he screwed over and how badly he did it.

      2. h3

        Re: "Not a saint"

        If he manages to get rid of any of these diseases I will be pretty happy for the thousands of quid he has had from me.

        (Money that I really need certainly in the context of the people who he is trying to help).

        Maybe Gates is the closest thing we have to a modern day Robin Hood.

        (Most of the rest steal from everybody and keep it for themselves. And still have less money than Gates which I find very amusing).

      3. Chris T Almighty

        Re: "Not a saint"

        "Having been personally burned by some of his shady business practices, I'm going to be holding my applause for a while"

        You mean even though he's on a mission that might save MILLIONS of lives, he's still, on balance, a bad guy? Wow...what exactly did he do to you??

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bill Gates makes the ultimate put down, it will be hard to get up from that thrashing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You're right. We must prevent people in developing countries from accessing the internet.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          A twat with a straw man, no less.

          Gates is saying nothing about preventing internet access and everything about prioritising it.

          1. Tom 13

            Re: prioritising it.

            I learned a long time ago that phrase is the progressive bigot's code phrase for preventing them from getting it. Just like unions use the code phrase "living wages" to suppress minority workers.

      2. Nuke
        Thumb Down

        @AC 8th Aug, 20:14

        You could just as well say "When you're dying of malaria, I suppose you'll look up and see adverts for the latest version of Windows, and I'm not sure how it'll help you,"

        If Gates thinks that curing malaria is more important than software and the Internet, why didn't he go and get lost in Darkest Africa in the first place instead of into the software business?

        The fact is that people are best employed doing what they are good at. I believe that health is the most important thing in life, but I am not a doctor because I'd be no good at it. Instead, I solve engineering problems at power stations, because I reckon I am rather good at that.

        By the same token, Google should indeed stick to Googling.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC 8th Aug, 20:14

          I think you'll find money became his enabler and the freedom from Maslow's pyramid his enlightener.

      3. JEDIDIAH

        Bill is his own punchline.

        Bill's putdown only seems effective if you look at the situation in the most superficial way possible.

        Gates is an old man that has retired from business and is now trying to salvage his reputation. What was he like when he was actively building his company? Did he care about the poor people in Africa? Did he even care about making cool products or doing right by his customers?

        No. He was a crass monopolist.

        Retired bill versus current Google twins is not the real comparison to make here.

        What was Gates like in his prime and how does THAT compare to Google?

    4. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Intelligence!

      Why the hell does it have to be one or the other. Malaria needs a vaccine \ cure. That alone will not 'remedy' everything. Ridding Africa of aids, malaria, polio etc is a part of whats needed, an important part but not the whole solution to the whole problem.

      Africa needs food, clean water, an end to needless suffering, an end to ridiculous wars over money \ guns \ gods. To be fair, that kind of thing is an immediate priority. That isn't to say they don't need education, communication etc, a peaceful Africa needs a population that has something to lose beyond its life, when the general population has capital in the game, life is generally more peaceful. I don't like google, but nobody is forcing them to do this. Sure they are after money, but if its part of a bigger answer, it isn't that bad a thing. A few adverts in return for access to global news, education etc? Worse trades have happened.

      Yes Bill is doing great things, yes google is after a new market and money for itself, but there is real benefit for Africans in it.

      1. Phlip

        Re: Intelligence!

        There are plenty of cures for Maleria, and there has been for decades. Doxycycline would be my preference.

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: Intelligence!

          would you rather a vaccine instead? would you rather a vaccine developed by a charity or by a bigpharma company. If Bill can facilitate wiping out malaria, good. If google can bring the internet to people opening up chances for education, communication, work hen good. Why he either or shit, why he my charity work is better than yours crap. You aren't doing it to score treats from Betsy in the library, you are supposed to be doing it to help people.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Intelligence!

            Google a charity - really you reckon - or maybe they want people to have net access to expand their user base and sell more ads?

        2. Triggerfish

          Re: Intelligence! @ Phlip

          Doxycycline is not a cure.

          Its a prophylatic - its works to prevent you from catching it but you have to dose yourself with it all of the time when you are in a malaria infested area, Malarones another one, they can both have pretty bad side effects as well. Can't remember which ones the worst (think its Doxy) but they can be really bad, friend of mine has malaria because they ended up stopping taking the stuff because it was fucking em up so bad whilst they were on it.

        3. Derpity

          Re: Intelligence!

          I think you'll have a hard time finding a cure for "maleria".

        4. Ian Yates

          Re: Intelligence!

          Personally, I'd opt for quinine. Preferably in some kind of liquid form. The flavour's quite bad, though, so I'd have to mix it with something to improve it.


    5. Robinson
      Thumb Down

      Re: Intelligence!

