back to article 'It's a joke!' ... Bill Gates slams Mark Zuckerberg's web-for-the-poor dream

Microsoft mogul turned global healer Bill Gates has had some harsh words for Mark Zuckerberg's plan to improve humanity's lot by expanding internet access into the developing world. In August, Facebook supremo Zuckerberg published an extended screed [PDF] online in which he described the need to get everyone in the world …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Don Jefe

    He's Right

    Computers aren't really important on the grand scale of things. In fact, it is sad that people think they are.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He's Right

      Neither do the poor need a free mobile Obama phone.

      1. FrankAlphaXII

        Re: He's Right

        Obvious troll is obvious.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He's Right

        Apples and oranges. Obama phones can be (and are) sold to buy drugs. Try selling internet access that is free.

      3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: He's Right

        Actually they are Reagan phones.

        Try some history channel instead of fox

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: He's Right

          Reagan was president in the 80's, GSM and CDMA didn't come along until the 90's. Yes, there were AMPS phones around in the mid-80's, but the US Government wasn't handing any out. So, try some REALITY as opposed to getting your information from some talking head on the boob tube.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: He's Right

          Working landlines are very different from mobile Obama phones. Try news stations instead of lunatic left echo chambers.

    2. lightknight

      Re: He's Right

      Bob, computers do a lot of heavy lifting. The Internet, in all of its glory, is a resource that, when not poisoned by get rich quick scam artists, provides a wealth of information.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @lightknight: Point missed entirely

        "Bob, computers do a lot of heavy lifting. The Internet, in all of its glory, is a resource that, when not poisoned by get rich quick scam artists, provides a wealth of information."

        And Mr. Gates' position is that information does not move food to feed the hungry. Information does not inject the sufferer of polio with a liquid vaccine. Information does not create the means to clean up a dirty water supply. Information does not save a family running from a genocidal civil war.

        Get your realities in check and come back when you've gotten the point of Gates' philosophy. You are living a first-world life and thinking that your concerns will solve third-world problems.

        Hmmm. Strange. That's exactly Bill Gates' statement in the closing piece of this article.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Bill is right and wrong at the same time

          He is RIGHT that basic needs trumps internet access. NO ONE can realistically argue that malaria and polio cures are more important than getting online.

          He is WRONG if he thinks that most of the 3rd world who aren't online are all starving african children.

          As a 1st world citizen. Net access is up there with electricity and water. For me, this is a fact, and people can benefit from net access. Who hasn't looked up medical conditions online?

          End of story - for me.

    3. Tom 7

      Re: He's Right

      Only if you put his OS on them!

    4. Lars Silver badge

      Re: He's Right

      What the hell, those discussions are always silly. If I can provide shoos for African children then why would I not do it although I know there is more severe demand for food and fresh water. Let Bill provide what he wants and let Mark provide what he wants to provide. Perhaps I am unfair but I believe Bill is out for a profit in a higher degree than Mark.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: He's Right

        Yep. Bill Gates stands to make a fortune selling ridiculously overpriced pharmaceuticals to impoverished 3rd world nations. As soon as those people are free from the shackles of malaria they'll jump on the MS train and be the foundation for the next high growth OS market.

        That's a great idea and it is simply amazing nobody ever tried selling advanced technology to starving illiterate pre plumbing and electricity societies before! Those people must be fucking loaded, they don't spend their money on anything! Look, that one won't even buy food for his family!

        Just think, all this time there were untapped markets for office productivity software and operating systems in those wattle hut villages. Man, Bill Gates sure is a smart businessman.

        1. Gannon (J.) Dick

          Re: He's Right

          Stop it right now, Jefe. It's a laptop and I've about pounded through to the CPU.

      2. NogginTheNog

        Re: He's Right

        Because, well call me a cynic, but Bill's proposed actions won't benefit him or his ex-company, other than perhaps polishing their images a little. But Google or Facebook giving the poor of the world access to the Internet, well isn't that, or can't it be seen as, about them expanding their potential customer base?

        1. JamesTQuirk

          Re: He's Right

          @ NogginTheNog

          I dont think your a cynic, in fact its all about "bums on IP's", for the "services" & "Social Networks" you use just talk to...

          "But Google or Facebook giving the poor of the world access to the Internet, well isn't that, or can't it be seen as, about them expanding their potential customer base?"

          You mean the Secondary Internet ?, The internet you have to sign up to, again, to get some info from it

          Seagate, Recently spent a email from support about their ASKSAM online support, its facebook, I can't use it, cause will not join Facebook, so If i need support for this 4tb drive, I can't use automated support, why is not a feature on website, no it's farmed off to Facebook, so they can advertise to you ....

          (disapointed seagate, still got working ST506 drives here, I know your support was always good)

          I don't understand when most people used MSN & Yahoo, IRC etc all free methods of communication & social Networks, where they couldn't share your data, and now where they can DATA-Mine it & target you for advertising to suck you in, everybody joins it .......

        2. Richard Plinston

          Re: He's Right

          > Bill's proposed actions won't benefit him

          Yes it will. Bill holds substantial quantities of pharmaceutical shares. By giving away samples he ties this in with local government support for buying products from his companies to continue the treatments, or at least not allowing the cheap unlicensed copies of those drugs.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Both views are right

      Anti-malarial vaccines will wipe a great scourge from the world, one that has caused endless pain, suffering and agonizing early death to untold millions throughout history.

      Free access to global communication would allow all people the potential (note that I said "potential" here, instead of "ability") to iimprove literacy, to freely report on abuses of power, and to become involved in self-governing. This has the potential to end (or significantly hinder) the wielding of brutal, tyrannical power which has caused endless pain, suffering and agonizing early death to untold millions throughout history.

      Both are worthy goals.

      1. Interested_Observer

        Re: Both views are right

        Given the global snooping of the US Government, and the evident failure of ANYONE to be able to stop it, I can't really concur with your dream of the internet being able to have any real impact on Tyranny. But I'd love to see you prove me wrong. The best place to start would be the good ole U S of A.

    6. h3

      Re: He's Right

      Thing about the grand scale is another issue is the one of too many people.

      Good thing about no internet is no NSA / GCHQ spying. (Just CIA being indistinguishable from the real bad people you want to avoid anyway.)

      Gates is doing far better than nearly all politicians when it comes to actually getting stuff done.

      1. JamesTQuirk

        Re: He's Right

        I have watched the adventures of young William for a while, while I installed CPM systems, someone Disassembled it, Amiga dies its chipset features becomes MMX (the mouse still dont work right), Windows 2.0, Windows ME, 2000, maybe it's because sometimes my eyes get this blue mist in front of them, but it seems I digress, I think Bill's doing good with his foundation ALL power to it, Some good in PC industry is a hard find, sometimes ....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Communication, education through distance learning: these are the things that only the western world really needs.


    What's the point of surviving malaria if you can't benefit from the technology that the world can offer to improve the lot of people in the middle of nowhere?

    Malaria is a big problem, but Bill Gates has a severe case of short-sightedness.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Internet access as an incentive to recover from malaria. That's some deep thinking right there.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Malaria is a big problem, but Bill Gates has a severe case of short-sightedness.

      No, merely a somewhat short memory. After all, this is the same guy that ran the company that baited schools with cheap software, and then dramatically upped the price once they were locked in. I cannot recall any IT guys at the time that didn't see that one coming a mile off, but, naturally, nobody was listening.

      If you want to play with emotional statements, one could state that quite a lot of the money he's playing the hero with was stolen from school kids.

      That does, of course, not mean he isn't right with dissing the relative importance of one item to another, but let's not forget that BG's capital started with exactly the same BS as Zuckerbergs. Zuck just hasn't finished playing with the cash yet, so there's as yet no way to compare.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @AC 00:38

        "After all, this is the same guy that ran the company that baited schools with cheap software, and then dramatically upped the price once they were locked in."

        Uh, AC, I think you'll find that that was Steve Jobs, not Bill Gates.

        "Zuck just hasn't finished playing with the cash yet"

        zuck has very little cash, just a lot of paper. If he tries to cash out, the paper becomes valueless. Bill's money is real. Not that I use any products associated with either of them, of course.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: @AC 00:38

          Yep. Apple only survived the 80's, 90's and early 2000's because of their 'special terms' for educational institutions and students.

          Most schools couldn't afford computers so Apple stepped in to politely overcharge for the pleasure of using their products to teach students things that at the time didn't translate into most career paths. It did ultimately pay off with the 'Apple is for Creative People' campaign which is wonderfully funny because it is just a minor modification of their campaign for schools that used to be 'Apple is for Creative Students'; I still have the literature package they gave school board members.

          Apple make fine products, but it is flat wrong to think that Apple ever acted with any less aggression than MS or Oracle or SAP. It's the way the big software business game has always been played. It's only very recently that interoperability, data portability and FOSS has been seriously tried as a competing business model and the argument still isn't settled on whether people prefer to pay or be analyzed and sold to advert companies.

        2. Tom 7

          Re: @AC 00:38 @jake

          I'm only closely aware of one project funded by the 'Foundation' and that involved thousands of cheap PC's with windows office installed in africa. The free gift didn't extend to upgrades and so, to my eyes, was more of a revenue stream generator than a real donation.

          The foundations pictures of the net manufacturing site makes me wonder if more has been spent on the site than wages and figures I've seen for the cost of the nets are a bit baffling.

          It may be that one shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth but when its as cavernous and voracious as Gates when I do I see some very dodgy teeth.

