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2018 Annual Letter from Bill and Melinda Gates (gatesnotes.com)
212 points by shaki-dora 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 109 comments





Better immunization is one reason why the number of children who die has gone down by so much, from almost 10 million in 2000 to 5 million last year.

What a staggering scale to be dealing with. Two of my grandparents lost siblings, as children. Both mourned the loss for their entire (long) lives. Enough so that I was affected by the stories. Years of tears, stories, missing. Those are just two children, who died 80 years ago. 5 million...


per year (with some adjustment for the changing success rate).

[flagged]


The foundation is quite good at aubstantiating statistical claims. Moreso than most, imo. Have you looked?

In any case, what are the large and rising numbers of vaccine injuries? Could it be growing proportionally to increased vaccination, or perhaps better cause of death attribution? It's hard for me to imagine that (1) the scale is comparable to the 5m figure or (2) that vaccines have gotten more dangerous.


> Also have to consider the large (and rising) number of vaccine injury cases in third world

You toss out entirely empty statements like that ("large" and "rising" and "injuries"; how large? rising at what rate? what kind of injuries?), while demanding solid studies and proof that vaccinations save millions of lives. What more could need to be said?


[flagged]


A whole lot of people study vaccination, and have been for 109 years. Everything is up for dispute from specifics to generalities, from medical studies to policy ones. Yours is a minority position. But, it has advocates. They just haven't convinced the majority.

The Gates Foundation is trying to influence indian policy and practice, and other places. This is based on the idea that immunization (also diet, sanitation, and deworming) significantly lowers childhood mortality, especially in areas of high prevalence.

You're implying this is all a big mistake (or conspiracy). Immunization is dangerous, and hurts more than it helps. I don't know of any convincing studies that have reached this conclusion. Certainly not the the policy level. The closest I've seen to a reliable refutation is at the individual level, in low prevelance places.


Do you want the 99.99% effective vaccine or the far lower chance of not getting a deadly desease?

In the areas where herd immunity is a thing because everyone is vaccinated you might be fine, but if that's not the case.. just look at the way Polio devastated lives before the vaccination.


Loss of young children is considered and handled differently in different cultures though. Where it is more normal, the impact on the parent's lifes will not be as heavy.

They were from different places, but childhood mortality was common everywhere then.

My grandmother was a teenager, in 1930s Poland. My great grandmother had 3 children. All three died the same winter, from dysentery. My great grandmother was near catatonic in her depression. Later she had three more children. The youngest (my grandmother's baby brother) died of infection. These were common stories, and I was witness to that suffering even though I saw only the shade of that loss decades later. His older sister (my great aunt) is alive today, 97 years old. She still misses him.

The Grandfather was Irish. He lost a 7 year old sister to a farming accident, when he was 18. The girl was with him, and he felt that his own carelessness caused her death. I witnessed his mourning too. I even saw him cry at her grave, unusual for a man of his time and place.

Every one of those stories is a tremendous tragedy, scars on the souls of many.


What an unempathetic belief...

A dead child is a dead child.

Gates' interview with Axios was somewhat surprising:

https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-am-ce4ef8c4-95b3-4c8...

Gates said in a phone interview: "The tech companies have to be ... careful that they're not trying to think their view is more important than the government's view, or than the government being able to function in some key areas."

Asked for an example, Gates pointed to the companies' "enthusiasm about making financial transactions anonymous and invisible, and their view that even a clear mass-murdering criminal's communication should never be available to the government."

When I said he seemed to be referring to being able to unlock an iPhone, Gates replied: "There's no question of ability; it's the question of willingness."

So he seems to imply that devices should be built with backdoors to enable law enforcement.


That's not an especially uncommon perspective to have on the issue. It only feels like it's a line that all of civil society is holding because we're on a message board where almost everyone agrees.

With regard to the iPhone case, the backdoor was already built, Apple can sign any software they choose to. It was 100% about their unwillingness to cooperate.

Sort of. But the moment they sign that software, they’ve created a backdoor which didn’t previously exist, and that fundamentally weakens the security of the platform.

Not really, because the signature is tied to a specific device and a specific upgrade. It can never be used again unless Apple signs it again.

Apple had some arguments about precedent and the like, and that’s fine, but from a technical perspective they could have easily done it and it wouldn’t have weakened anything else, unless they decided to sign the software again later.


Interesting, I was totally misinformed about how that works. Thanks for the explanation!

I think one of the fundamental tensions in society is the role of gatekeepers and their gates. The young are biased to view them as unnecessary and the old view them as necessary.

The young often are overconfident, tearing down gates before understanding why they were out up. The old are often blind, gatekeepers often being descendants of the original keepers. So the gatekeepers never saw what the gates are for. Gatekeeping is a self selective process for stubborn loyalty to a cause driven by overbuilt social status needs.