      He's one of those self-satisfied sanctimonious people who's made his stack doing precisely what he thinks other people shouldn't, and now wants to lecture everybody else on how they should do something completely different to what he did to get rich in the first place, like helping the poor.

      I would take him more seriously if he only had a couple of million in the bank because throughout his wealth accumulation days he actually gave it all away to good causes. But no, he's got a big house and a foundation he can use to lecture everybody else.

      So many people like him in the world talking absolute **** it's amazing.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Intelligence!

      Gates is an ass. If he really wanted to help the poor of the world he'd spend his money on lobbying the U.S. government to change its destructive policies that help perpetuate starvation and poverty worldwide (things like the way food aid is handled, or medicines for poor countries). As it is now, cutting the death rate from malaria just results in more people starving.

    7. BrentRBrian

      Re: Intelligence!

      Providing an education may save future generations.

      Providing medicine may save present individuals.


  2. Brian Miller

    When you're dying ...

    When you're dying from getting hacked to bits by a machete, "I'm not sure how it'll help you."

    When you're dying from getting shot dead by an AK-47, "I'm not sure how it'll help you."

    Well, no pill alleviates civil war or genocide, Mr. Gates, and those are also things that are a serious problem in Africa.

    Africa has lots of problems. Pick something, go after it, just like Vim.

    1. dogged

      Re: When you're dying ...

      He did. Malaria.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: He did. Malaria.

        And like fanatics everywhere, he's decided if you aren't on board with exactly his plan, you are not of the body and must be purged.

    2. returnmyjedi

      Rather than doing an Oxfam and flinging money left right and centre and hoping something sticks (after deducting the six figure wages of its execs, natch), Gates is actively trying to help eradicate one of the biggest non-manmade killers in Africa.

      Is this bad somehow? Or do people still have a problem with him because of his Microsoft connections?

      1. Ed Vim

        Well you obviously believe the typical U.S. news media hype on the Gates Foundation along with those impressive numbers that always get touted in the press releases. The world press however, along with several indie news media sources here, are much more adept at reading between the lines. One of the most wasteful aspects to all contracts the Gates Foundation has with companies providing services and meds to African nations is that they are EXCLUSIVE to Big Pharma and a handful of corporate entities. That means only corporations like KBR (forever linked with Haliburton and Team Bush) get to bid on those contracts, and even meds can only be purchased from Big Pharma (Pfizer, Abbott, etc.) as much more economical generics are excluded from the bidding process. Since these companies take relatively huge cuts for their services and products, markups in the hundreds of percentage, the actual dollar amount that ends up as an end result is a lot smaller. So yeah, it's great when Gates is dumping millions into this project and that cause, but this isn't like he's doing this for altruistic reasons, he's making himself and handful of others rich and richer at the expense of those who need help the most, and he's doing it in a deceitful way.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Oxfam don't work like that any more, not for a long time. It's been recognised that flinging money at problems doesn't help them, Oxfam do some big projects, but lots of simple things, like giving a goat to a farmer. The goat eats practically anything, produces manure to fertilise the ground and milk to feed the family. It is also a beast of burden.

        Also, in a multi-million pound operation, you want a credible CEO, charity CEOs are paid peanuts by comparison to public or private sector CEOs. You don't want to pay so little that only volunteers will do the job, as they tend not to be skilled at CEOing.

        1. Getriebe

          @AC - 9:03 - Unfortunatley I reckon they do. Whilst my knowledge is out of date I found them, and then Water Aid to be suffused with distant and hands off managers who had little connection to the work that was going on in the field in Africa. I was trying to do something with casting metal in a rural environ so people could make their own water pumps. I would sooner be trying to push the idea onto Bill Gates foundation than one of these headline charties. Luckily (I think ) the ideas were taken up by locals who could see they could make money for themselves and so propgate the access to water to others

          On the comments about the usefulness of the Internet to inform about malaria and being cut up by machetes - obviously written by cube dwellers and not people who have stood in the dust and heat and the distance

        2. Tom 13

          Charity pay

          Pay in organizations vary. Some nominally charitable organizations pay their staff at rates equivalent to the private sector and except for their tax status are indistinguishable from commercial organizations. Having been involved for extended periods of time with several charitable organizations (including 3 years as paid staff on a reasonably well know one), it's not a question of pay=skill.* It's a problem that most skilled people can't afford to volunteer 20, 40, or 60 hours a week to the organization, even if the position requires it. So if you want someone to work those kinds of hours, you have to re-jigger your organization so it can do so. Then you unexpectedly find yourself on the commercial treadmill and wonder how you got there. So far I haven't been able to puzzle a way out of the conundrum.