          1. Lars Silver badge

            Re: @AC 00:38 @jake

            "It may be that one shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth", Yes, and I sometimes agree regarding the result but it is still a rather cynic sentence and there is no way that the guy who coined that was not aware of the fact that sometimes there are very good reasons to look at the gift. "Candy for children" and so forth.

            I have no claims, what so ever, regarding anybodies use of his wealth, and that applies to Gates too. But when, for instance, libraries around the world are given money, the one teeth in the mouth of the horse is that that money has to be used on Windows. And while Gates is doing good work on malaria vaccine in Africa, and that is fine, then one should also remember that when he pulls out money from his right pocket some, perhaps more, will turn up in his left pocket, because he invests in the companies selling the stuff in Africa.

            Now Gates has never claimed to be some Jesus (that title was given to Jobs) but if he was really involved he would build that pharmacy industry in Africa, skip, and give a shit, about patents and hand it out for free. I know he is not Santa Claus either and nobody has any right to demand it of him, still the intelligent and obvious response to "shouldn't look" is "should look" too. Just ask any kid.

      2. Tromos

        @AC 00:38

        In mitigation to the "money ... stolen from school kids", I would have to point out that some of these would have gone on and earned significantly more as a result of knowing a little bit about his [soft]wares. Whatever Zuck ends up doing with his cash, there is nothing positive that can be said about the crap he is peddling.

      3. jubtastic1
        Thumb Up

        The thing about Gates

        Is that love him or hate him, no matter how you cut it he's Robin Bloody Hood.

        Set up a monopoly that screwed pretty much everyone in the first world, and gave (is giving) the proceeds to the third world.

        Robbed your local school for thousands of dollars? why that's raised your taxes, that's probably a cheap burger he's stolen from your belly, and the fucker just pissed it all away vaccinating orphans what a cunt.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The thing about Gates

          "Is that love him or hate him, no matter how you cut it he's Robin Bloody Hood."

          Not really. Robin Hood stole from the rich, Gates stole from everyone and anyone and now he's using the cash to buy himself a reputation as some sort of saint (while making sure his stocks and shares are kept high, of course). Give me back the money he stole from me, and I'LL decide which charity to give it to, thanks.

          1. cambsukguy

            Re: The thing about Gates

            Yeah, the American way... We don't need no steenkin' government, just let me keep all my money and I will spend it the way I see fit.

            Except, the US has an huge military, a free education system and even, shock horror, a last-resort health system. They also have Federally insured banks, flood prevention, the National Guard, the EPA, the CDC, the FDA (no Thalidimide in the USA thanks to them).

            Individuals are generally utterly selfish bastards wen it comes to spending their money, Europeans generally know this, the further north you go the more obvious it is. But even Americans (well, a reasonable proportion of them) think the government needs to do some stuff.

            BG is attacking problems western governments are unwilling to face and side-stepped past them if necessary,working with NGOs and similar organisations to try and overcome difficult or intractable issues.

            I, for one am glad he stole your money, he is definitely using better than you would have. I also think all the windows licences I have bought with my hard-earned over the many, many years were not that bad value, certainly cheaper than paying for Apple kit and certainly worth the effort to avoid Linux (which I use a lot professionally and yes, I know it is a reliable OS, blah, blah, blah).

            1. Don Jefe

              Re: The thing about Gates

              The US had a free education system? What the fuck? Not this US pal.

              The government provides daycare for those aged 4-18ish but after that it's on you (or your parents) to borrow the money to go to college. While you're there, assuming you study, you might learn the basic math and science kids in European grammar school learn. After that you can do some graduate work and know almost as much as a high school graduate from Europe. Once you cross into PhD territory in the sciences you're actually starting to learn, but then you're in your late 20's, haven't started working yet (because your course load was too demanding!!!) and you've got your first six figure debt. Dumb and Debt, that's living the American Dream!

      4. cambsukguy

        It would be nice if BG could do one of his 'lunches' with MZ, like he did with Warren Buffet. This might convert MZ into someone who zealously attacks something like contraception, overpopulation (I know, sometimes the same thing) rather than "The next billion fb users".

        Speaking to people who have had Malaria three or more times, it is hard to imagine how tough it makes their lives, people are affected for their entire life by debilitating diseases, they can affect mental capabilities as well as making people physically weaker and shorter-lived.

        Helping more people lead longer, healthier lives in the developing world doesn't worsen the population problem, it improves it, along with a better GDP etc. from fewer resources being used to support people who are would otherwise be able to contribute.

        Successful eradication of Polio in the face of people hell-bent on preventing it would be a huge accomplishment, obviously with the aid of others but a significant contribution none-the-less.

        It would be deserving of a Nobel even, possibly the Peace prize. Obama could then hand him a Medal of Freedom, which would make BG blush I imagine.

        Why people would revere Jobs for 'inventing amazing devices' staggers me and revering people solely because they made astounding amounts of money makes me shudder.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      skelband: "Malaria is a big problem, but Bill Gates has a severe case of short-sightedness."

      Dude, if you really think it through, you'll withdraw your post. You just revealed WAY too much about your life experiences.

      For Christ's sake, what the hell is up with these FaceB0rK users?

      1. Oh Homer

        Gates is burning a straw man

        The potential for education via connectivity isn't a substitute for aid, nor is it meant to be, but it is necessary, in the same sense that teaching a starving man to fish is just as necessary as giving him a fish.

        If all you ever do is give him fish, then yes you'll keep him alive ... much like cattle are kept alive by a farmer.

        Not that one is likely to learn much from Farcebook, but that's just the gimmick. The real benefit is what lies beyond Farcebook - the potential facilitated by this gimmick.

        1. Nuke

          Re: Gates is burning a straw man

          Oh Homer wrote :- "The potential for education via connectivity ... is necessary, in the same sense that teaching a starving man to fish is just as necessary as giving him a fish."

          Quite right. Like when I was two I got a serious illness. I waved away doctors and medicines and instead I hired educators to teach me medicine and pharmecology. Meanwhile my parents learned how to build a plant to make the serums I had been taught I needed, which they did under my learned direction. Good job it was done in the nick of time for me, but so much better to teach a baby how to make medicine than to give it to him.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Gates is burning a straw man

            "Like when I was two I got a serious illness. I waved away doctors and medicines and instead I hired educators to teach me medicine and pharmecology. Meanwhile my parents learned how to build a plant to make the serums I had been taught I needed, which they did under my learned direction. Good job it was done in the nick of time for me, but so much better to teach a baby how to make medicine than to give it to him."

            The hole in your sarcasm is that the educated doctors and the medicines they use are the result of your country being part of the high-maintenance high-tech world you live in. Gates wants that world to stay where it is, and have 2-year-olds like you simply hope that some nice monopolist somewhere has donated the required materials, or for your country to pay to import them rather than for them to be able to stand on their own feet and be independent. Which, if you think about it, has been his attitude all his life - the rich are in charge and everyone else should be kept in their place and learn to like it.

        2. Robert Grant

          Re: Gates is burning a straw man

          This isn't a give a man a fish situation. Malaria and polio are things you cure, one person at a time. You can't teach them the cure and get them to teach others.

          Having said that, I know what you mean. Technology and medicine aren't mutually exclusive. Except in the case of charity, where there's a finite amount of money being allocated to charitable causes, it in practice is a choice between internet or real needs. What you spend money on removes options, because you could've spent it on something else. So for all intents and purposes it is a substitute for aid.

          (Then you would generally move on to the "well it's his money, can't he spend it how he likes?" "argument", which is nothing to do with your previous point but makes you feel better. Don't do it!)

      2. JamesTQuirk

        @ MyBackDoor

        "For Christ's sake, what the hell is up with these FaceB0rK users?"

        That’s what Mark wants to fix, next time there’s a Rwanda Massacre, Ethiopian famine or A tidal wave etc, it will all on Facebook etc, you can feel machetes fall, Waves crushing families in real time ....

        When we are desensitised from it all, the world will be a better place .....

    4. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Errrrr yeah. Really?

      "I don't have internet - I may as well die of malaria"

      Hash - First -World-Problems

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You've got it the wrong way round: What's the point of being able to do a google search for anything you want or update your facebook status when you've not got any electricity and you're dead from malaria.

      The dream is to have people vaccinated against malaria, hiv and the many other nasty killers, then have them able to increase their income and education by having things as simple as solar powered lights enabling them to work in darkness when daily chores are finished. If you think these people have laptops just waiting for the Internet you've got a very skewed view of poverty.

    6. JDX Gold badge

      What's the point of surviving malaria if you can't benefit from technology

      Well all the developed countries got to that position without the internet, so I'll wager if we cure malaria et al, it is possible to then provide education even without GoogleBalloons.

  3. Bladeforce

    Nothing new here, Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs..all criminals that have screwed every person over for the sake of $$ move along

    1. Don Jefe

      Just out of curiosity, what exactly did Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg say or do to force you to buy or use their products? I've met Bill Gates several times and he isn't exactly intimidating, and while I never met Steve Jobs, he wasn't exactly a tough guy either; just caustic I gather.

      There have been other options around for years, the thing is that it just isn't a big enough deal for most people to care about migrating to them. It is a good example of how, as this article notes, those outside the IT community don't really care about how/why their tools and toys run.

      1. Tim Parker

        "Just out of curiosity, what exactly did Bill Gates [...] say or do to force you to buy or use their products?"

