I was reading the 2013 Annual letter from Bill Gates as part of Gates Foundation . Each word in the report is magnificently detailed and precise. Gates foundation has helped "almost" completely eradicate polio with lesser than 1000 reported cases in the world. This is pretty amazing! If and when polio would be completely wiped out of the face of this earth, it would just be the second disease to be wiped out. Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries with children affected by polio. I also see a sharp decline in child-birth cases. This report is a MUST read and if possible do your bit to support the Gates foundation.
Even if he doesn't do a single thing from now on - Bill Gates has earned his RESPECT with not only his impact in technology but life outside technology. Personally, I would always remember Bill as the philanthropist rather than the tech-wizard.
Now we are talking about all of Bill Gates' energy and dedication to make the world better, but I'd think that his ethics may not have changed so much, nor his his way of thinking.
But he's doing good things, right ? Or do we really have a complete view on his activities ? Microsoft brought computing to the masses, the Gates Foundation is bringing vaccines to people in need. Will there be a day when we won't be so fond of the actions of the Gates Foundation ? Are there side effects to what is going on that Bill Gates is aware of, but won't be widly known until years from now ? For all the good we see now, will there be dirt coming out slowly that we won't be so OK with ?
I hope there is none of that, really. I just find the narrative of 'he did questionnable things in the past, but now that he's leading a charitable entity it can't be bad. Grow up and praise the man' a bit naive. Fighting polio is good, and the Gates Foundation seems to be doing seriously amazing things. Now I'd still keep a healthy distance, and I'll prefer pushing other entities that I could trust more easily.
That is actually one of the major criticisms of the Gates Foundation rather than MS. The foundation has been vociferous in its support of intellectual property laws. Strongly lobbying for patent protections of medicine in developing countries. My understanding is that the foundation will not fund any programs that purchase drugs from unlicensed local manufacturers, even when local laws do not require licensing.
Here is a recent article on the topic, but the criticism regarding the foundation's support for maximalist intellectual property laws is nothing new:
He and Gates are products of an economic system that has produced monopolies and redistributed wealth upwards for 30 years. Parallels may be drawn between the inequalities of today and the Victorian era, when health provision for the poor depended on the largesse of the rich.
There sure is plenty of inequality in the world, but the conditions in Africa are as they are primarily because the geographical conditions are one of the harshest on earth and because the huge amount of people that now has to try to survive in those conditions. In many places the West can not exploit anything because there is nothing to exploit, the natural resources are very scarce, the people have literally nothing and in best case have barely enough energy to survive. I doubt the authors know much about what they are writing about.
One needs to consider, that willing to do something in the real world, you can often either compromise or do nothing or do much less. From what I understand the Gates Foundation does this to engage American pharmaceutical companies in the whole project, without which they could do little.
Now, if the goal of Bill Gates is to make the world a better place to live, and he's doing whatever needed be done to achieve that ... Of course things could still not be ideal, but there is actually not that much reason to not trust the foundation. Unless you implies their goals were something else all along :-).
No one ever does. Nobody wakes up in the morning and decides, "Today I will strike a blow for evil!"
No, everybody has their own narrative in which they are the hero. Evil is simply the by-product of being so focused on your own narrative that you forget that other people have their own narratives in life.
Hipsters might. Ironically of course. They may even have a twirly villainous mustache to go with it.
I think you may just be the person this article talks about.
Bill Gates is doing good but...
Yes vaccines are great but...
All of Bill Gates energy and dedication to make the world better but....
And now Syria. Worse, sewage monitoring shows that polio is present asymptomatically in the Middle East. It's pure luck that there haven't been active cases.
The Middle East needs to be the next target for a major push, but the war in Syria, problems in Egypt, and Muslim distrust of westerners will make it very hard.
Do you also consider leaf-shaped insects to have gotten that way by "pure luck"?
But polio has no symptoms at all in 90% cases, and only minor symptoms in 99% of cases, so yes, luck. Or divine providence.
The pure luck that their ancestors just happened a tiny bit more like a leaf than their fellows, due to a random mutation or random environmental factor affecting gene expression.
Over time, many tiny bits of pure luck accreted as something that actually looked almost exactly like a leaf.
Natural selection is 100% pure luck. Sexual selection may be as well.
And don't get me started on Paul Allen and the use he made of his Microsoft money... suffice to say he reminds me of the Russian oligarchs.
Better late than never.
Actually, there are still some out there who can - they will change the subject, put headphones on, or whatever it takes to avoid the subject. In some ways, many people seem to never get beyond mental adolescence on certain topics.
Anyway, I founded a community service organization a few years ago, and through one of our projects we made a very paltry donation to the polio eradication cause. One of the major challenges we ran into while fundraising was getting young people to care. Older folks were very generous, since a lot of them remembered polio from their own childhood, and even had friends overseas who were victims. But people in their 20s and early 30s simply did not know. It was greatly disturbing. As a society we make a great effort to keep reminding people of the horrors of World War II, and yet we are on the verge of largely forgetting about this ancient disease.
Polio is rare enough in the first world, that it seems a 'solved problem' much like small pox.
Is this not a positive thing? I'm in my early 20's and only know one person (they are much older and I don't know them well) with polio. That's great. The fact that we are on the verge of forgetting is because it's largely irrelevant or gone in most countries. Also great.
>> "One of the major challenges we ran into while fundraising was getting young people to care. Older folks were very generous"
Was this because young people were not as aware of polio or is this a more general trend in charity donations (that older people give more)?
It's mostly a positive thing. The disadvantages are when people say "measles is a normal disease of childhood, and vaccination against measles weakens the immune system and causes autism". Vaccinations don't cause autism, and measles isn't a trivial disease.