          *In fact just this morning I was talking to a coworker about someone (God rest his soul) who was a very lucky find for one of those organizations. He handled our AV and stage management for a convention that grew from 350 people to 35,000. His day job was as a stage manager in New York including a few stints on Broadway plays. He organized everything for us for a few years. One day he came to us and said (more or less) "Guys I love the group and I wish I could stay on in this position. But I ran some numbers last year and it turns out I'm spending more time on this than I am on my real job. And unfortunately I just can't afford it." Recognizing how vital he was to the group we essentially said (in the correctly legal phrasing) "Okay, we understand. How much to keep you on?" And did. (Yes we followed the correct legal open bidding procedures. His proposal was somewhere between one third and half the cost of the next lowest bidder who also knew our show well.)

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: When you're dying ...

      ...says the guy who counts offering discounts on MS Office to poor schools as "charitable giving"... even though OpenOffice and LibreOffice are available for free, and already do everything the students probably need...

      Hey Bill - when people are starving, should they eat your $50 discount coupons?

      Beer - because it goes down well with holographically-printed paper.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: When you're dying ...

        If I run a company and I have products to sell. If someone else makes a free alternative, giving my product away is not a sensible business practice. LibreOffice isn't paying the salaries of tens of thousands of people.

        1. sam bo

          Re: When you're dying ...

          If the country is poor enough, maybe you should play the long game - give it away free in those countries to get the user-base hooked. When prosperity reaches a certain level - start charging a reasonable price.

          As your product is essentially free to reproduce you lose nothing by giving it away to people who could never afford it in the first place and you sew up the market and shut out the competition.

      2. Darryl

        Re: MS Office discounts

        Andy Prough - maybe read up on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill does a lot more than give out coupons for software.

    4. Michael Habel

      Re: When you're dying ...

      Easy peasy. Let the UN act as an arbiter in colonizing those places, and rest control away from these "Overlords". Get the masses to work by importing the Tools necessary to build a decent infrastructural base. i.e Clean Water, Roads, Schools & Houses with working sanitation in them! This alone would spark a massive increase in the overall education of Africa. If every UN Nation just funds a small part of this Op. It probably would make Bill Gates look like the miser he is.

      Sadly no one has either the balls, or sees such a favorable outcome for themselves to do this!

      Plus somehow the Word 'Colonization' has become synonymous with evil.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: When you're dying ...

        You failed in just your first six words.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Malaria? Isn't that Bill's monopoly

    Can see it already, Google announce they'll join the fight to eradicate polio and malaria, Bill&Melissa sue to stop them interfering in their business!

    There are a lot of different problems that need solving, killing a pair of diseases doesn't solve many of them, eradicating every disease on the planet wouldn't fix all of them. Bringing better comms to the world might solve some of them.

    I find it unsurprising this outburst pops up right in the middle of market research polling to find out if enough people think Melissa Gates has paid enough for sainthood and Bill has wiped out the Microsoft stigma.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Malaria? Isn't that Bill's monopoly

      But Google's Balloons are just PR. Google has consistently ignored privacy law and consistently shown they are only interested in selling adverts.

      1. David 164

        Re: Malaria? Isn't that Bill's monopoly

        So the Gates Foundation isn't PR so that he is remembered for something other than running a company that found guilty multiple times of violating antitrust laws?

  4. Decade

    Bill Gates still needs Microsoft

    "But this may be because Gates has taken his money and distanced himself from day-to-day activities at Microsoft, allowing him to run the charity without being conflicted by business goals."

    On the contrary, Bill Gates is trying to hurt Google because Google is bad for Microsoft. His charity is funded mainly by his Microsoft stock, so it's still in his interest to promote Microsoft. I think it's bad form for one charity to criticize another just because it's working on different goals. And the Internet does have a philanthropic effect.

    Greater communication allows greater access to the market. It allows people to make deals with other people at larger distances, thereby finding the best prices for their wares. It frees them from having to sell to the nearest market, which is subject to great price variation.

    With better access to money, people become richer and are better able to afford mosquito counter-measures, which we take for granted in the United States. And that reduces the infection rate of malaria, Bill Gates' pet project.

    Also, there is stuff on the Internet besides LOLcats. Notably, MOOCs.

    1. andreas koch

      @ Decade - Re: Bill Gates still needs Microsoft

      > . . .

      Greater communication allows greater access to the market. It allows people to make deals with other people at larger distances, thereby finding the best prices for their wares. It frees them from having to sell to the nearest market, which is subject to great price variation.

      With better access to money, people become richer and are better able to afford mosquito counter-measures, which we take for granted in the United States. And that reduces the infection rate of malaria, Bill Gates' pet project.

      . . . <

      There is no market, there is no money.

      Your argument seems invalid to me. Sorry.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: There is no market, there is no money.

        Google's work will create the first which will generate the second. Bill's won't.