        You have an interesting lack of understanding how monopolies work. Microsoft weren't the first, they won't be the last and they certainly won't be the nastiest - doesn't make them angels however. That said, at least Gates, unlike most other of his peers, and the Foundation (although not without its issues) is actually doing something useful with our money.

        1. Don Jefe

          I was being a bit facetious. The article and discussion is about the true value of technology in society. Food is taken from those in 3rd world countries by force. People aren't forced to buy any technology, they do it for economic advantage.

          I'm well aware that big businesses act like dicks and take advantage of people's greed, but again, not a problem outside wealthy countries. I just felt the earlier posters comment wasn't very realistic.

  4. Graham Marsden

    I'm Bill Gates...

    ... and only *I* know the solution for mankind's ills!

    Yes, dealing with Malaria is a Good Thing(tm) but giving people access to information and education is, incredibly enough *also* a Good Thing(tm)!

    The two are not mutually exclusive, Bill.

    1. Rafael L

      Re: I'm Bill Gates...

      But money isn't infinite, you have to pick one.

      1. lightknight

        Re: I'm Bill Gates...

        I think he is. He does spend a week or so a year, at a lodge on his property, reviewing ideas.

      2. John Bailey

        Re: I'm Bill Gates...

        "But money isn't infinite, you have to pick one."

        No we don't.

      3. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: I'm Bill Gates...

        I don't agree. Look at China, an example of a country that has done a pretty good job of reducing poverty. Don't you think the fact that people are able to make things and list them for sale on Ali-Baba and EBay might possibly have helped in someway towards reducing poverty?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm Bill Gates...

      Ironic icon there sport. No, they aren't mutually exclusive but neither are they equally important. Bg's diss was because suckerburg said bringing innanet to the poor was the most important thing in the world - only someone who never went hungry, or never sat helplessly watching a child die would think that.

      1. Oh Homer

        Re: "helplessly watching a child die"

        That child is dying because it, and everyone else in its country, is living in poverty. The only cure for that poverty is self-sufficiency. The only way to become self-sufficient is through education. Provide education, by any means possible, and save the children.

        Or just continue perpetuating the problem, by throwing bags of rice and pills at these people, thus perpetuating their ignorance and dependence on aid, and killing those not lucky enough to receive any.

        Although it's important to note that the above two solutions are not mutually exclusive.

        1. FrankAlphaXII

          Re: "helplessly watching a child die"

          While I agree with the content of your post, it doesn't change the fact that Zuckerberg and Google only want to provide access to the Internet to mine data from the very poor and make a buck from it. There's nothing philanthropic about it at all whatsoever. In that regard I also agree with Bill Gates, treating preventable disease and creating vaccines for diseases like Malaria and some other rather nasty diseases endemic to the least developed nations in the world is a damn sight better than some pie in the sky global connectivity bullshit from Facebook or Google.

          For example when I was in Afghanistan we would go out with the Special Forces, Combat Support Hospital Soldiers and Doctors, and Civil Affairs to do MEDCAPs (Medical Civic Action Programs) every so often. Every single kid and most of the adults had intestinal parasites robbing them of what little nutrition they got. Every single one of them, and I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not. We handed out worm pills like candy everywhere that there was a population. And it was extremely fucking sad, all it would take is a little bit of education about how people get infected with them and some basic water and food sanitation to change that and make these people a hell of a lot healthier. But no, there's no money to be made doing that. So nothing changed and I'd be willing to bet that all of these people still have the same rates of preventable parasitism/disease as when I was there and will continue to suffer from it long after ISAF, the UN, and USAID leave because noone's teaching them, and when they do try to teach them, they approach it completely wrong by not utilizing local solutions and appealing to their culture/religion/economic reality because it might piss off some contractor back in Flagpole on the Beltway, or some NGO or International Organization which thinks they know what they're doing in New York, London, Nairobi, or Geneva.

          I'd be more enthusiastic if it was a non-profit trying to do something like this utilizing technology that already exists in these places, like packet radio and/or purchasing and devoting an older telecom satellite and building low cost up and downlinks from surplus or off-the shelf parts to provide low speed internet access for free to the impoverished for the sole purpose of education. The sad part is that it could be done, but there's no money to be made in teaching someone how to create a better future for themselves. So instead we get organizations like Google and Facebook, giant for-profit advertising companies, claiming they want to do this for education.

          The worst part is that Its a load of crap, yet people will buy into it and believe what they're doing is groundbreaking.

          1. Oh Homer

            Re: "nothing philanthropic about it"

            There's nothing philanthropic about Zuckerberg's motives, but that doesn't mean the result cannot be capitalised on by others to achieve philanthropic goals.

            It's an opportunity that might not otherwise have existed. That's all.

          2. Lapun Mankimasta

            watching Mum feed a child sick with diarrhoeia "salt water" Re: "helplessly watching a child die"

            I agree with you. It's systemic and thus endemic. It's not something that can be foisted on a people - they have to want it themselves - and you can't "make" people "want" something they have no idea about.

            One of the most interesting things I read some time ago about information transfer and changing values, was about Brazil's population growth problems, cheap TVs and soap operas - apparently the birth rate became manageable once TVs became a normal part of favela life and people were able to see how much better life could be given the use of birth control as portrayed in Brazil's equivalents of Coronation Street and other mental rot-gut.

            One cautionary tale I also read about access to the things without information to information on how to use it, was a rather bizarre tale about birth control people doing the rounds in the Thai hinterland, where people are as you might expect, rather conservative, and the birth control people didn't want to offend anybody by showing them exactly where condoms fitted on the male's body - so they put them on the index finger ... they came around a few years later, found the birth rate was exactly what it had been before they went through the first time, and men were still putting them on their fingers ... plus you have all the horror stories about rural Papua Niuginians being given a bottle of pills and told to take one a day for four weeks, and thinking if one a day for so long works, how about the whole bottle at once?

            I think access to medicine _must_ be paralleled by access to information, or we leave the situation in a state worse than what we found it.

        2. Chris G

          Re: "helplessly watching a child die"

          Homer, Apparently lot of populations could do with a little help to become self sufficient and many of them are in internet rich environments:

          "In November 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau said more than 16% of the population lived in poverty in the United States, including almost 20% of American children,[7] up from 14.3% (approximately 43.6 million) in 2009 and to its highest level since 1993. In 2008, 13.2% (39.8 million) Americans lived in poverty.[8] California has a poverty rate of 23.5%, the highest of any state in the country.[9]"

          Courtesy of Widdlypaedia.

          Sustained education on the ground is arguably more effective than just spending millions or billions on providing the connectivity and then letting them get on with it, what are they going to do without guidance, play games while they are dying of malaria or starving to death?

          These ideas are just marketing spin made by people who understand nothing and don't give a shit!

          1. Oh Homer

            Re: The US is well connected yet still has many poor people

            Welfare in the US is a mess. Many people who qualify as "poor" use their welfare money to sell barrels of food overseas, or buy expensive luxury goods.

            That's not "poverty".

            The so-called "poor" in the US may be well connected, but they also live in relative affluence, and thus have no incentive to become self-sufficient, even though they have the opportunity.

            Contrast that with people who are genuinely poor elsewhere, who are literally starving to death, and have no access to any educational resources whatsoever.

            You can't use a country as broken as the US as a model for how to deal with poverty or provide education.

            1. Don Jefe

              Re: The US is well connected yet still has many poor people

              Yep. Did you know some pro football players also sell drugs even though they make tens of millions of dollars a year? That conclusively proves that all pro football players are drug dealers.

              Did you also know that the bulk of voting welfare recipients are Republican? You should be proud of them for their small business spirit.

              You crusty little garden gnome. I'm not sure the Internet is a good idea for you. If you go somewhere other than Fox News or Conservapedia you might learn things about the world outside your living room and it might kill you. You should disconnect your Internet immediately, for your own good.

              1. Oh Homer

                Re: The US is well connected yet still has many poor people

                @Don Jef: I find it odd that you think I must be conservative, just because I denounce faux "poor" as scroungers, when I'm clearly advocating to help those who are genuinely poor. In fact I'm a proud socialist devoted to the principle of egalitarianism, who's lived and worked all over the world, including many of the world's poorest countries, so I absolutely guarantee I have more experience of the world than you seem to.

                But egalitarianism is supposed to be a right to life, humane living conditions and equal opportunities, not a "right to luxury goods".

                When you can produce evidence of millions of American welfare recipients starving to death in the gutters, instead of stuffing their fat gobs with greaseburgers in front of expensive TVs and games consoles, you might have a case.

                1. Don Jefe

                  Re: The US is well connected yet still has many poor people


                  I find it odd that you claim to be worldly and experienced but base your entire argument on a grade school logic error. You are extrapolating fringe cases onto everything else.

                  Of course there are going to be people who take advantage of a system. Some of that is guaranteed as a function of being Human, but the outside cases you're citing are a statistical anamoly considering the size of the system. The existence of such cases is only going to be magnified in a country where almost any action is justifiable if you make money off of it and doubly so when it is the greed of others that creates a huge part of the poor. They're fighting back using what they see are the same system and rule bucking tactics used by the 'rich'.

                  I know very well what poverty is like in 3rd world countries. I also understand capitalism, it has worked well for me. While I agree that there's no comparison between the truly impoverished in other countries and the poor here in the US, I also know that isn't what our welfare system is for.