But yes, apart from that it's great.
I can understand folks simply not knowing someone who had polio -- it always seems to surprise people when I tell them my dad had it -- but perhaps we could increase awareness of the suffering that's going on years after the initial epidemic.
There was a surge of hate for Microsoft back then that was frequently expressed in forums on the fledging web and in the newsgroups. Very often you'd see complaints about Microsoft being a monopoly, followed by (in the same post), a pitch for Linux or Mac or every once in a while some other system. “Linux is better than Windows, and it's free!” This left me scratching my head. So there's a superior, less expensive alternative to Windows—what's your definition of monopoly again? And what of OS/2? Runs Windows apps better than Windows, says IBM, a not so small competitor. (For the youngsters, IBM was a large computing corporation of the time, once the very symbol of market dominance.)
The judgment the DOJ eventually won forced Microsoft to untangle IE from Windows. While there's no doubt IE had a huge advantage by piggybacking on every copy of Windows, I say “so what”. Can anyone imagine Apple being ordered to not ship nor require iTunes on the iPhone?
Gates wanted to kill Netscape Navigator because it made business sense. Probably every company wants to knock off their competitors, whether they come out and admit it or not. Look what Jobs did to Flash. I don't mean to pick on Apple. You should read about some of the dirty tricks pulled by Nintendo, IBM, Dell, etc. More than likely every company of any size has some contemptible actions in their history; these are just ones I happen to know about.
I like Bill Gates. At the same time, I can see how some people wouldn't like him. But let's keep things in perspective. We're lucky to have a hyper-intelligent, eminently competent man at the helm of the world's largest foundation.
Also, the book Polio was a fascinating read about the history of the disease and vaccine.
Now the next important thing to do in the 21st century is to educate all these people. I imagine with more automation, robotics, etc, people will need a good education to survive. Some people born today will be alive in the 22nd century.
> The accomplishments of India's vaccinators and children and politicians will not end when polio ends in their country. Now that they have found India's children, they can bring them and their families other vaccines, clean water, education, advice on maternal and child health, and support for agriculture—all the things that people need to live healthy and productive lives.
Overpopulation is not a threat; if you really want to prevent further damage to the planet, start working towards things like sustainable energy, or better yet, improve the system that rewards irresponsible exploitation of the environment. What do you need to solve these types of problems? Education.
Overcrowded cities are a legitimate problem, but it's an issue of design and infrastructure and economics and politics rather than absolute numbers.
And I don't think it's fair to say that we can't possibly limit our population... strong social safety nets reduce the need for big families, and freely available contraception makes it feasible to limit family sizes.
Not to say I agree with marincounty's vehemence on the issue, either. The key is to give everyone the opportunity and environment that allows sustainable reproduction levels, not to browbeat them into doing so.
Apparently Melinda has, with Buffett and
her call for 50% from other wealthy people,
essentially raised $100+ billion. Smart
I liken him to a mafia boss, donating money to charity after having amassed a fortune extorting and threatening people: can the money still be considered an honest donation or a PR effort to make ensure that the mafia boss is remembered in better terms than "antisocial criminal"?
Sorry, Bill. You may be far richer than I'll ever be, but my money is made honestly. I wasn't born rich, haven't built my whole empire on other people's work (QDOS was bought, Windows comes from OS/2, etc) and I haven't been found guilt of a crime by the DOJ.
Also: sorry people dying of diseases, that I can help y'all by being rich enough to buy small islands. The little, honest man is such a powerless pawn in today's money-centric society.
To put it another way, if everyone has bought less Microsoft products total throughout the company's history, what else would they have spent their money on? Maybe Gates' whole career was one huge egotistical venture into believing he could spend the world's money better than they could, and he saw his role at Microsoft as simply bringing that about in the most efficient way possible. I can't find many tenable reasons to disagree with that on a moral standpoint -- he has clearly done more good with his fortune than anybody else in recent memory.
I also don't understand why anyone has a problem with Microsoft buying QDOS. Windows predates OS/2, too.
I admire Gates for turning his efforts towards solving some of the great problems of today, and succeeding.
I can recognize the one without forgetting the other.
As a business man, Gates was ruthless building his empire, but he will eventually do more good in areas that ultimately more important than computers.
EDIT: my point is, one guy advanced the state of the art and the other retarded the state of the art...
This reminds me of an old Orwell essay, "A Good Word For The Vicar Of Bray":
> Thibaw, the last King of Burma, was also far from being a good man. He was a drunkard, he had five hundred wives — he seems to have kept them chiefly for show, however — and when he came to the throne his first act was to decapitate seventy or eighty of his brothers. Yet he did posterity a good turn by planting the dusty streets of Mandalay with tamarind trees which cast a pleasant shade until the Japanese incendiary bombs burned them down in 1942.
> The poet, James Shirley, seems to have generalised too freely when he said that “Only the actions of the just Smell sweet and blossom in their dust”. Sometimes the actions of the unjust make quite a good showing after the appropriate lapse of time.
"Hey, Bill, want a beer?"
"I don't think that would fit into my plans to cure the world's diseases."
"Oh. Hey, do you know what this Java programmer said to me the other day?"
"I'm not sure that's really appropriate to discuss, given my other commitments."
He might be giving lots of money compared to most billionaires and me might successfully buy a pleasant historical picture of himself next century, but it'd be fantastic if he talked about something else for a change.
Hint: they are completely consumed by the problem and won't stop until it's solved.
Bill gives his opinion on something? I predict a comment saying "Who cares what he thinks? Why does he think I should be interested in his opinion? Hasn't he cured polio and malaria yet?"