        Bill is handing them fish. Google is teaching them to fish. Both acts have their place.

        Bill's work is good. The Google work will take longer, but it will be better. That's why whiny Bill came out to bitch slap Google.

      2. Decade

        Re: Bill Gates still needs Microsoft

        "There is no market, there is no money."

        Well, then Google must be excessively evil or stupid to propose this thing. Because there is very little profit in advertising to people who have no money.

        No, greater access to the market gives greater access to money. For example, I chose the shampoo that I currently use because I wanted to experiment with unscented soaps, and the Everyday Shea brand was the cheapest unscented shampoo I could find at my local store. The soap is made using fair trade shea butter from West Africa. Instead of letting the shea nuts rot on the ground while the people scavenge for food, global markets have allowed Africans to harvest the nuts and turn them into boutique soaps for pampered Westerners.

    2. Lusty

      Re: Bill Gates still needs Microsoft

      "His charity is funded mainly by his Microsoft stock" not quite true...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <cynic> Google provide Internet access to expand their market for ads </cynic>

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    With or without Malaria, Africans need to get on. They're not as different to the rest of us as you might think (and they're often a hell of a lot smarter than people in the developed world give them credit for).

    Africans need to start and run businesses. They need jobs to go to, and many of them aren't waiting for charity to come along and help them - they're getting off their arses and doing everything they can to improve their lot. Mobile phones have changed Africa beyond recognition. The internet will ultimately do the same. Yes, they'll still have Malaria (that problem isn't going anywhere soon), but they will also (well, they already do) have a growing middle class.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meanwhile

      AC@19.57 - you patronising twat! Ah, or you could have mis-posted into the forum response on the trolling debate, on which note then - have an up vote.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meanwhile

        Dearest AC@20:25,

        My sincerest apologies for being a patronising twat towards you. In my defence, with this being The Register, it appears I've made some unfortunate assumptions regarding the English comprehension skills of those who read my comments. From here on, I shall communicate in simple pictures in the style of Mr Men characters, starting with Mr. Moron.

        Yours sincerely,


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Meanwhile

          I agree, everyone is on the hate Google train, but nobody seems to be considering whether this connectivity is purely for the public. A friend went to Africa to help build schools with his mum's church. We discussed this at length, and one of the primary problems he said over there was communication between medical centres which for the most part are isolated in villages with few means to liaise with other medical centers.

          Internet connectivity has massive benefits beyond access to social media/email/wikipedia that people seem to be focussing on. e.g. sharing medical records, scheduling and load balancing between centres.

      2. Getriebe

        Re: Meanwhile

        @AC 20:25 - Maybe he came off as patronising - but he is bang on. From direct experience this is exactly how people in the parts of Africa I have been to want to change their circumstances. They are not all starving or hacking each other to death as the news might imply - they are aware of their circumstances (and their history) and want to change. I remember a nurse correcting me about the West's view of birth control being imposed by a charity in her region - her point was that people are an economic force and they needed more to be able to develop the country.

  7. Pypes

    can't see howit will help

    Well maybe you could diagnose yourself with malaria and seek appropreate help, possibly via a video conference with a doctor. Or alternativly look up ways of avoiding getting malaria in the first place, organising a local infrastrucutre project that removes breeding enviroments for mosquitoes.

    Giving people access to the sum total of human knowledge can only be a good thing, Bill gates views are rather short signted IMHO.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: can't see howit will help

      So one rich tech bloke cures diseases, another lot try out tech in the third world, another one is trying out new rockets into space. Seems to be covering a few useful bases, at least.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: can't see howit will help

      It's pretty fucking difficult to use the internet if you can't read or write. You probably don't have enough time to learn to read and write if you are dying from malaria and have to collect fire wood every day, just to survive.

      1. Felonmarmer

        Re: can't see howit will help

        The internet might help in education. Education might help improve peoples lives. It might help pull people up from a survival culture into something better. It might have the same impact on society that the printing press had in Europe.

        Or it might not, but why is it not worth trying? It doesn't stop directly trying to eradicate disease, it may even be complimentary.

    3. hplasm

      Re: can't see howit will help

      Bill gates views are rather short signted IMHO.

      Bill Gates' views have ALWAYS been short sighted; nothing new here.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


        "Bill Gates' views have ALWAYS been short sighted; nothing new here."

        Actually not so. Gates has always had an ability to spot future threats to his company and kill them, possibly before they realized they were a threat.

        Some people would be content to take a share of a market and if it falls say "Well that's life." Gates has wanted all the market, forever.

        That's about as far sighted as they come.

        No I don't like or trust him. But you under estimate him at your peril.

      2. Lusty

        Re: can't see howit will help

        "Bill gates views are rather short signted IMHO.