                  Our welfare system is designed to offset one of the worst side effects of capitalism: The fact not everyone can directly benefit from it. Capitalism cannot work if there aren't poor people, the money has to come from somewhere and it doesn't come from the top, that's just how it is redistributed. Law makers of the past and the wealthy understand that, and they understand it is their duty to provide just a little bit of succor to the people who are held down in order to create wealthy and middle classes.

                  That's not just my take on the welfare system, that's how it was designed. Go read the history of the program, it isn't what people think it is and it is a good thing. The loudmouths who say everybody here has a chance are horses asses and don't even understand the system they are trying to control. Silliness really.

                  1. Oh Homer

                    Re: The US is well connected yet still has many poor people

                    @Don Jefe : Scrounging off taxpayers to buy idiot boxes is not "fighting back", particularly when the only people paying those taxes are the poor, while the rich hide their wealth in fake shell companies in the Cayman islands.

                    Welfare scrounging is just the poor robbing from the slightly less poor, which isn't any sort of justice. Although I think you're giving these scroungers too much credit by attributing some noble cause to their endeavors, unless you think being a professional lard-ass is somehow noble.

                    This "statistical anamoly(sic)" applies to 80% of adults who qualify as "poor" in America, and 96% of "poor" American children, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census:

                    'Nearly all “poor” persons live in houses or apartments that are in good repair and not overcrowded; in fact, the dwelling of the average poor American is larger than the house or apartment of the average non-poor person in countries such as France and the United Kingdom. By their own reports, most poor persons in America had sufficient funds to meet all essential needs and to obtain medical care for family members throughout the year whenever needed.

                    Some 80 percent of poor adults and 96 percent of poor children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and is well above recommended norms in most cases. Some 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning; nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite TV; half have a personal computer; 43 percent have Internet access; and one-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.'

                    As for; "Capitalism cannot work if there aren't poor people, the money has to come from somewhere", that's like saying murder cannot work without victims, the dead bodies have to come from somewhere.

                    The problem is the goal itself, not just the method, and in this case the goal is not just "money" but wholly unnecessary extreme inequality. Unfortunately the people most profoundly affected by this inequality are not the Americans who created it.

        3. Cliff

          Re: "helplessly watching a child die"

          >>> The only cure for that poverty is self-sufficiency. The only way to become self-sufficient is through education. <<<

          Education is important absolutely. That may be in the form of cat video machines or books or teachers. The internet is good for some types of education, especially for those who can understand English. It's great for learning how to work online, whether through programming work or whatever. What it is pretty poor at is curing communicable diseases. It can't make physical world changes that make any difference when you're really sick.

          As an experiment, go home tonight, eat some raw chicken and prawns, and let some food poisoning kick in. As you huddle shivering next to the toilet bowl begging any deity to just finish you off, count how many times you are glad you can access the internet. And that's just food poisoning, not a disease.

          On a side note, ultimately there are several ways to cure poverty, realistically though it also involves curing capitalism as you need a bottom to have a top.

          1. Oh Homer

            Re: "What [education] is pretty poor at is curing communicable diseases"

            That's a false dichotomy. Education is not an alternative to medicine, they are not mutually exclusive. To dismiss the idea of education, just because it doesn't cure food poisoning, is highly disingenuous.

          2. M Gale

            Re: "helplessly watching a child die"

            As an experiment, go home tonight, eat some raw chicken and prawns...

            Anybody with an education, possibly obtained with help from the Internet, would not do something so fucking stupid.

        4. cordwainer 1

          Re: "helplessly watching a child die"

          Correct overall...but the problem is, too much of the developed world believes self-sufficiency and education are inextricably linked to industry and technology.

          However, I'd probably agree with you if I knew for certain that your idea of "education" includes things such as affordable and sustainable farming and animal husbandry....or how to make a solar stove in order to cook and boil/sterilize water where no firewood is available, and certainly no kitchen facilities....or changing cultural habits for the better (to lower or eliminate disease, famine, tribal warfare, etc.) WITHOUT being required to give up valued traditions and ways of people the education and information they really need, not judging them inferior to we purportedly "civilized" folks, or being so bigoted we believe they must do things our way...and so on.

          Gates pre-marriage history shows him to be a leeeeetle bit of a hypocrite, since he was well known, for a long time, as being one of the very few billionaires in the world who gave nothing to charity...did NO philantrophy whatsoever. Good for him now, but one can't help but remember that prior to Melinda, our Bill ignored the myriad articles and people who suggested he make at least a couple of charitable contributions every now and then.

          Nonetheless, Gates was never so deluded he believed his "mission" was to sell DOS or Windows to every person in the world...or that it was even close to the "most important" task he needed to accomplish in his lifetime.

          Whereas Zuckerberg is so immature and self-absorbed, he doesn't seem to grasp the basics of human existence. He seems not to "get" that the vast majority of human beings need food, shelter, medical care, etc. much more than they need to be on the Internet, or even own a computing device.

          And if we haven't been able to solve those basics after hundreds of generations of recorded hubristic must Zuck be to think getting 7+ billion people online by the end of his estimated life span is even possible?

          Sadly, he's not the only person who fails at humane prioritizing. The developed nations and their middle to upper classes are increasingly out of touch with worldwide realities, including the harsh global truth that billions live in abject poverty, millions starve to death annually, and every day thousands die for lack of access to basic health care and crucial medication.

          Of course, the "wealthy" nations have a lot of practice at ignoring unpleasant facts, including the unacceptably large percentages of their own population who must be numbered with the poor, hungry, and sick.

          Perhaps instead of pursuing larger market share and personal profit while pretending he is attempting to benefit others, Zuck the Schmuck could spend some of his leisure time interacting with a few non-millionaires. Hang out with some minimum-wage workers, say. Or spend his next vacation volunteering and working in a culture as much unlike his own sheltered, pampered, privileged life as possible.

          Maybe then he might gain some genuine perspective....adjust his priorities to be more in line with real needs....

          But I won't be holding my breath.

          1. Cliff

            Re: "helplessly watching a child die"

            >>Sadly, he's not the only person who fails at humane prioritizing. The developed nations and their middle to upper classes are increasingly out of touch with worldwide realities, including the harsh global truth that billions live in abject poverty, millions starve to death annually<<

            "Let them eat cake" for the 21st century.

            Oh, and absolutely full credit to Melinda.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "helplessly watching a child die"

            "However, I'd probably agree with you if I knew for certain that your idea of "education" includes things such as affordable and sustainable farming and animal husbandry....or how to make a solar stove in order to cook and boil/sterilize water where no firewood is available, and certainly no kitchen facilities....or changing cultural habits for the better (to lower or eliminate disease, famine, tribal warfare, etc.) WITHOUT being required to give up valued traditions and ways of people the education and information they really need, not judging them inferior to we purportedly "civilized" folks, or being so bigoted we believe they must do things our way...and so on."

            I, and anyone else, can find out about all the things you listed using the Internet. And many traditional ways of life are barbaric and cruel and flat-out morally wrong. If you don't think that murdering women for being "witches" and sacrificing young children to appease droughts is wrong, I don't think I can find it in my heart to give a shit about your opinions about civilization.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "helplessly watching a child die"//Oh Homer

          Homer, self-sufficiency is rather difficult when you've got a life expectancy of 10 minutes ago- nor is there much incentive to sort it.

          Eradicating Malaria would make these places safer to live- and also have the side effect of making them somewhat nicer to live in. A longer-living society can be controlled better by laws and regulations so they can start to stamp out the corruption that rots the economies of these countries. A longer-living society could be convinced to give a shit about the state of it's houses and roads (something lacking from Africa on my trips there- there are cities that looks like they were beautiful a hundred years ago and then the colonists backed out... and everything just got ignored. In other parts you'll find permanent settlements that have substantial walls, floors, etc- but that aren't built sensibly- even to the point where they can't cope with a simple thing like rain).

          The removal of Malaria and the like would also make it safer for foreign workers to work in these places. The removal of even /some/ of the corruption on top of that would make it positively pleasant to work in some of them (and less pants-shittingly terrifying than it is now in others).

          And if you want the Internet? Every coastal country in Africa has access to Tbit/sec of subsea fibre-optic cable with a landing point in their country- many from a few suppliers. This mainly serves the dominant industries (e.g. Oil, Diamonds, etc). Industries of this scale exist inland as well, though, so those glassy tendrils will work their way inland to reach the major industries of the non-coastal countries and from there they'll branch out to homes and residential areas. Places that don't have large-scale industries probably don't need it yet but, if the bulk cables are in place, as they start to develop some enterprising young thing can dig up the last Mile or 10 and run a fibre to a better-connected settlement.

          But he can't do that (nor will they develop enough to warrant a fibre cable) with a workforce that is necessarily all children because people die before they hit adulthood, nor with undernourished people doing work on the cable. You're IT guys- surely you're familiar with the concept of dependencies?!

          1. Oh Homer

            Re: "helplessly watching a child die"//Oh Homer

            @ac : "Eradicating Malaria would make these places safer to live"

            But again it's a false dichotomy to characterise this as a choice between medicine or education. You can't preclude education just because there are other social problems. If that were the case then, according to your reasoning, the US government should just abolish education, because there's such widespread poverty, corruption and poor healthcare in America.

        6. Swarthy

          Re: "helplessly watching a child die"

          "That child is dying because it, and everyone else in its country, is living in poverty. The only cure for that poverty is self-sufficiency. The only way to become self-sufficient is through education. Provide education, by any means possible, and save the children."

          And of course a child (or adult even) who has died from Malaria stands to learn a lot and become a productive, educated member of society.