This is why I think "young" energy that wasn't developed in a bubble is the source of everything new.

The gatekeepers WANT to pass along the keys as we are always one generation away from extinction. The trouble is when. And that is muddied by the overconfidence and the over-conservatism. That moment when the toys and the games become serious...


> clear mass-murdering criminal's communication

How much freedom are we willing to give up to get that last percent of criminals?


Wait...what are we talking about?

Some conversation Bill Gates had awhile ago, unrelated to anything else?


Re: "demographic dividend"

> When more children live, you get one generation that’s relatively big.

> Then, when families decide to have fewer children, the next generation is much smaller.

> Eventually, a country ends up with relatively more people in the labor force producing economically—and relatively fewer dependents (very old or very young people).

What happened to the now old people in the bigger first generation?


The young ones have to eat something and they need proteins.

On a more serious note, I assume that they compare the situation with the previous generation.

Generation one dependents: 2 parents, 4 grandparent's, 6 kids, let's say.

Generation two dependents: 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 2 kids.

I'm guessing this is what they mean, maybe I misread it?


Perhaps a better word than "Eventually" would have been "Temporarily".

There's a large gap that a society must cross to go from third-world to developed. Education, infrastructure, technology, culture, and politics, and career changes take time and money, and when you're competing against other nations making the same transition, and others exploiting the system through corruption, black markets, disguised slavery, wealth extraction by foreign corporations, etc. it's very difficult to make the transition.

I believe that the assumption is that after making the transition, the resulting society will have sufficient economic excess that it will be able to support the large elderly population and will be better off in the end.


Do you mean in terms of demographic pyramid?

Lets say that the average number of surviving children per couple is 2, then 4, then 2 again. The children/parents ratio for the 2nd/1st generation is 4/2=2. The next generation is 2/2=1.

Assuming that the average number of surviving children was about 2 per couple before all this, then the ratio basically returns to normal. The only abnormal ratio is the large generation compared to the previous one.

After the large generation, the population is just bigger. But the gen1/gen2 ratio is normal. The population doesn't shrink back down to pre-boom levels.


The "eventually" points at a new steady-state, after these changes have settled down:

Previous: 2 Old / 4 Adult / 20 children born, of which 10 survive = 3 dependents per adult

"1. bigger gen" = 2 Old / 4 Adult / 20 children, all surviving = 5.5 dependent / adult

"Next generation" = 4 Old / 20 Adult / 60 children = 3.2 dependent / adult

"eventually" = 20 Old / 20 Adult / 20 Children = 2 dependent / adult

(Real numbers are better than this b/c productive adulthood is more than 1/3 of life. It's simplified here to make the math easier to follow).


Those are now reaching retirement age, so the current generation will see a lot of their income taxes being spent on making sure the baby boomers have a relatively cushy old age. I just hope there's something left for me in 30-odd years :/.


Wow. Those questions are way more intense than I thought they would be.

Kudos.


It’s addressing the sort of questions and conspiracy theories HN usually raises when discussing the Gates Foundation, i. e. “Saving children only creates overpopulation” and “BG is just trying to raise the MS stock price by getting more users hooked on Windows”.

Of course, judging by this rather depressing comment section, next year they will answer 10 questions on JavaScript and Wordpress.


Raising the MS stock? No.

The GF is invested in big pharma companies and they are heavily influencing the WHO. Those are the things you should have an eye on.

Also nobody is hurt when we point out that you could have used way less data to get this message out.


> The GF is invested in big pharma companies

That's talked about in the article.


The take away for me is that we need constant reminder that there are people in our own states and towns, the story they mentioned of the apartments in Atlanta is something I read in our local paper and seen in local news. Yet it is so easy to dwell on what is wrong in our own lives, so easy to see a wealth disparity that exists between us and the Gates of the world yet completely be oblivious to the gap that exists between us and people like those in the apartments mentioned.

Every generation seems to always have a family that steps up. The question becomes, who do we think will step into their shoes when gone and make the next big contribution to bettering the world around them?


Another comment prompted me to look at the source.

There's a bunch of inline javascript with commented out code there, console logs, etc. for the sharing plugin.

