Google's internet balloon project "not going to uplift the poor" says Bill Gates
Microsoft-founder wary of projects that seem more fun than they do practical
Friday 09 August 2013
Bill Gates has criticised Google’s plan to bring internet connectivity to developing countries using balloons, saying “when you’re dying of malaria, I suppose you’ll look up and see that balloon, and I’m not sure how it’ll help you.”
“When a kid gets diarrhea, no, there’s no website that relieves that,” said Gates in an interview with Businessweek. “Certainly I’m a huge believer in the digital revolution. And connecting up primary-health-care centers, connecting up schools, those are good things.”
“But no, those are not, for the really low-income countries, unless you directly say we’re going to do something about malaria.”
Google’s Project Loon was announced in June this year, and plans to use a series of high altitude balloons to broadcast wifi over regions with poor infrastructure.
Initial tests with 30 balloons in New Zealand were successful, showing how the system could relay internet connections via ground-based receivers; providing access to the web in places where it was prohibitively expensive to install broadband cable.
Gates, however, is sceptical of the long-term help such a project would offer. He said that whilst Google had originally set out to have a far broader remit, the company was now just doing “its core thing”:
“Fine,” he continued, “But the actors who just do their core thing are not going to uplift the poor.”
Gates was speaking to Businessweek about his work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a philanthropic private foundation with an endowment of $36.2 billion.
The Foundation is particularly dedicated towards fighting the spread of malaria – a preventable and treatable disease that still kills hundreds of thousands of people each year. The foundations has committed $2bn in grants to date, helping to fund R&D for a vaccine, as well as helping deploy equipment such as mosquito nets.
Google’s own charitable arm, Google.org, supports a range of projects, many of which have a technological bent. The Crisis Response project, for example, helps to provide tools for first responders in disaster situations.
Gate’s comments in the interview suggest that he favours more direct, interventionist action. Responding to a question regarding individual who are pursuing space travel as an ‘extracurricular interest’, Gates said:
“Everybody’s got their own priorities. In terms of improving the state of humanity, I don’t see the direct connection. I guess it’s fun, because you shoot rockets up in the air. But it’s not an area that I’ll be putting money into.”
Life & Style blogs
Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
The 10 Best kitchen knives
Angus Steakhouse: How does tourist staple continue to thrive in today's gourmet market?
Kim Jong-ale: How did Ushers brewery of Trowbridge end up in North Korea producing Pyongyang's number one beer - and what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 'Natural' energy drink banned for containing erectile dysfunction drug
- 2 Dylan Tombides: West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker has died after battle with cancer
- 3 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 4 Angus Steakhouse: How does tourist staple continue to thrive in today's gourmet market?
- 5 Cover up! Mother told to show less cleavage during Disneyland family trip: 'Are we supposed to wear turtlenecks our whole lives?'
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We provide business administration softw...