        Bill Gates' views have ALWAYS been short sighted; nothing new here."

        Weird how he has $70 Billion and you don't then...must just be your bad luck causing you to not be one of the richest guys in the world...yeah that's it....and he's evil yada yada...

  8. William Donelson

    "Don't Be Evil"

    How long did that last, then?

    Hint: Check date of IPO...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Charity mogul Bill Gates"

    Should read: cynical reputation buyer and moral blackmailer Bill "I know it's dirty money, but you have to forgive me because of the starving children" Gates.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle

      than for a rich man to enter heaven

      1. Gannon (J.) Dick
        Thumb Up

        Re: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle

        The Microsoft answer to that is "Patch Sundays".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle

          That must explain why the church has so much dough then and top clergy are so fond of their palaces and expensive clothes.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google don't need to find a cure for Malaria, Bill is doing that himself already.

  11. Anonymous Coward
  12. Why Not?

    Mr & Mrs Gates are Inspirational

    If you saw the Academy Lecture with Bill talking about eradicating Polio you could hardly fail to be moved. The work their foundation is doing on sanitation is huge.

    However I think he is wrong about this.

    There are many things internet access could help with, supplying email, instructions and monitoring to remote areas will have benefits.

    Do I think Google are truly charitable? not sure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mr & Mrs Gates are Inspirational

      People who 'need' Internet access probably already have it - satellite broadband already works and is probably best suited to those people than trying to give wifi to people who probably cannot afford a computer in the first place and whose concern is probably more the risk from the water they are drinking.

  13. Gannon (J.) Dick

    Poor Bill

    The distinction between selling Retail to make a lot of money and selling Wholesale as an act of charity is something only Gates himself understands. It doesn't help very much that everybody would rather have his fortune than his dictionary.

  14. Faceless Man

    Missing the pont, as usual

    What I think Bill, and a number of the commenters above, is missing is that getting connectivity, be it the internet, or even telephony, to the areas that are affected by diseases like malaria and polio will essentially make it easier for the charity organisations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to work out where they need to go, what they need to do, who they need to talk to, as well as enabling them to make those connections and do their charitable work when they get there.

    Yes, curing malaria is more important than getting videos of cats riding Roombas. If Google's plan is just to give everyone in Africa access to YouTube, then they are doing it wrong. Gates should be going to Google and saying "Give my people those balloons, and together we can do some good", but either he still can't look past Google as the enemy, or he still doesn't get the Internet. (Likewise, Google could approach Gates and other charities about using their technology for similar work, and then cynically claim the higher ground.)

    Using the technology to facilitate education, improve local services, and entertain people with cat videos become bonuses on top of improving the health of the people.

  15. jnemesh

    Mr. Gates needs to do some homework!

    What an IDIOTIC comment! Several actually. First off, Google is doing much more than smartphones and internet search. For one, they are pioneering the development of robotic, driverless cars. How many lives will that ONE invention alone save? Hundreds? Thousands? There were 33,808 deaths in the US in 2012 that involved motor vehicles. This will make ALL of us safer.

    The derision he has towards space exploration is especially disturbing to me. Maybe he has forgotten all of the things we enjoy here on Earth thanks to space exploration? You know, the little infrared ear thermometers, artificial limbs, "space" blankets, aircraft anti-icing systems, firefighting technology, water purification.....these technologies have again saved MILLIONS of lives....and each one I listed was invented by NASA.

    Bill is sounding like a pompous ass, filled with his own sense of self importance. I applaud his work with his foundation, but he clearly is clueless in regards to his statements here!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mr. Gates needs to do some homework!


      34K deaths involving motor vehicles in the USA in 2012? OH MY GOD!!!!

      To put your stupidity in to context, you may want to consider that approximately 300 million people worldwide are affected by malaria and between 1 and 1.5 million people die from it every year.

      Unfortunately, they do not live in the US.

      The reason Google is creating a self driving car is so that they can spy on you everywhere you go. They will use the data garnered from your journeys to force adverts on you. I would rather stab myself in the leg than use a google product.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Mr. Gates needs to do some homework!

      "How many lives will that ONE invention alone save? "


      Because most of the people who drive badly enough to die will be of the "God damm it, it's my right to drive my self without a seatbelt and even if I am a bit over the limit" persuasion.

      "You know, the little infrared ear thermometers, artificial limbs, "space" blankets, aircraft anti-icing systems, firefighting technology, water purification....."

      Err, no. NASA may have improved some of those things, but I think you'll find artificial limbs have been around for a while.

      "but he clearly is clueless in regards to his statements here!"

      A comment that could be made of your remarks.