Great little comment of:

    message: '', //not sure what this does
It doesn't seem to be a plugin as I've been searching for snippets of the code and I can't find it online anywhere. Wonder who wrote it, it's functional but pretty sloppy, e.g.:

    FB.ui(
    {
        method: 'share',
        name: 'Name',
        href: 'https://www.gatesnotes.com' + document.location.pathname.toLowerCase(),
        caption: 'www.gatesnotes.com',//line 3 // auto adds meta name="author" tag prop to end
        description: '' + htmlEncode(FBDesc),//line 2
        link: 'https://www.gatesnotes.com' + document.location.pathname.toLowerCase(),
        message: '', //not sure what this does
        picture: FBPic,
        title: '' + htmlEncode(FBTitle),//line 1
    },
    function (response) {
        if (response && response.post_id) {
            //alert('Post was published.');
        }
        else {
            //alert('Post was not published.');
        }
        SharingItemInProgress = 0;
    })
SharingItemInProgress is an undeclared global variable, no error handling apart from commented out logs, etc.

Also, just found this just before a closing form tag:

    <!-- is there a reason this is here? Yes this needs to be here for IE9 for some strange reason-->
There are even some commented out p tags like <!-- <p>PHOTO: Bill and Melinda talking with women during their trip to Atlanta in October 2017</p> -->.

Just found an empty $(document).ready( too.

Bill Gates has a site that looks like it's been put together by the eponymous 14-year old nephew.


HN has got some real geeks. And geeks notice everything.

I love the sort of creative destruction that happens here.

Hehe, I have no idea who wrote it. To be honest it looks like someone just trying to get stuff done asap who's working alone and at worst it's a bit old fashioned, if functional. It's generally quite clear, it's compact and direct and it's not confusing or spaghetti-fied. But there's on element onclick js binding, inline stylesheets, inline javascript, poor scoping on variables, lots and lots of commented out code.

The commentated out code is a personal bug bear of mine. I'm always reminding junior programmers to delete commented out code from the system, I tell them they should never check in commented out code and that's what source control is for. It's a simplistic explanation to deter discussion, in reality it's because of YAGNI and that personally it always dis-orientates me and slows me down while I'm working on code. I get distracted by trying to figure out why it's there and usually it's out of date and within a year it will still be there but now refers to functions that have been entirely removed.

Commented out code becomes stale very quickly. People fear to remove it because they think it must have a purpose, when it rarely does. It becomes unnecessary noise and the person who was best placed to delete it is the one who commented it out in the first place.

I think it's a bad coding habit that you have to consciously break at some point, I certainly used to do it.


Nitpicking someone’s HTML is the furthest thing from “creative destruction”:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_destruction


Isn't it by chance the same as nitpicking someone's comment?

Reasons like your remark is also a part of why I love HN so much.


> Isn't it by chance the same as nitpicking someone's comment?

But they aren't calling their comment "creative destruction".


Maybe he created it himself? Consider that.

[dead]


It's not OK to create throwaway accounts to violate the guidelines by calling names like this. We ban them as well as the main account if it continues. If you have a point to make, make it civilly and substantively.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Touche

Reminds me of the Hamming's "You and Your Research"[0], the part about fighting the system. Quoting a fragment:

> Many a second-rate fellow gets caught up in some little twitting of the system, and carries it through to warfare. He expends his energy in a foolish project. Now you are going to tell me that somebody has to change the system. I agree; somebody's has to. Which do you want to be? The person who changes the system or the person who does first-class science? Which person is it that you want to be? Be clear, when you fight the system and struggle with it, what you are doing, how far to go out of amusement, and how much to waste your effort fighting the system. My advice is to let somebody else do it and you get on with becoming a first-class scientist. Very few of you have the ability to both reform the system and become a first-class scientist.

But damn, the system (the web, in this case) is utter garbage, and it's so tempting to nitpick and try to fight it...

--

[0] - http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/YouAndYourResearch.html


But this is not even fixing the system level discussion.

This is more like

Guy A: Hey look at the moon.(Pointing to the moon) Guy B: We shall get to that, right now I see some dirt under your nails. Lets talk about it, not the moon.

This sort of discussion. Which is like the worst sort of pedantic tangential that benefits no one.


It's entirely unrelated to "the moon". The web is so broken you can find this discussion repeating itself under pretty much every other HN submission.

It's definitely not fixing the system, it's more of desperately holding the last line, so that dysfunctions don't become completely accepted.


> This is why Bill Gates is Bill Gates and you are and always will be a codemonkey

Bill had a rare opportunity (wealth, access to equipment, an opportunity to take advantage of IBM and Tim Paterson, etc) and a subsequent disregard for the laws of his nation that led him to acquire massive wealth.

There's lots of differences between him and most people, and not all of them are unfavourable to 'most people'.


> a subsequent disregard for the laws of his nation that led him to acquire massive wealth

Oh please, windows was taking over the world long before microsoft was abusing its position. Frankly, "Windows on every desktop" was set the day win95 released.

