Bill Gates: Internet connectivity doesn’t mean much if you’re dying of starvation

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Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates made his fortune in computing, so you might expect him to be a champion of the Internet.

“I certainly love the IT thing,” he told the Financial Times in a rare interview, published Friday. “But when we want to improve lives, you’ve got to deal with more basic things like child survival, child nutrition.”

While Google and Facebook made it a mission to bring the Internet to emerging nations, Gates is more concerned with disease prevention. He doesn’t believe that more technology and connectivity is inherently a good thing. This mentality is at odds with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who recently committed to bring the Internet to five billion people.

In the interview, which is extensive and well worth a read, Gates echoed many of his previous statements to the press. “When you’re dying of malaria, I suppose you’ll look up and see that [Internet-delivering] balloon, and I’m not sure how it’ll help you,” he told a reporter at Bloomberg Businessweek in August.

In addition, in a recent ‘Ask Me Anything’ on social community site Reddit, Gates discussed his broad goals for his charitable work. The entrepreneur and philanthropist is investing a sizable chunk of his personal wealth into education ventures, public health initiatives, and solutions that could slow the rate of climate change.

Gates has also donated billions of dollars to eradicating diseases like malaria and polio through his foundation. He’s given away $28 billion of his own funds to the organization, which he runs with his wife. The Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation currently has an endowment of around $36 billion.

“Fine, go to those Bangalore Infosys centres, but just for the hell of it go three miles aside and go look at the guy living with no toilet, no running water,” Gates told the FT. “The world is not flat and PCs are not, in the hierarchy of human needs, in the first five rungs.”


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