          To paraphrase a post above: teaching a man to fish is all well and good, but it does no-one any good if he starves to death trying to learn to tie a fly.

          Keep 'em alive long enough to learn, give them the tools they need to learn how to use the tools we use to watch cat videos, those are the priorities.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm Bill Gates...

      I've said it already and I'll repeat myself: What is the point of having access to the Internet if you're dead from malaria.

      Priorities: 1: Cure the killer

      2: Educate the survivor

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: I'm Bill Gates...

        When I first glanced over your comment I thought you said "cure the killer, eradicate the survivor". I though that was pretty harsh, but it would be more effective than Internet to the village shade tree.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm totally with BillG here

    BillG is right. Yes, 'net access is a wonderful thing. Yes, it will lift many millions of people out of poverty over the long haul. But the breathless wonder in which plans to net-connect the planet through balloons or solar powered muppets or whatever it is this week is intensely grating when you know there are millions of people who do not have food, clean water and sanitation.

    We went down this path in the 1960s. A bright-eyed NGO would show up to some unfortunate village with a truck full of machinery (courtesy of the US, or the Soviets) and dole them out exclaiming how wonderful it was that now they can industrialize. A few years later the machines are in pieces and bits are acting as someone's roof. Lazy Africans? No. They simply took what they had and solved the more pressing need.

    Delivering Facebook and YouTube to people without sanitation is in the same vein. Come to think of it, Facebook is full of the brown stuff anyway so you are just dumping sh** on people who already have enough.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: I'm totally with BillG here

      I'm glad you mentioned the NGO's. As late as the 80's the UN and several other countries had programs where they would take people out of very poor countries, educate them, then send them back with equipment and help to dig real wells, till soil, distribute antibiotics, etcetera. When they went to check up on them they did find parts for well pumps and water filtration had been used as construction materials. Everyone lamented the loss of the well but it was tough shit the guys who knew how to fix it had all fucking died.

      Most of those large scale programs were stopped because it became apparent that without all the other parts that make up modern civilization: Healthcare, transportation, food, water, political stability, methods to mitigate weather effects and giant predatory animals, all those things, and more, it was pointless to just do a little bit. That little bit was quickly overwhelmed by the rest of the conditions that have been largely eliminated for us.

      We take for granted how incredibly complex our society is. Millions of people toil everyday to mine the raw materials for steel that gets used to build equipment to drill for petroleum that is used to power equipment to harvest timber to be processed into the paper towel you use to clean your monitor. That's a terribly oversimplified example, think of how many other factors are really between you and that paper towel. It's an enormously complex system made of enormously complex systems all connected by undersea cables and satellites. Fucking satellites! We need things in space to get paper towels into your house.

      All that goes on and none of us really have to worry about dying of insect born illness, intestinal parasites, starvation or being eaten by an apex predator. Fucking eaten! Those are just a few things the extremely poor in those countries deal with everyday.

      Bitok has updated his status: "YAHOO ANSWERS HAS NO INFORMATION ON SCARING AWAY LIONS. NEED HELP CALL GOOGLE". Oh, Bitok can't even ask the Internet for help because he can't read and doesn't have a phone to receive a helpful call on anyway.

      We can't provide a turnkey modern society to those people. That's simply too much to manage. We can't provide them with little parts of such a society because without everything else those little parts are basically worthless. But we can work towards eradicating some deadly illnesses and at least giving them a fighting chance to build their own modern society. Without all those other things an Internet connection is worthless. The Internet can't do anything except make inconvenient little things a bit more convenient in our ultra convenient societies. It certainly can't stop you from dying.

      1. oolor

        Re: I'm totally with BillG here

        >We need things in space to get paper towels into your house.

        James Burke everybody. So much better than the old Connections.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First worlders like us have no idea

    When basics like clean water, clean food, heck: food at all are hard to come by, computers have little to offer. Yes, education is critical, but daily needs come first.

    1. Chozo

      Re: First worlders like us have no idea

      Sage words indeed, twice in my lifetime I have seen at first hand just how rapidly western 'civilisation' can go tits-up in mere hours having been on vacation in New York during the 2003 blackout and later the 2007 flooding of my home town Gloucester (UK).

  7. Chris Miller

    Missing the point

    For Facebook, getting computers into more hands is the most important thing in the world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missing the point

      What probably upsets Gates is that they are not Windows machines.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: Missing the point

      I really wonder how Zuckerberg will position this new ultra-poor demographic to advertisers? 'Untapped captive market identified:

      Education - none

      Disposable income - zero (USD)

      Rent/own - Rebuild new weekly

      # automobiles - No roads

      Facebook has identified this market and the unique opportunities it provides for the sale of (silence)...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missing the point

        Bill Gates likely couldn't give a shit what kind of operating system people run on their machines now days, he hung up his Corporate coat and now spends his billions trying to save people in the 3rd world, when he could instead of just sat on his arse in the states and accumilated more money,

        If anything he's something of a modern day hero, he sold a half decent operating system that suited the market at a far lower price than the competition. He created a vast eco system of developers and users through his company, that company went on to produce some excellent tools and leveraged its position to make a vast amount of money from people that could afford to pay for it.

        Now having made his money, he left his company and now saves lives. If only we could all achieve as much.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: Missing the point

          You poor, simple fool. The fact Windows isn't free and isn't the most efficient computer operating system completely offsets giving away billions of dollars to try and help improvised people in undeveloped countries.

          For Christ's sake man, don't you know that Microsoft was responsible for sabotaging document portability standards and even went so far as to try and eliminate the start button? They even established an illegal monopoly by including an Internet browser with their operating system and not including other free browsers that anyone could install on their own. No act of genuine charity could possibly come from the evil genius that is directly responsible for most IT professionals having jobs.

          1. dogged

            @Don Jefe

            I upvoted your post; its use of sarcasm was outstanding.

            However, you're wasting your time. The is The Register where legions of pricks who think helpdesk is hard work will instantly pour vitriol on anything to do with Gates, Ballmer or Microsoft.

            I agree with Jubtastic. Bill robbed the first world blind and is using that money to save the third world.

            He's Robin Hood.

            1. Don Jefe

              Re: @Don Jefe

              Oh, I know. The poster was brave enough to say something not anti-MS and I was hoping to make him a smile a bit before he was drawn and quartered by the others. He's on the second page now, so maybe he'll be spared the worst :)

              But yes. Bill Gates won the money race, and now he's giving that money to people that need it, not to people with enough disposable income to buy a PC and bitch about software licensing. How people can find fault in that hurts my brain to think about.

              Ha! Besides the anti-MS crowd are looking at this all wrong! They could easily spin this to be Bill's punishment to all the people who bought Windows by giving the money to people smart enough to stay away from it: "Look, even the villagers in Africa know not to buy Windows".

              EDIT: In my first post that last line was supposed to be about impoverished people, not improvised people. The upshot is I now have a nice new slander term: improvised person!

            2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

              Re: @Don Jefe

              "The Register where legions of pricks..."

              Oh, you doth flatter us too much.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bill gates

    cf andrew carnegie, who isn't remembered (much) for his monopolistic activities.

  9. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Apples and oranges

    One wants to eradicate horrible diseases using personal wealth and the other(s) want to use corporate resources to increase the number of users of their systems and so increase their advertising reach and revenue.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Apples and oranges

      Well, if a Facebook took off with them they'd be able to update their status with play-by-play coverage of their miserable deaths. That's got to be worth something, right? Right?

  10. John Doe 6

    Well... B.G. don't want Internet to the poor...

    ...because the poor will not be buying his company's software, they will run on either Android, Chrome or some other Linux.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well... B.G. don't want Internet to the poor...

      If you're not just a troll: That's out the other end of cynicism and into paranoid delusions, you should probably seek some sort of professional help.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least the line Bill Gates is pushing has nothing to do with personal enrichment. On the contrary, he's giving his money away.

    Zuck and Google are in the business of getting as many users as possible of their web services. Lo and behold, their cure for the ills of the third world involves creating more consumers for their services.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bill is still the worlds richest man, you've fallen for the whole philanthropist PR thing. Giving away the interest on his bank account isn't giving away his fortune.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        "Bill is still the worlds richest man," - no he isn't. It is a Mexican called Carlos Slim Helu.

        "you've fallen for the whole philanthropist PR thing" - better he attempt to make some sort of difference to people who need it, than be a prick about public beach access.

      2. Don Jefe

        'Bill is still the worlds richest man, you've fallen for the whole philanthropist PR thing. Giving away the interest on his bank account isn't giving away his fortune.'

        You realize you don't keep billions of dollars in your bank account right? You don't even keep millions in your bank account, the real world doesn't work like a cartoon. But that's beside the point.

        Bill Gates' crazy big money is already gone: Poof, gone, can't be returned, deal is done. Sure, he's still incredibly wealthy, but the vast majority of his assets belong to the trust that manages the foundation. Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett gave the bulk of their assets to the foundation years ago, and they can't get it back, ever.

        If you had bothered to read up on how the foundation is structured, before you mouth off, you could have saved yourself from looking stupid. Not to get into your business, but in the future I would highly recommend knowing what you are talking about before you start talking.

  12. Useless User

    Right on, Bill!

    Absolutely agree. Sanitised white young IT males very often don't get their priorities right at all. Heck, there are huge problems regarding health and wealth even in old Europe. IT and big data a la Zuckerberg or Schmidt is no panacea. Zuckerberg and Schmidt should put their money where their mouth is, and, like Bill Gates, donate and fund what's really important, rather than just dreaming up schemes to collect yet more data to perfect their corporate databases, schemes scantily clad as "aid".