> Bill had a rare opportunity

A disproportionately large percentage of people in tech get opportunities that can lead to massive improvement of life (maybe not "richest man of the world" level, but "rich" nonetheless), most of us don't actually act on them or don't use them properly. Him getting one is par for the course, really.

So his point still stand.

I genuinely say this as a well meaning comment: if your view of Bill Gates is of "someone that got everything handed to him, and succedded only due to lucky timing and illegal methods" you need to open up your horizons, read a few books on the matter and inform yourself, because you've gone so far as to seeing a grey-white person as black (in terms of morality, of course).


> Oh please, windows was taking over the world long before microsoft was abusing its position.

No need for the faux exasperation.

Microsoft was abusing its position long before Windows was 'a thing'.

I appreciate your well-meaning comment, but I assure you that I've read sufficient books, lived through, and informed myself of, the history I'm talking about here.

I don't see this as a monochromatic morality scenario. Quite the contrary -- it's hugely nuanced. My initial comment was a response to the contextually-lacking hero worship that attempts to remove the darker hues from a clearly grey history.


> Microsoft was abusing its position long before Windows was 'a thing'.

Care to give some concrete exemple ? This is again a very genuine query.

As far as my knowledge goes, Microsoft sometimes went fast and aggressively in the DOS and Win3.1 days, but there was no abuse of position until the win98 days and forward where they started on the browsers, the jvm, ...


> Care to give some concrete exemple ? This is again a very genuine query.

The wikipedia article provides a concise summary of litigation, which is a subset of its abuse of power, but nonetheless enlightening:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_litigation

It starts:

"In the 1990s, Microsoft adopted exclusionary licensing under which PC manufacturers were required to pay for an MS-DOS license even when the system shipped with an alternative operating system."

And then gets worse. It is not a short page.

When you say 'fast and aggressive', are you including FUD (ie. lying, libel, etc) and (arguably) inserting code to break competitors software?


I'd like to offer that those interested in the article are still busy reading the article (which just got to the frontpage minutes ago), while those interested in whining about it are much more efficient at hitting Ctrl+U and looking for js tags.

What I'm saying here is, don't judge a community by its early comments on high quality articles, just downvote & move on.

(Some people here have nothing of substance to contribute because they're out of their depth, so they try to push early comments in any way they know and they happen to know javascript...)


50 comments in, I came here to complain about the javascript and this is the top comment.

I need to re-examine my life.


He could also be a stickler for detail. Do you not think he could easily chew out the web designer for being presented with a blank page with javascript disabled?

I wonder if he was asked what his response would be? IMO, there are good reasons to be able to deliver at least your text than nothing at all (a blank page is piss poor, and I'm sure Bill Gates would have used much more colourful language in his hey day).


You mean people on a tech news site are commenting on the tech rather than the article itself which has nothing to do with tech? Who would've thought?

I am amused by our priorities as a community.

Why is this page rendering 19654 lines of code? And what the hell is this about:

https://i.imgur.com/5tREuGB.png

Just for a blog? Yeah, I'll pass. Anyone who wants to bypass this crap can do so here:

https://archive.fo/teorC

Guess they're liking mopping up all that data as we know MS likes to do :)


Yes, Bill Gates has nefariously plotted to "mop up" your data as you read his annual letter...in stark contrast to all of the world's most popular sites that don't touch your data, ever.

Once he knows what browser version you're using, he's going to steal your wife. Till death to us part, until she realizes you haven't upgraded to Microsoft Edge, the superior browsing experience, yet.

Welcome to the internet in 2018. That's pretty much the standard boilerplate these days.

I doubt the site is maintained by Gates personally. There's a company sitting behind it doing PR work for his foundation I'd assume.

Of-course! That's the case with most celebs. Maintaining a blog/site cannot be Gate's personal priority anymore.

In fact, I doubt he wrote it and, if anything, might only gave it a cursory review.

I'm not sure why you think that, this sort of thing seems to be his priority for the last, what, decade?

We need a new dog-whistle term for this kind of reflexive skepticism. I propose "cynisignalling".


I KNOW that because multi-billionaires running multiple super large companies do not sit at their desks and think about PR releases or blogs or, sometimes, even have a computer on their desk. Yes, there are exceptions but I can guarantee Gates does not sit and write this up.

Well, it is Microsoft software.

I honestly can't fault Microsoft alone per se for this, TBH. It's just, as someone said, the modern web.

The highest KB bloaty JS I see is the Youtube embedded video player (about 500K of JS and CSS). There's also a bloaty 200-300K "sprite sheet" gifs, which per the code I guess they are using as some sort of video. (I wonder if that could be optimized.)

There's a lot of the usual tracking and analytic scripts, of course. Microsoft has their own in this (Application Insights) but of course you've got the Google and FB and other standard social media scripts.