  16. John Deeb

    The Obvious

    Many seem to be missing the obvious: not the patients or civilians would be initially helped by a more reliable and cheaper Internet, but the clinics, travelling doctors and other professionals helping out, the schools to educate the local people, the community leaders to keep themselves informed of the regional situation faster and more accurately, and so on, and so on.

    Of course Bill Gates is still the consumer oriented guy when it comes to his thinking about technology. That's why sysadmins are now stuck with MS Windows in the server room.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Obvious

      Most everything you need to know about the most important health issues affecting the poorest in Africa and how to prevent and treat them can probably be fitted into a slim paperback book.

      No power required, no internet link required.

      And when a effective vaccine is developed (recent news implies they are getting there) it will be delivered by injection by an individual not by wifi.

  17. Lou 2

    And he doesn't get it ...

    If you can uplift the general community, give them and the people helping them access to information you have taken a major step forward.

    Not a good view Bill - you are doing great work, not need to denigrate other people working towards the same thing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And he doesn't get it ...

      "If you can uplift the general community, give them and the people helping them access to information you have taken a major step forward."

      Yeah, but then they won't need Bill. Gates is very happy with the current situation - the poor are poor and he is rich and if they need something then they have to come to him and beg for his munificence (and a government-backed deal with Microsoft to pump up his shareholding's value, not to mention his name stamped on basically everything in sight).

      People actually having their own infrastructure and ownership of the means for information and education to be distributed in their own country is something Gates fought tooth and nail against in the developed world. The only difference now is that he has a much bigger carrot to hold over the people he's dealing with to make sure that they remember that he knows best.

      Words can not begin to express the degree to which I despise this horrible little man and his manipulation of the weak and vulnerable for his own glory and ego.

  18. tempemeaty

    Knowlege is power...

    ...the power to fix your own issues and lift yourself from poverty. By denying a population this you only keep them either dependent or in the dark age and subjugated.

  19. Mark Simon

    Unfair Criticism

    "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," Gates observed. "When a kid gets diarrhea, no, there's no website that relieves that."

    That sort of criticism leveled at Google could just as well be leveled at Microsoft. Google does IT, not medicine. Same with Microsoft, which is Gates’ explanation for why he didn’t do philanthropy earlier.

    Not all Africans are dying of malaria. Some of dying of AIDS which might have benefited from a better education program. Some are getting diarrhea, for which some websites do indeed offer some help.

    There are many different problems in Africa, as with the rest of the world. All contributions are welcome, even if they are not in your pet category.

    As many predicted, Gates’ spending his vast fortune on philanthropy is not without strings. It makes him look like a saint and gives him the chance dig at others.

  20. jnffarrell1

    Neither Gates Nor Putin Can Afford to Pop Low Signature Ballons

    With transponders turned off and accompanied by lots of no-payload decoys, Putin would run out of cold war surplus rockets before Google ran out of balloons. As to Gates, he has better things to spend money on.

  21. Killraven


    Hey Bill, help is help, it's not supposed to be a dick-measuring contest.

  22. Ralph B

    A Pedant Writes

    > "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 you're dying of malaria, I suppose you'll at least be happy you bought that telescope, because without it you won't be seeing that Google Loon balloon.

  23. StarGazer

    Whilst I am delighted that Mr Gates is now sharing his acquired wealth for the greater good of humanity it is clear that his focus now is on this and not on what he did while leading Microsoft, and perhaps he is the wrong person to ask about these matters. Especially as his response was a some what barbed one. I wonder how many poor and dying people he thought about while his corporation was busy churning out new software and paying dividends to share holders in the not too distant past... he could quite easily have been on the end of a similar response from any charity worker at that time as well....

  24. RonWheeler

    Free internet

    Is better than no internet. Google doesn't have to do it so the fact it does is laudable. Bill doesn't have to do his charity stuff either so the fact he does is laudable. Criticism of google by BG on the other hand is a bit of a cheap shot.

  25. johnwerneken

    Bully for Bill

    Bill Gates is said to be as smart as Einstein or Hawking ("IQ 160") and perhaps he is. Being a living man, it makes sense that he prefers philanthropy that may uplift the human condition is his lifetime, which his work fighting disease may well do. In the more tropical and poorer places where malaria is such a threat, the disease environment is probably THE major obstacle to prosperity.

    As to panning Google, little that Google does provides much benefit IMHO. Previous firms offering free search functions, such as AltaVista, were superior to Google at least for anything I use search for (Google does NOT in the slightest implement Boolean logic - one has to inspect the results to ascertain what exactly Google search did with one's input). I have NO USE for anything that is based on the relative popularity of things ("page stank").

    @Roo noted that interconnectedness has its payoff. I agree but I see that as much more likely to be provided by economic and political entrepreneurs (private businesses and politicians), neither of whom tends to pursue public health unless forced to do so.