  13. john devoy

    When your lying in a hut shitting your guts out, i'm not sure the ability to post the fact on your facebook wall is going to help much.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Both of them are sitting on huge piles of cash which would make a huge difference.

    Bill claims to give away his fortune yet he's still the worlds richest man.

    1. john devoy

      He does seem to be the only billionaire giving away a lot of money on a regular basis, not as a 1 off look good act. He's also putting the money where it matters, easing suffering and not trying to sell them worthless shit.

    2. Getriebe


      "Both of them are sitting on huge piles of cash which would make a huge difference.

      Bill claims to give away his fortune yet he's still the worlds richest man."

      That took a lot of thought and analysis didn't it. I guess as much as you put into your daily work.

      Firstly, as point out on this thread he is not richest - Slim is supposed to be - and if you check out the other in the top ten - tell me how many of them are spending time and effort to get money to areas that can make a difference?

      Sultan of Brunei, Saudi Royal family - compare and contrast? - they are of course surrounded with philanthropic actions.

      Closer to home, what is your annual donation to actions that help others and do not return any value other than a feeling of moral well-being?

      As a lot of the discussion on this thread has been about Africa I shall give my experience/view

      I went to South Africa in the very early 70s to work at a mine (white coated engineer, not 2 miles down in the heat and dust, then working for an NGO before they were called that in the 80s and then a few years ago back to SA to as a very highly paid contractor something to do with cell phones. At each time I went 'bush' and had a great time in the red dust and meeting wonderful people who whatever their status were warm and welcoming. In a village deep in the savannah or in a township. And my overall PoV they are educated (not in a mid-western university way - in an appropriate local way) and they know how to conduct their lives (surprising innit, they been doing for 000's of years) and don't need some dumb fuck like me telling them what to do they just need in some cases the freedom to do what they need and in some cases help because the western world has come in and changed their circumstances - ie the malaria nets as they have moved to an unsuitable area.

      As for cell phones and computers they do not need a white geek helping them, the take up is massive and organised locally by small firms using local distribution methods.

      As you are all computer nerds, one of the best things you could do is find a local (in Africa) company and ship your used but newish computers out there where they are stripped down and rebuilt

      Yes they do use Windows but let us say the licensing is floral - I guess Bill will know as he has travelled over there.

      I send my company's 'excess stock' to a one man band in Alexandra township outside of Johannesburg (they are all just outside Johannesburg) where he is connecting all the tin huts.

      The above is a massive generalization and so is wrong mostly – a bit like trying to sum up South America, Cancun to Terra del Fuego

  15. ecofeco Silver badge

    Says the 2 biggest...

    ...examples of wealth inequality in the world.

    It a joke alright and it's on us.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    FB is public company whose purpose is to make money. Do you really think their desire to give internet to all is through some altruistic intent? Or do you think it may be a way of getting more FB users signed up and monetised? Look it another way, if it was suddenly deemed that removing the internet from the third world would be a benefit to the third world, do you think FB would financially support the initiative? My suspicion is no.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right sentiment, wrong way of going about it?

    I've long argued that if you prioritise education for the third world, people will work out a lot of things for themselves, therefore needing less aid in the long run (i.e. 'the teach a man to fish' principle). In this sense, both Gates and Zuckerberg are right, with Gates approaching third world problems from the top down, Zuckerberg from the bottom up. There's plenty of room for both approaches.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Right sentiment, wrong way of going about it?

      Your premise is right but the actors are not.

      Both Zuck and Gates are totally out-of-touch billionaires.

  18. No such thing as an Anonymous Coward


    When your young, and have lots of $$$$, it's me, me, me.

    When you near to death, you contemplate your mortality and try to make up with a legacy.

    Doesn't hurt if that legacy, also makes you a bit more money along the way.

    For Bill, think: Intellectual property rights play in the pharmaceutical sector. Old dog, same old tricks - just in a new market.

  19. plrndl

    This malaria vaccine is just a vanity project for the Gates ego.

    If we make the bold assumptions that the project is totally successsful in eliminating malaria, and also that the law of unintended consequences fails to rear its ugly head, so what? The people who would have died from malaria will instead die from whatever is the next most communicatable disease in their environment.

    On the other hand, if we give them the means of doing business with the outside world, they have the chance to prosper and rise above their disease-ridden environment, just as we in the developed world have done. Necessity is the mother of invention, and hunger and imminent death are great motivators.

    1. ShadowedOne

      That was the *stupidest* comment I've read so far, and considering that I've read through all the comments so far, that's saying a fair bit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You are an example of one of the worst traits of modern life, and especially Internet forums: The corrosive cynicism which means that in the mind of people like you no-one can truly do anything for the good of others, it's always for their own gain in some way.

      Try to think good of others, give the benefit of the doubt by default, rather than as the last option (or not at all). You'll find that you may become happy seeing good in others, I daresay you're generally pretty a miserable person, because I was you about ten years ago. I didn't realise it at the time, but I'm so much happier now.

    3. rh587

      If we make the bold assumptions that the project is totally successsful in eliminating malaria, and also that the law of unintended consequences fails to rear its ugly head, so what? The people who would have died from malaria will instead die from whatever is the next most communicatable disease in their environment.

      Which is starvation.

      Far more people die from lack of food than from malaria, aids or any of the in-vogue afflictions (famine is so 1984), but eradicating malaria only makes that problem worse.

      Broadly speaking (and mileage will vary from country to country) there is sod all point vaccinating against Malaria unless a country has reasonable levels of nutrition and food security, or is adequately investing such that they'll have reasonable security in 5-10 years, because otherwise you're just accelerating the growth of a population which you're already struggling to feed. That doesn't mean you shouldn't but "we'll eradicate malaria in Africa" is just laughable. Not until you've eradicated famine first. It's only going to work in specific locales where the local population can keep it going on their own and westerners are just getting the ball rolling with seed funding if you will. If the Gates Foundation has to set up a permanent clinic there for the rest of time then that isn't sustainable and isn't achieving it's goals.

      The development of non-subsistence farming goes hand in hand with the formation of industry and local economy. Farmer now has cash (instead of eating what he grows), so he can buy mosquito nets from a local weaver (instead of being given foreign-made ones by aid agencies), and all of a sudden you have a functional economy. Hand in hand with that goes education, the resources and ability to learn new farming techniques, construction techniques, etc.

      It's a funny one because we see modern buildings or infrastructure go up and think "that's a solid growing economy that", but that doesn't mean the local population fully understand the imported technology. A classic example was provided by a natural hazards lecturer at uni - he was working in an african earthquake zone and a local community were very interested in reinforced concrete as they'd heard it stayed standing better than their brick/masonry buildings had done in the recent quake. One of the other agencies working in the area thought this was a jolly good idea and procured some funding. The locals proudly rebuilt their school and core community buildings in reinforced concrete. Panels.

      On close inspection it was found they'd formed the walls and ceilings with pre-cast panels and lifted them into place. None of the walls was attached to it's neighbours, nor the ceiling beyond some dubious screwed-in cross-ties that probably wouldn't hold up a shelf of textbooks. A concrete house of cards, substantially more dangerous than the previous brick and thatch-roofed affair it replaced. In the previous jobby you might get pinned under a beam, but most people would climb out from under the collapsed roof with minor injuries. By contrast you were into strawberry jam territory for any unfortunate soul trapped inside the concrete building (i.e. all the kids if school was in session). The panels themselves were immensely strong, but not attached to any other immensely strong thing...

      So food/water, and education, education, education. Because a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and all the drugs in the world won't help you if you're so malnourished your body can't fight off an infection even with antibiotics.

  20. phil dude

    artifical scarcity...

    I hate to be negative, but this smacks of the elephant in the room, artificial scarcity. The same cause of famine...

    Malaria, for example, is treatable and relatively well understood. It kills so many people because of their socioeconomic circumstance and the ineffectual states that cannot arrange living conditions that limit access to the vector i.e. the mosquito. Not getting a disease is the easiest way of not needing to treat it....

    The problem is a solution "product" is known (e.g. meds, treated nets, drain swamps etc.. ), but the means to implement it are not available for whatever reason. This occurs everywhere in the world, but when you are rich, you can spend money to adapt the environment by producing the infrastructure. When you are poor all there less infrastructure and individuals/small groups are limited in scope.

    Hence, access to knowledge is most valuable when there are the means to apply it. Education is needed for both of these activities, and a society that supports the development of STABLE infrastructure. We have may have phones and computers. But we have hospitals and pharma and a whole raft of tech *industry* to support our ability of live as individuals, within the system.

    These are rich, and by extension, powerful people, and so in practice their words can lead to considerable action if so desired. If the internet were truly ubiquitous,freely accessible and effectively constant around this planet, would we be very surprised if some of these problems would be solved by the individuals in these countries?

    I can't help thinking the "artificial scarcity" which is *partly* economic but is largely political is largely the problem...


    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: artifical scarcity...

      There is artificial scarcity everywhere, even where you live.

    2. Denarius

      Re: artifical scarcity...