Welcome to the new normal.

Leave JS off, you won't need it for this page.

17 MB for 5900 words. And you are getting downvoted for pointing out the obvious.

It's true that it's a waste and a shame that it's the new normal today. But the person is not being downvoted for pointing out something obvious, the person is being downvoted for not adding to the conversation that is relevant, the actual content of the letter.

But by all means, create a new post or link a blogpost in a new submission on how terrible this world we live in with 2MB of JS for just a bit of text. I would agree with that sentiment.

But when the topic is optimism, foundation spending, education and other topics, the size of the embedded JS is simply not interesting.


Both the content and the execution are worth mentioning. Especially on an article about inequality of access. 17MB text is not an issue if you're in one of the few broadband enabled rich locations of the world. But there are large parts of the world where you'd need a few hours on dial-up to read this article. Heck, even a sizeable portion of Americans are still on dial-up (https://www.dailydot.com/debug/dvd-rental-windows-3-aol-2017...),

> Especially on an article about inequality of access

I did not read the full article, only skimmed. If this is mentioned then yes, it's very relevant and indeed valuable to discuss. Thanks for bringing that up and I agree, 17MB is not very accessible, and bit weird to talk about inequality of access when serving so huge pages that won't even work in some parts of the world.

With that said, tcd did not mention the same things as you did. There was no reaction about "article about inequality of access when your site is not accessible!", but more of a knee-jerk reaction of "Large JS, boo!". That's the part that is not constructive and I'm guessing, is why it was downvoted.


>I did not read the full article, only skimmed. If this is mentioned then yes, it's very relevant and indeed valuable to discuss. Thanks for bringing that up and I agree, 17MB is not very accessible, and bit weird to talk about inequality of access when serving so huge pages that won't even work in some parts of the world.

It's not talking directly about inequality of access to websites. But inequality of access to education, vaccinations and other things is one of the general themes in the blog post. So it's only slightly hypocritical.

>With that said, tcd did not mention the same things as you did. There was no reaction about "article about inequality of access when your site is not accessible!", but more of a knee-jerk reaction of "Large JS, boo!". That's the part that is not constructive and I'm guessing, is why it was downvoted.

True, I think the comments might really be the wrong place to bring this up. It would be kind of cool to have the ranking algorithms on Google, Reddit, HN and other webpages downrank pages with large non-content sections. I'm not sure if such a metric is feasible without accidentally blocking some good pages, but we need harder measures to fight this internet cancer.


> But when the topic is optimism, foundation spending, education and other topics, the size of the embedded JS is simply not interesting.

Okay, look at it this way. If it was all about the foundation and the content of the page it would look like a Word Document. Just a wall of text, maybe some graphics with stats. But this is not the case here. Somehow the Gates Foundation decided they need 17MB of sugar to get this message out. If the JS to content ratio is that blatant I'd argue that they know they don't have anything of value to say.


Bill gates is no saint as he tries to project himself to be. Look what this foundation tried to do in India, but it seems that it didn't work out, thanks to a number of brave doctors who questioned and blocked it..

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/heath-ministry-to-st...


Those questions seem self asked.

I'd want to know if?they tried or interested in tiny short term gifts to help a person today, right now. We have gofumdme. But no way to give the coworker $200 to fix her car; $35 for gas; $100 till next oay; or one year of Uber so they dont spend 1.5 hrs pay to from work. Some silent gates ambassador who knows help when it's needed


What do you mean? What's stopping you from giving your coworker $200 to fix her car? Or do you mean you want Bill Gates to give her $200 for her car?

A new way to give..a new way to receive... Sometimes i see it simply as a match game of need v supply. Our filter system for need is still pre internet

> But no way to give the coworker $200 to fix her car; $35 for gas; $100 till next oay; or one year of Uber so they dont spend 1.5 hrs pay to from work.

Why don't you do it?


Because of my insight i get to know a group of people barely making it. i do help when i can.

I see absolutely no financial help for the one time and many time needs of this group. Yet there are plenty of people with a lot of money.

If i asked them a question it would be have they considered helping people with tiny gifts. Did u read the article? They made up and answered 10 questions. I made one


While I'm really, really happy that Bill and Melinda are doing Good Things with their wealth these days, it's easy to overlook the mechanisms by which they (but mostly Bill) acquired their wealth. I find people under the age of about 35 really have no clue about Ye Bade Olde Days, and seem to consider the Microsoft Corporation to have always been a force for good.

Look, it's clear that he's changed a lot, but how much of this is genuine altruism rather than some guilt mitigation.