    But I think that after Gates and I are gone humanity will benefit greatly if by that time we have a sustained off-Earth presence. The beyond-Earth universe simply has too much to learn and too much to offer for us to not give space exploration a high priority.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Gates made/makes millions from a company tried and found guilty of doing bad things. Things he personally can be pointed at over.

    He now runs a charity and uses that position to criticize a major rival of his company, comparing his charity work with the charity work of that company. Guess what, a charity done by a charity wins. Lets compare the charity work of MS against the charity work of Google. If any of the Google founders set up a pure charity, only that can be fairly compared to Gates Foundation.

    He is doing this to try and make Google look bad against MS, because he knows that many will confuse the work of the Gates Foundation with MS. I'm not quite cinical enough to beleive the whole point of the Gates Foundation is this kind of thing, but I'm cinical enough to beleive Gates is trying to redeam/justify himself in someway. Regardless if it's to himself, others, or some god(s) he found, I don't care. He is damned to me unless he publically recantes some of the vile things he's done/said. This kind of action damns him further to me. Gates is going down in the history books as a monoplist billionair. I'm yet to see that the Gates Foundation will be much more than a foot note offering a small amount of redemption.

    Google are increasingly a bunch of bastards too. But MS, and Gates (and Ballmer) trail blazed the evil tech giant to new levels. Google's "don't be evil" was a response to exactly this, though as I said, that is increasingly looking hollow. But they still have a way to go before they are MS.

    I wonder if this is Gates template:

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, but they're a tech company, not an individual looking to improve his image.

  28. SEDT

    Is Bill being a sour puss?

    Bill Gates is undoubtedly doing a great thing with his money and influence, but is it appropiate to use this to knock his competition.

    Whatevery Google are doing with their baloons and connectivity is not harming anyone, and it may in time help these people.

  29. tempemeaty

    Another thing occurs to me

    It's not uncommon to bad mouth another company to make them look bad when your own company is sucking poo.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bill Gates has done a great thing, he ripped off the first world for years, made lots of money and he is now spending that money attempting to improve the lives in the third world.

  31. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Gates money vs Google money. Not the same thing.

    Bill Gates is donating his own wealth to solve health problems in the third world. Good for him. But that's his personal wealth, not assets of Microsoft. If Googles' shareholders wish to do the same, great. But the company has a mission. That is: To make shareholders like me wealthy. So that I might take some of that wealth and do good works with it.

    Companies and NGOs need to stick to what they do well. And let the investors allocate resources as they see fit.

  32. Tom 7

    My only experience of the Foundation

    is a very generous donation of PC's and free MS software. When I say free software the licences were not in perpetuity and upgrades would have to be paid for, providing a positive return on the investment for MS in less than 5 or 6 years. And I guess BG himself in a few more after that.

    I'm not saying he's not trying to be good but his partnerships with some companies make him look like he's just using the foundation as a conduit for US products under the guise of charity.

    Melinda looks more like the real deal one womens issues - the only real way to reduce proverty in the long run.

    As for the mosquito nets - mass produced they should cost less than $1. Why doesnt everyone who needs on have one - and a spare one for fishing?

  33. R.P.Charlie

    Seems that Gates forgot something

    most important in the fight against malaria.

    Thanks to Rachel Carson's pseudo scientific "Silent Spring" DDT was banned from the fight against the mosquito.

    Millions have died, and what people don't realise is the suffering that tormented those souls during their battle to live.

    Seems that DDT is not as bad as was made out.

    The mosquito has to be battled because it doesn't just bite a sleeping person.

    Seems for those Africans to avail themselves of Billy goat Gates' nets they would have to go around their chores, especially at night, draped in them.

    The mosquitoes are not programmed to specific hours but maybe they are less attracted to designer BSD nets?

  34. IGnatius T Foobar

    Bill Gates is evil.

    This isn't even worth publishing. A robber baron who made his money monopolizing the tech world is getting all sour grapes criticizing the company that is rapidly replacing his as the new leader. Gates is an evil, evil, evil man. And the fact that he is now a "philanthropist" does not legitimize the decades of lying, cheating, stealing, screwing people over, and ruining other peoples' lives that got him the money he's now "donating" to charity.

    Let's face it: Gates is only one more person in history's list of robber barons, like Carnegie and Rockefeller, who want to leave a legacy other than that of the destruction they spent *most* of their lives wreaking.

    Gates has no business criticizing Google.

  35. Dick Pountain

    In summary then, let's provide wider cheaper internet access AND a cure for malaria AND let's all give up competitive moralising in online forums.

  36. E 2


    1. AFAIK people don't much die from malaria.

    2. M$ under Gates tried and failed to take over the internet. This is just Gates' sour grapes.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Specifous

      The world health organisation has said about one child per minute.

      nuff said.