      @Phil. Not the same issues. Agreed that all famines in recent decades are a political creation. There is artificial scarcity in some things, but not in malaria control. Despite the small world thinking of the city dwellers, there is so much "nothing" consisting of swampy to seasonally wet areas where mossies carry malaria. Humans live there in same wet areas. No amount of affordable technology or supply is going to change that. A vaccine will affordably fix the human health problem. In low density locations the internet is irrelevant. Mobile phones and aircraft are more useful. A phone for cheap flexible comms and a plane to haul sick person to distant hospital.

      1. phil dude

        Re: artifical scarcity...

        Well that is sort of my point about scarcity. A solution does it exist, but it cannot be afforded by the local population. If you want to see transformed swampy go to Florida. Or Jamestown Virginia where the first English colony was. Swampy and if untreated you will get bitten raw (the colonial theme park there is still like that).

        However, malaria did not exist in the US before the Europeans who brought it with them. It has however, been kept from spreading (

        In Sicily they spray(ed) the streets every week for mosquitos, doled out quinine and so Italy tamed their mosquitos (

        That doesn't mean malaria cannot re-emerge.

        But that is why you need some sort of infrastructure to live a Western lifestyle, without the "northern European" climate. Do you think living in Florida (or Texas/Arizona/) would be possible without air conditioning without drastic economic consequences? I would suggest that the USA is anything other than small world, it has had truly massive geo-engineering in the last two centuries to make it what it is.

        There are also human mutations (the hetero-thals) that have been selected to give inate resistance to the malaria parasite, but has horrible consequences for homozygous occurrences.

        The point about the internet availability is not only that a vast number of our modern benefits depend upon it. I think it is cynical to suggest the "developing world" could not benefit from its advanced use. If Google is demonstrating anything, it is connectivity is a crucial advantage.

        If the Internet has shown our species one thing that is once a discovery is made somewhere, it is possible to access everywhere. Putting quotes on the "possible", is perhaps underlines my point.


  21. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "Working landlines are very different from mobile Obama phones. Try news stations instead of lunatic left echo chambers."

    So-called news sources are not the place to get information on programs like this. Due to the US's broken political system (with two nearly-identical parties which people swear are polar opposites), the news coverage of political programs is poor at best. That said:

    1) Calling subsidized mobile phones "Obama phones" is ridiculous, the universal service fund, subsidizing phone service for the poor, as well as for people too far out in the sticks for the phone co to provide service otherwise, has been around for DECADES. Obviously they were not handing out bag phones in the 1980s, it did not make technological or economic sense. But nevertheless the cell phone program is an extension of these same programs.

    2) *CELL PHONES COST LESS THAN LANDLINES*!!!! If I want a BASIC landline from the CenturyLink, it's like $20-25 a month, with no long distance. The companies providing "free" cell phones are getting about $10 a month in subsidy. So, if they buy the higher minute plan, the person getting the phone service chips in $10 and the subsidy $10.

    3) Employability. The people that speak against these phones, that say a landline is good enough (ignoring point 2), are usually also the same ones that want people off subsidies as fast as possible (i.e. back to work)... which is definitely a good goal. Well who is more employable? Someone who the potential employer dials up and it rings through to their cell? Or the other person with the landline, where it just rings and rings if they happen to be out looking for work, or buying groceries, or whatever (landline service does not include voicemail, and as a broke individual they probably won't have an answering machine!)


    Back on topic -- I've read about startling changes in some of these countries from technology. A few have seen great economic growth, they effectively did not have banks out in the sticks, or any way to hold onto money (they'd probably be robbed eventually if they just had all this cash around), which made any kind of normal economy impossible. Now, it's done via phone banking, they can store their wealth, business all accept phone transfer, and there are places they can locally get some of that on-phone money turned into hard currency when they'd like. In places where there's some farming, better contact between producers and sellers so they can find out which markets are providing better pricing. Rural people are getting medical information they never had access to before.

    That said, I do think it's naive to assume these people will be making widespread use of PCs and using these services similarly to how they are used in the US. Even Japan uses services radically differently than here. Google's plan seems a bit naive.

    I think what Gates is doing is very important too. I just won't dismiss people who think they can bring about change via better communication either.

  22. Dropper

    Robbed the rich..

    From what I can tell the argument appears to be "all well and good Bill, but pot, kettle, black."

    While I agree with the basic argument, the reality is America's kids are (not universally, but in general) little shits, growing up to become gang bangers and wasters. Taking their money hurts no one that matters.

    I suppose my opinion is biased as I have 2 of my own.. both despicable little fuckers who refuse to get jobs. At their age they're the ideal size to fit down chimneys or the small spaces in coal mines..

    But the reality is the money he (and Jobs) "stole" is tax money. As no one pays taxes in America, that equates to free cash.

  23. messele

    He's got that wrong.

    Bill Gates - encouraging the world to overbreed, one ignored johnny at a time.

    1. ShadowedOne

      Re: He's got that wrong.

      "..encouraging the world to overbreed.."

      Judging by your comment I have to say that you are certainly a compelling argument for birth control..

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    did a bit of research

    looked at the website which lists gifts which benefit the needy

    And strangely there wasn't "internet access for sub-Saharan Africa" between "Health checks for 50" and "Knitting for children in refugee camps" nor "laptop for the third world" between "Knives that save lives" and "Let no child go hungry"

    There are educational gifts eg "Give a library to a village or poor area or town in India." or "Teach a [African] mother to read" and infrastructure ones "Water tank for an African school" but nothing involving computers came up using their search function,

    I did find buy a malaria net for £8.

  25. Mikel

    If you want to spend company money

    There has to be at least a plausible benefit to the company in it if you want to use shareholder assets to do some good for the world at a significant level. I don't have a problem with companies spending some thought on how to achieve a social good in the course of business. The very idea that it can be profitable to lift the poorest of the world's poor out of poverty and misery deserves its own Nobel Prize.

    Eradicating Malaria? That's not going to fit in the P&L. A worthy, laudable ambition with the scope perhaps only the B&M Foundation can reach. But the Foundation doesn't have to worry about shareholder lawsuits. This is a better pursuit for a nonprofit than the other.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: If you want to spend company money

      Mutating diseases carried by airborne vectors that can easily cause world wide mortal pandemic aren't very profitable either.

      But maybe that's just me.

      Hard to be rich when you're, well, dead. (and so are your customers... and suppliers)

      I did up-vote you, BTW.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor form to make fun of other peoples' charitable contributions

    Apparently Bill Gates thinks he's narrowed down the only legitimate use for a charitable dollar, and it's curing malaria in Africa, or whatever he's doing.

    I guess he would also think that the entire list of charities that I contribute to is a "joke." Jokes like researching and treating Alzheimer's or finding organizations that are trying to free prisoners in Guantanamo. Ha ha.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor form to make fun of other peoples' charitable contributions

      The Gates foundation does a hell of a lot more than just curing malaria, they work in HIV in particular, but I'm pretty sure that they also do work on Alzheimer's. You could, you know, read about what they do before criticizing.

      Delivery of Internet access to areas where the most technologically advanced item is a solar powered light is useless.

  27. heyrick Silver badge

    Gates' PR handlers tried to get stricken from the interview

    Bloody hell, grow a backbone.

    He's right. There are some places in the world where people can exist quite happily without the slightest hint of IT in their day to day lives. But they might not live at all without vaccinations, sanitary water, and something resembling a stable food supply.

    Oh, and Zuck, you going to roll out connectivity before or after you roll out electricity? Oh, didn't you realise? Not everywhere on the planet has a place you can plug into...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gates' PR handlers tried to get stricken from the interview

      In many of the poorer parts of Africa, people rely on cheap, obsolete cell phones for communication, banking, etc. No electrical grid necessary--the phones are easily charged with solar panels or a hand crank or similar.

      Pretty soon they will be getting obsolete cell phones that have wifi and pretty capable web browsers. Internet will be valuable.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Internet: not just the best library in the world

    Bill G wants malaria vaccination does he? So, how exactly are you going to ensure that all the people get that vaccine? Hmm, I guess you'd need some kind of effective census and tracking program. I wonder what technologies we can use to help.

    Want to educate people on key points of information that can radically help improve their lives? Oh, if only we had a way rapidly to disseminate up-to-date information (bypassing layers of bureaucracy and corruption) to key agents of change who can communicate that information at a local level.

    Yes, I know malaria's horrible, but I also know that the Internet (and mobile communications) are absolutely fucking awesome and have helped make the world a much better place for billions of people. That includes the use of Internet and mobile technologies __already__ for health census and vaccination programs.

    I just don't get how people on an Information Technology site can fail to understand the awesome power of Information and Technology.

    PS I shall never, ever forgive MS execs, including Bill Gates, for the original Outlook Express. I mean, just how much of a greedy, uncaring cunt would a person have to be to think that that was OK to put in the hands of millions of naive Internet users?

    PPS I do not use Facebook.

  29. Chris G

    Think a little

    However BG made his money originally is a lot less relevant than the fact that he is using using it now to do some good in the world.

    Vaccinating to wipe out polio and attempting to fight malaria are not things you can slag a guy off for.

    Malaria may be treatable but there are resistant strains and now vaccines are being developed in an attempt to reduce the incidence of the disease

    "In November 2012, findings from a Phase III trials of an experimental malaria vaccine known as RTS,S reported that it provided modest protection against both clinical and severe malaria in young infants. The RTS,S vaccine was engineered using genes from the outer protein of Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite and a portion of a hepatitis B virus and a chemical adjuvant to boost the immune system response.[8] It is being developed by PATH and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which has spent about $300 million on the project, plus about $200 million more from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation[9]"

    More from Wibblypaedia

    Something I find amazing here is the number of people who appear to think that all of Africa and India have access to a means of supplying energy to whatever devices they are going to connect with. The idea of everyone getting an education so that they can help themselves is laudable but the practicalities are very difficult to achieve in places where a persons first concern is where to get food and drinkable water from, then getting it without being attacked by crocodiles, hippos, lions and or attacked and raped in the bush; something that is prevalent even in relatively well developed countries like Kenya.