For anyone unfamiliar, Bill's deposition (part 1) on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_2m1qdqieE

There's myriad resources on the net that describe the USA's DoJ's case against Microsoft, and their three days (!) of deposition recordings with the guy.


I think the universal hate of Microsoft has survived as a meme 'till this day. People may not know the details, but they know they're supposed to dislike MS.

Still, all the bad things Microsoft did back then are a rounding error compared to all the good Bill and Melinda are doing right now. I understand the idea of not promoting "end justifies the means" thinking, but we need to be pragmatic about this - there are only few people on this planet who have, simultaneously, lots of resources, their heart in the right place, and enough smarts to use those resources effectively for the common good. Discouraging those people from helping is a pretty stupid thing to do.


“rounding error” is being very quick to dismiss extracting billions of other people’s dollars using underhanded business tactics. That doesn’t mean that we should ignore what he’s done since but he has plenty of paid PR staff to spin for him – you shouldn’t contribute your services pro bono.

I'm not dismissing it off-hand, just putting it into perspective. And frankly, there is orders of magnitude difference between those two things.

> you shouldn’t contribute your services pro bono

But I happily will. I want to.

I will readily, and entirely for free, support every single company, organization, government and individual who puts a honest and smart effort to make the world a better place. We're in extremely short supply of groups and people who make a difference; almost everyone - companies, countries, NGOs - are too distracted playing market games and politics for their personal, short-term benefit.

You get what you support. So let's support people who actually care.


> I will readily, and entirely for free, support every single company, organization, government and individual who puts a honest and smart effort to make the world a better place.

So, not microsoft then. Which's the one you're implicitly promoting right now.

> I will readily, and entirely for free, support every single company, organization, government and individual who puts a honest and smart effort to make the world a better place.

This means you're not immune to PR. Sorry, but the world doesn't work like that. Ms constantly says how it'll change the world for the better and look at the software industry. Support those who don't do evil things to get rich, how about that?


> .. too distracted playing market games and politics for their personal, short-term benefit.

I'm guessing you didn't watch the youtube link in the message to which you're responding?


I didn't. I'm a short-term procrastinator, much like the companies and governments I'm referring to, I find it easy to waste 50 minutes in 5-minute increments on HN, but hard to waste same 50 minutes watching a single video. ;).

But I assume you imply Gates was stuck in the same personal-benefit games. I agree with that. What makes him part of the pretty small group is that, eventually, he got out, and now seems to both be focused on helping others, and has a more global perspective.


Fair enough. It's a long video, and there's several of them.

On the upside, you don't have to watch much of the first one to get an insight into the attitude the DoJ was up against at the time. I suspect there's some recommendations on that page for summary / compilation videos of the deposition videos.

And I wasn't implying anything -- he clearly was. In subsequent testimonies he'd obviously been trained by PR types in how to not appear obstreperous, which was certainly to everyone's advantage, though it does invite the question 'which is the real Bill?'.

I've discussed elsewhere in this thread the dangers of considering current-Bill without considering how previous-Bill got him where he is.


> I think the universal hate of Microsoft has survived as a meme 'till this day. People may not know the details, but they know they're supposed to dislike MS.

Please do not imply that I am unfamiliar with the historical record here.

> Still, all the bad things Microsoft did back then are a rounding error compared to all the good Bill and Melinda are doing right now.

My point is, was, and shall remain that all the good things you allude to require all the bad things that happened.

It is precisely an 'ends justifies the means' attitude, and I feel the call to pragmatism is disingenuous.


> Please do not imply that I am unfamiliar with the historical record here.

I'm not implying that. I was responding to your assertion that "people under the age of about 35 really have no clue about Ye Bade Olde Days" and asserting that people under 35 know they're supposed to hate Microsoft too, even if they don't know the detailed reasons.

> It is precisely an 'ends justifies the means' attitude

It's only "end justifies the means" when people start excusing present bad behavior by arguing that it'll lead to something good in the future.

My point here boils down to:

Dear critic of Bill Gates. So maybe in the past, Bill was evil while you were not. Good for you. But right now, Bill is a force of good, and you're still - at best - not actively harmful to society, so maybe go and do something meaningful instead of making it more difficult for those who do?


> ... asserting that people under 35 know they're supposed to hate Microsoft too, even if they don't know the detailed reasons.

I apologise -- I did not intend to sound prescriptive, but rather observe that people over that threshold tend to have a qualitatively different view of MS & Bill than people under it.

> It's only "end justifies the means" when people start excusing present bad behavior ...

I disagree very strongly with this revisionist attitude.

> ... go and do something meaningful ...

This is precisely what I'm endeavouring to do.


FWIW, I'm well past 35 and I'm very familiar with the business practices of Microsoft (so happy that the 'Micro$oft' meme died out) and BillG and I don't give a rat's ass.