  37. billgatz


    What was the real cost to the world's economy of Gatz's crime? For each dollar he stole, thousands were lost by each of his customers. I'm guessing 5 cents on every pint of milk, 10% on every contract. Gatz & Co doesn't have the money to pay for the damage it has done. Probably adds up to more than 2000 deaths a day.

    He's like a robber who repeatedly steals $100, burns $99, and pockets $1. Finally, when everyone with a brain hates him, he gives 1 cent of each stolen dollar to his eponymous vanity project and tells everyone smugly what a generous genius he is.

    There's only one way to reward this scale of hypocrite con-man. A Nobel prize beckons.

    I don't know how he has the gall.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quite frankly the naive and frankly outdated racist views being purveyed on this forum is staggering.

    The Internet is a communication medium.

    Anyone who doesn't think that communication in these places isn't absolutely crucial to the future of communities in remote and poorly served places really needs a reality check.

    Firstly, not all people in Africa are close to starvation. Many are, but many are actually getting themselves organised and are seeing a future for themselves.

    Malaria is a big problem and a lot of people are working on it. Huge sums of money are being ploughed into the problem of malaria. It is amply catered for.

    But it is rank idiocy to assume that the people of Africa don't have a myriad of issues that all need to be addressed, particularly ones that have economic significance. They need communication and education. Communication also brings with it news of the outside world, and local government. A lot of corruption goes unhindered there because of the vastness of the place and the lack of accountability through lack of awareness and communication. Just look at the situation here in the western world. Hardly a politician sneezes without everyone knowing about it.

    I for one applaud Google and the Gates foundation for doing their bit to make the world a better place, but for Gates to come out and criticise someone for an initiative that he doesn't align with just shows what a dick he is.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gates is yapping about symptoms of Gluttony, and is a GMO and Vaccine pusher.

    Gates is a waste of wealth and space; a charity troll.

    Some twits seem to be missing that much internet use in the 3rd world is by mobile, not bulky, power hungry and expensive PCs or tablets. A mobile can be cheaper, a lot more mobile, and is also a lot easier to power, especially in a sunny country.

    Money is not what is important, it is availability and access to critical resources, and the knowledge of how best to use these which allow people to live, and these resources must become mostly collected or funded locally, not drip fed drug-dealer style, by effectively evil charities.

    The most important resource is clean water; is there enough regularly replenished water for the current population? i.e. no drilling too many wells to progressive drain ancient aquifers until they are empty!

    If there isn't; the population is too large and needs to reduce to a viable size, so just helping more people to live now without addressing resource limitations will cause far worse famine in the future!

    What needs to happen is education for: better strategy, hygiene, water capture and storage, food production and storage, natural disease prevention and cures, and the plain hard truth that mothers need to limit the number of children to the available resources, rather than stupidly trying to out-breed famine mortality.

    Please don't push vaccines, the science is looking increasingly dubious for these (historical hoax?) because vaccine use often trailed better hygiene, water, food, and waste disposal, thus less disease, by a significant time distance. Artificially gene spliced crops are definitely not a sensible solution either, for any country, because they are more expensive that uncorrupted crops, less productive, a more vulnerable monoculture, and often toxic!

    It really is quite disgusting that people like Bill Gates can amass Billions that they can blithely spent it on 'charity' to those they think need 'pulling up'; this goes far beyond sensible reward, it is a corporatist culture of obscene resource gluttony, and bogus charity marketing.

  40. john devoy

    Gates does a lot of good stuff now but I don't remember him being so philanthropic while he was busy running MS and making his fortune. Maybe when the Google people retire they'll do the same as Gates.

  41. HippyFreetard

    I think they go hand in hand, to be honest. Improved communication infrastructures are helpful to aid agencies.

    In the end, though, it's the old give-a-man-a-fish thing. Yes, mosquito nets are good, medicines are good, but over long term, education is a powerful weapon against poverty. The OLPC and Raspberry Pi projects are laudable (even though the OLPC was mismanaged into vapourware - nice thought though) and have the potential to be incredibly effective.

    Using a connected computer, you'd have access to everything from CBeebies to Youtube. Using Wikipedia, Open University, Khan Academy etc, you could learn how to use Freelancer websites, or Kickstarter to make money for clean water projects and medicine - independently of any charity except a computer and connection. But of course, you have to not die of malaria, hunger, or some horrible penis parasite or eyeball worm in the process.

    So both projects should be given the thumbs up by each other.

  42. Vociferous

    It's hard to believe that this guy used to be the Antichrist.

  43. Colin Bain

    Great for Bill re polio, but it was a project orgnised by Rotary, before he joined in, and had completed over 85% of the task.

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