    With problems like those, getting the infrastructure (telephone lines, power lines, power stations, people who can operate the equipment) to support wide spread internet access is going to be a ways down the list.

    If you can't get out more try reading about the world more, apparently there is a lot of information about these things on the internet .

    Incidentally Malaria really is horrible, a good friend of mine was driving up through India at the end of last year and even with the prophylactics he was taking he got a severe attack of Malaria by the time he had reached Nepal. Three weeks later in after lying in a hospital bed most of you would not even want to touch he was weak, wobbly and over 40 pounds lighter, almost a year later with the benefits of British medicine he is still getting over it. Many people in the endemic areas of the world suffer on and of from attacks for most of their lives if it doesn't kill them and a Farcebook account is unlikely to help much.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Think a little

      "Something I find amazing here is the number of people who appear to think that all of Africa and India have access to a means of supplying energy to whatever devices they are going to connect with."

      Yeah, they do. Solar, wind, muscle power. The basic device is a cellphone. You just need a charging system.

      It's -our- money that Bill Gates is giving away. Big of him, but he got it from us, and sometimes by abusing his industry monopolies.

      Could they distribute vaccines by putting them on the Google balloons and dropping them off at appropriate locations? Such as the places where you go to get your phone charged?

      Wikipedia passes on reports that lions turn to attacking humans when they have bad teeth and their usual killing and feeding process can't be done any more, although there are doubts about this. Nevertheless, with this information, I suppose it's worth smacking the lion in the mouth to make its toothache worse. With the phone that you used to look it up.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Think a little

      "Many people in the endemic areas of the world suffer on and of from attacks for most of their lives if it doesn't kill them and a Farcebook account is unlikely to help much."

      So the best they can aspire to in their lives is to sit around and try to not get sick?

      Before the advent of modern vaccines and antibiotics and whatnot, people got sick and died "prematurely" all the time. That didn't stop them from writing literature, making music, advancing science, etc. Also, news flash, you're probably going to die of heart disease or cancer or something. Does that mean you might as well not have a Facebook account either?

    3. Getriebe

      Re: Think a little

      Chris G - I make you right on all you have said there.

      On power - the as the ironically moniker's Carniege says - there are local was of generating it but AFAIK there is a direct relationship to poverty and malarial breeding grounds in India. And if you come from some Pradesh the chance of you having a solar panel is small. The Indian states governments are trying to get these means of generating power out to the villages (with help from western benefactors) but as usual corruption is screwing it. And again AFAIK the power is being used for TV as it has been found the best way of getting information to rural poulations

      On malaria, a few years ago my climbing friends did something in the Himalaya, came back via India and one went travelling. He caught malaria, ended up in hospital and was airlifted out. A guy who had summited an 8,000 meter peak was reduced to being unable to get out of bed. He still has not recovered completely 20 years later. Its not man flu.

  30. cyclical

    I actually work with a company that provides connectivity (internet and mobile) to rural parts of various third world African countries, and connectivity absolutely does help improve the lives of people there, especially through education. I've worked on projects that provide market prices to farmers (via website, WAP, SMS etc.) to allow them to maximise their profit, educational websites for AIDS & malaria, educational cartoons aimed towards illiterate farmers children teaching basic irrigation, crop rotation, animal care.

    For the price of a handful of low-spec PC's (and low cost tablets that the company have just launched), a satellite connection and a few days on a bumpy road with an engineer or two you can transform the ability of a school to educate their pupils for years to come. Some of these schools were running on a handful of ancient textbooks - now they have access to courses specifically designed for rural african markets, in addition to the educational resources of the entire internet.

    1. Chris G

      This is genuine interest.

      Can you give us an idea of how difficult/easy it is and how much on average it costs to provide each unit?

      The reason I ask is people tell me Gatesy is trying to get other billionaires to spend a bit of their billions in the same way as he does, I'm wondering how many satlaps 200 million would provide?

      1. cyclical

        It varies considerably - the main cost is the satellite/microwave connection because the infrastructure (power and security mainly) varies massively from area to area, and different levels of work are required for each school. I'm mainly involved in content delivery rather than the actual installation, but I do know that it's done on massively tight margins and even a donation basis with costs being offset in the poorer schools by turning the school building into an internet cafe after-hours, and costs to the school can be a low as $1/pupil/month.

        1. Chris G

          I'm impressed, that really is worth an IT billionaire putting some cash into.

          It's also worth a lot of governments who donate foreign aid looking into that money being genuinely spent on projects like this.

          Worth much more than an upvote for you.

  31. Sebastian A

    I wish

    every rich person eventually matured into a person like Gates. He's come right over time. Respect.

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: I wish

      I think at some point people that rich have to choose.

      20 years ago BillG didn't say or do the same things, but don't be surprised if 20 years from now Mr Z is.

  32. W. Anderson

    Quit meaningless emphasis on personal wealth

    TheRegister, as well as Forbes Magazine and other Western societies addicted to accounting for and predicting the "most wealthy" persons on the planet, need to immediately stop this charade, since it is not possible for Fortune, Forbes or any other American or Western media to "know" the true wealth of many very wealthy people in other nations, especially in places like Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, South American countries or even in next-door Mexico, home of Carlos Slim.

    It is an infantile and futile exercise in American posturing and self importance, particularly with millions of “truly needy” US citizens losing their food assistance.

  33. rh587

    Vaccines... the only thing the world needs right now huh?

    "Take this malaria vaccine, [this] weird thing that I'm thinking of. Hmm, which is more important, connectivity or malaria vaccine? If you think connectivity is the key thing, that's great. I don't."

    Well thats fine Bill. You go and do your vaccines and other people can deal with other problems. We don't all have to focus on one specific problem - there's enough issues in this world for people to have a bite at different apples. There is no "key thing". It's a big puzzle with lots of pieces. Vaccines are one big piece but there are lots of others...

    All power to Bill's foundation, he does a lot of good. That said he does seem obsessed with vaccines, and it seems like an expensive way to go - keeping people alive from disease so they can die of starvation. Pumping modern medicine into countries that can't feed/house the existing population, and dropping the mortality rate seems a bit counterproductive. Most of the western world developed a stable system of farming before modern sanitation and medicine was discovered, meaning you could feed the resultant population boom when kids stopped dying before their first birthday.

    I recently visited India and it was a bit odd seeing shanty towns wth sky dishes hanging off the sides of tin shacks! As little love as I have for Zuckerberg, and as cynical as I am of his motives, something my mum mentioned stuck with me (Dad works over there for a UK company. Having become a lady wot lunches with an Agri degree she has taken an interest in such matters to fill her time) - current estimates suggest India could triple it's food output just by improvements in farming practices - not biotech, chemicals or buying Monsanto seeds, just purely improving transport to cut the 25% of food that gets wasted, and improving farming habits to improve yields and crops/yr. That requires education, which requires some sort of communication to those out in the sticks.

    There's also things as simple as disseminating accurate weather forecasts - "Monsoon season is bulding a fortnight earlier than usual, get your harvest in sharpish".

    If Gates wants his vaccines to work, he needs someone to feed those kids for him once he's done propping up the pharmaceuticals industry. Facebook won't do that but commnications infrastructure is absolutely part of the picture, so whilst I take Zuck with a pinch of salt, I think Gates' outright dismissal of him is a bit narrow minded. Vaccines won't solve the world's problems on their own.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vaccines... the only thing the world needs right now huh?

      Of course bill g is interested in vaccines - he's simply applying all his Windows experience in another direction.

  34. king of foo

    tinterweb pron

    ...the cure for aids

  35. Denarius

    this is weird

    Now I am agreeing with Bill Gates. What happened to the old certainties ?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This at least explains why Microsoft software is late, buggy and badly written - all Billy G's best people are out saving the world. With your cash, like it or not.

  37. pyite

    Obviously Zuckerberg's idea is self-serving, but there would be some benefit to everyone in the world having access to, say, WebMD. It isn't as good as proper medical care but it would certainly help.


    1. JamesTQuirk

      @ pyite

      iF they could reach the phone from their death bed, or have the energy to dial due to starvation, I suppose ...

  38. CyrixInstead

    Say what you like, but...

    Outside of the tech industry, Bill Gates is a fabulously benevolant man. If half the world's rich people funded the world's genuinely needy problems, like he does, the world would be a much better place. For better or worse, Gates has donated towards the advancement of the planet for the last two decades. In that time his products have been used the world over, in everything from cash machines to stopping alien invasions. It's good to see he can continue with it now he's made his riches.

    At what point does a personal fortune become so great that you are fine with spending billions on charity?

    It's good to see someone posting about beneficial tech projects, in rural Africa. Education can be as important as personal wellbeing in the grand scheme of things.

  39. Jo 5

    yeah right

    He said no one would be using paper in offices and all would be using MS tablets by now. Was he right?

    No, he is laughably wrong.

    So if all those 1st world teens using FB are busily self harming then lets not worry too much about some pot-bellied-covered-in-flies-malaria-cholera-stricken kids getting some FarmVille action in!

    /irony alert.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like