Yeah, I was pissed off that I couldn't install Windows 3.1 on my copy of DR-DOS. So what?

He built a successful business using very aggressive and hard line tactics that left a swath of destruction in its path. Now he's using his wealth for good. Let's stop dwelling on the past and focus on the good of the present.


[flagged]


We've banned this account for breaking the site guidelines. If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I've been banned because I'm against the mindless m$/Gates bootlicking. Nice. How do you feel as a person? Can you sleep? Don't you think that your shitty rules just create a hivemind? Nevermind, HN is full with retards who think they're geniuses.

Btw, you're quite famous for being a shitty moderator. No doubt you're part of HN's problem: you're just a shill who tries to keep the bubble intact.


I’m afraid I fail to see the relevance of this post to the matter at hand. Did his company do some despicable things, and did he have anything to do with it? Yes. I think most corporations of a certain size do.

The good he has done the world since then so dramatically outweighs the bad that posts like yours above just seem catty to me.

I’ve found it kind of funny and ironic that Bill was always the evil one and Steve Jobs was the cool “think different” upstart, but looking back on their entire lives, Bill has done so, so much more to make the world we live in a better place for everyone.


FWIW I've never thought of Steve Jobs as a force for good in the world.

I didn't mean to seem catty. Rather, if someone exercises some philanthropic tendencies, but the wealth that backs those things up came from illegal, immoral, unethical, or dubious business practices, should we celebrate, or be cautious about our hero worship?

For my own part, I find the sentiment:

> I think most corporations of a certain size do.

To be particularly apologetic -- we really should be holding our elites up to higher standards than 'many people do wrong stuff, so it's okay'.

Also:

> The good he has done the world since then so dramatically outweighs the bad ...

This attitude implicitly discounts the benefits that other people may have done with that wealth, had it not been redirected into Microsoft / Bill Gates.

Yes, look, undeniably, as I said from the outset, they're doing some really good work -- but it's impossible for us to know what may have been done, or may be being done right now, in a more ethical history.


Just to be clear, I didn't mean to imply that it was okay. My text does read that way and I appreciate the opportunity to elaborate.

I too would like the world more if there were less of that. I can't think of a lot of philanthropists off the top of my head who made their fortunes from unambiguously morally-good methods. My personal opinion is that we're probably on an upward trajectory. Comparing how Gates made his fortune with the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Carnegies, etc. I think Microsoft comes out on balance a bit better.


Thank you for your thoughtful follow-up.

I agree that we're probably on an upward trajectory -- and that's a very good thing indeed.


Personally, I think we can't afford to not use the helping hand. It's not like there is a steady supply of Jesus-level saints, who had done not a single bad thing through their entire lives, and who are at the same time rich, smart, and willing to help the world.

> Personally, I think we can't afford to not use the helping hand.

Well that's just a defeatist attitude towards society and an uncaring, corrupted government (no matter where you happen to be writing that from).

Comparing Jesus-level sainthood to Bill ... I can't tell if you're trolling there.


> Comparing Jesus-level sainthood to Bill ... I can't tell if you're trolling there.

I feel I need to be direct: you seem to be failing at reading comprehension 101 all throughout this thread (I assume tiredness).

I was not comparing Bill to Jesus. I was implying that you, and similar critics, think that we have streams of Jesus-scale saints who are smart, rich and ready to help, and we prefer Gates instead. But we don't have those saints. Right now, we can only choose between Gates and no one at all.


Appreciate your directness.

I think the Jesus and saint juxtaposition confused me (saints first appeared about 200-300 years after Jesus, and no one has ever claimed Jesus was a saint, etc).

Anyway, thank you for your clarification.

To be clear, I do not think that we have streams of 'Jesus-scale saints' who are smart, rich (as Jesus ostensibly said, that won't get you into heaven), and ready to help.

I do think we have a bunch of problems, and some institutions (governments, for example) that have been developed with the intent of solving those problems.

If the problems of society/ies require that we have [the head of] an organisation convicted for violating the Sherman antitrust act come to rescue us with their ill-gotten gains, then perhaps we (as a society) should be aiming higher.

Mind, I'm coming at this from a naive, optimistic attitude of wanting to not need heroes in order to save us all from each other.


> I think the Jesus and saint juxtaposition confused me (saints first appeared about 200-300 years after Jesus, and no one has ever claimed Jesus was a saint, etc).

Fair enough. Maybe my "Jesus-level saint" expression was needlessly confusing indeed.

> Mind, I'm coming at this from a naive, optimistic attitude of wanting to not need heroes in order to save us all from each other.

Ok, I get that. Personally, I think I've lost that optimism some time ago now, and figured we have no option but to work with what we have, as imperfect as it is. I liked my utopian/dreamer self better, though.

WRT Gates, I'm not pretending his tenure at Microsoft wasn't full of malicious actions. But then, in my mind there is a kind of quality difference between just being a huge ass in the business game, and directly trying to hurt (or kill) people. Gates was only the former, and never the latter (to the best of my knowledge), and right now his actions are actually saving lives and making more lives better.

Then again, I just figured out an example that lets me emphasize more with the critics. I was never impacted directly by Microsoft's past misbehaviour, and I was a kid through most of the bad stuff that was going down. But if today the top brass of Uber was to create something similar to Gates Foundation, ... well, I'd definitely feel conflicted. On the one hand, I'm responsive to utilitarian arguments, and Uber didn't exactly go around killing people either. On the other hand, the amount of sociopathy they've displayed for the past ~5 years left such a bad a taste in my mouth, that I'm not sure if I'd be able to support that hypothetical help-the-world venture.

So maybe I'm being uncharitable to you and some other critics; maybe my Uber is your Microsoft.


Seriously, thank you for that very thoughtful and candid comment.

I was going to leave it at that ... but, couldn't. :)

You're right, of course, that we each grow up observing different parts of our societies -- government, elite, and celebrities (a hugely abused word) -- and our evaluation of these shape our own ethics and expectations of others' ethics.

From 2002, an article in The Register (UK) tech rag:

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/11/13/gates_gives_100m_to...

Quoting from same:

"We do hate to rain on a high-profile corporate love-fest, but we have to point out that in addition to the much trumpeted $100 million Billg has donated to India's fight against HIV, he's funding the Microsoft jihad against Linux to the far more impressive tune of $421 million. That means that Linux is more than four times worse than AIDS to Billg and his happy Redmond family. God forbid any of them should learn the bitter truth the hard way and start talking sense.

"Billg's personal $100 million goes to health initiatives over ten years, while $421 million of Microsoft's money goes, over a mere three years, to support MS-friendly development and 'educational' initiatives. And being a monster MS shareholder himself, a 'Big Win' in India will enrich him personally, perhaps well in excess of the $100 million he's donating to the AIDS problem. Makes you wonder who the real beneficiary of charity is here.

"Oh, and let's not forget the five, count 'em, five, vanity puff-pieces appearing in the New York Times this week glorifying Billg's generosity, one of which he wrote himself. That's worth quite a lot too, in PR brownie points for both him and his company. It's far better than free advertising; it actually looks like news and therefore has immensely more persuasive value."

Undeniably El Reg had / have their own agenda, and it was Bill's foundation in one case and Microsoft in the other that they're comparing the dollar-figures of ... and yet ... it's hard to feel the same 'aww gee' response that's expected of us now.

But, for what little it's worth, I agree that Uber's not a net force for good either.


Microsoft did a lot of ruthless things and even some illegal things, yes, but it requires a very unkind reading of history to deny the absolutely huge role they played in bring about the world we take for granted today.

It's a common, but not at all obviously correct, analysis that where we are today was manifest destiny and thus Bill Gates and Microsoft was just randomly the medium providence chose to carry out this destiny. Microsoft got so incredibly many things right, and they started flagging almost the second they got a major thing wrong (the internet).

I really like this interview (Bill Gates on Letterman in 1995). He says the internet is a big deal, but he clearly doesn't get it, not does he provide any sort of thought leadership. Baseball and cigars? Snowcrash had been out for three years by then. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lskpNmUl8yQ


> ... the absolutely huge role they [Microsoft] played in bring about the world we take for granted today.

It's entirely not clear what would have happened if Microsoft / Bill had not brokered that highly dubious original deal -- if, say, CP/M or even *nix had won that war.

My personal take is that we'd be ahead of where we are now. And I certainly don't think that we're at some kind of manifest destiny today.

Consider this discussion on HN from a couple of years ago around this very subject:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9667498


> yes, but it requires a very unkind reading of history to deny the absolutely huge role they played in bring about the world we take for granted today.

Yes huge role: but not a good one.

> Microsoft got so incredibly many things right

Like the FUD, EEE and the rest of the nasty stuff? Ms gets too much positive credit for all the bad things it has done.


Having lived through those days it's hard to believe this new avatar.

I got my first computer in 1982, my first modem in 1985 and I have a generally positive view of both Bill Gates and Microsoft.

Yes, sorry. I didn't mean to say everyone from before that era shares my worldview, merely that most people since then don't.

I had a wider range of IT experiences than most people, which necessarily led me to a different perspective than most computer users of that era.


What was the exact reason for posting that link? Are you trying to make a point with that link? What point exactly?



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