Bill Gates Pooh-poohs Google's Internet Balloons

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ubercake

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The point he's making is these people don't even have basic infrastructure by which to sustain healthy living conditions (running water, sewage, nutrition, etc...). Internet is not a priority.

I'm sure google would like to get their cameras on even the poorest of communities in order to exploit their data for marketing purposes.
 

whiteodian

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I agree with him. If you are dying from treatable diseases or starving, you really don't give a rats arse about the internets. It is Google's money, but it could be more wisely spent or donated to a better cause.
 

phillipw

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Is this the same Bill Gates that blew off the internet browser, then forced their version on people using a MS operating system?
 

Onus

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Each is providing different services of some value to a community. They are different, and may or may not overlap, but both are of value. This looks like Mr. Gates is trying to act holier-than-thou compared to Google. It's a cheap shot, and imho unwarranted. If he thinks altruism should be the measure of merit, he has drunk some of the kool-aid, and needs to remember that wealth must be earned before it can be given away.
 

omnimodis78

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Access to information is a great idea as long as the public you're trying to "uplift" has access to it (say, at a library) and if they understand how it can be used as a meaningful tool. I doubt a person whose sole aim is to survive from one day to the next, and to provide the basic essentials of life for their families, would understand this, or would even care to understand it. Gates, as usual, has a firm grasp on the reality of the situation, instead of the PR makefeelgood nonsense that Google is pulling here. If Google came out and stated that they donated 1 billion dollars to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, then I'd say bravo, otherwise it's just PR flatulence. And yes, I wholeheartedly believe that the Gates Foundation is one of the only legit private humanitarian foundations out there today. No question about it.
 

DRosencraft

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It is easy for people to forget about the problems that organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation deals with. They link the name Gates to Microsoft and think that's all he does. I get that Google is still a relatively young company, and they're still trying to mature and give themselves a firm footing. But it is getting near the time for them to branch away from their "core". There is a very, very large part of even the United States that isn't connected to the internet, let alone the world. The internet is an amazing thing. It holds tons of potential. But actors like Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc, should think a little harder about applying their vast means to solving problems that don't necessarily directly benefit their bottom line or advance their own company interest. Not saying they have to sell the farm and give away their fortunes, but while there's no guarantee all of them will buy Android or Windows or iOS devices, I'm sure someone saved from malaria, or given clean, reliable, drinking water, will remember the effort given towards helping better their lives.
 

cscott_it

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@aoneone
pooh-pooh [ˈpuːˈpuː]
vb
(tr) to express disdain or scorn for; dismiss or belittle

I think it's admirable that he has devoted so much of his time and money since he's stepped away from Microsoft years ago. Honestly, I'm not sure I could say the same. Sure I'd throw money at it were I super-duper elite, but this is something he is trying to pragmatically approach and fix. He is devoted to the foundation and regardless of what you say/think about Microsoft - it's hard to be an online douche to someone who has tried to do so much to contribute to the greater good.

I think he is right, and that the internet balloons are a good idea - but these places don't have electricity half of the time. They don't have clean water. People are dying of diseases which are unknown of in first world countries (How rare is it for someone in a 1st world country to die from diarrhea - most people don't even know that it is a killer [dehydration]).

Internet is important - but figuring out a sustainable way for them to get the basics (electricity, clean water, reliable ways to prevent curable diseases, etc.) would have a much more meaningful impact on their lives and better enable them to actually USE internet.
 

g00fysmiley

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valid point, but it is still not a bad investment, just liek putting new tires on a car with bad tires, no engine, a seized transmission and broken drive shaft. it gets the thing closer to being driveable but the car has bigger problems .
 

funguseater

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Except that these people could use the internet to contact Hackaday like sites and learn all sorts of easily hacked together community projects for power generation(cheap solar lighting from pop bottles, micro hydro from a gallon bucket), lighting, transport (I like the wooden/cardboard bikes) , education and agriculture if you find the right sites, and most charge their phones with portable solar chargers.

Internet access ABSOLUTELY solves problems in low income countries, in all facets, exposure to new medical information in remote villages say.
 

Vorador2

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Well, while it's absolutely true what he's saying, he says it in a way that gives the impression that Google's project is a waste of time.

The point is, after these humanitarian organizations appear, give food, shelter, medicine and all that, they pack and go. They don't do much else, mainly because of money constraints. They can't take care of communities forever. And that's when Google Loon would come. To connect these people who would be otherwise in-communicated and give them the chance to learn and communicate.
 

fredarteau

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i do agree that on day 1 the baloon projet wont change anything in those country, but if you think in long term, more educated people allow more and more poeple over time to open to the world and bring industries to their country. Remove education / source of knowledge from any country and it will become poor in the world we have today. So i agree it's not curing anynone but in many year it can change the face a country. well i hope so !
 

Raid3r

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It's up to people to find a sustained method, it's up to them to seek a better way than what they have been doing. Solving a symptom will not solve the crises. Long term is the reality, a few less malaria cases does not bring realization to a people.
 

zozzlhandler

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I disagree with Mr Gates, and many of the commenters here. For many people in these areas, internet access could help them to prevent diseases and improve conditions by giving the people the information they need to do this. Most internat access in these poor countries is by phone, and balloon-based wifi could help a lot.
It is not wrong, nor selfish of Google to undertake these projects. Quite the opposite. Mr Gates' projects to help eliminate malaria are good, but without the communication infrastructure Google is working to provide, Mr Gates may not be able to reach everyone he needs to.

Also, Mr Gates is acting as a private citizen, with his own money. Google is acting as a corporate entity, and so its projects may reasonable be expected to have something of eventual benefit to its corporate goals. The fact that Google is selecting many projects that will greatly benefit poorer sections of the world is greatly to their credit.
Enlightened self-interest seeks to help all people, because that way you own purposes may ultimately be served in the best way. That seems to be the way Google is heading.
I say, "keep it going, Google. And Mr Gates, please continue with your wonderful efforts also, but please don't be snarky about people who have a slightly different idea about how to accomplish a world of peace, prosperity and pleasant living environment for all humankind. You are all working for the same ultimate goal."
 

zozzlhandler

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I disagree with Mr Gates, and many of the commenters here. For many people in these areas, internet access could help them to prevent diseases and improve conditions by giving the people the information they need to do this. Most internat access in these poor countries is by phone, and balloon-based wifi could help a lot.
It is not wrong, nor selfish of Google to undertake these projects. Quite the opposite. Mr Gates' projects to help eliminate malaria are good, but without the communication infrastructure Google is working to provide, Mr Gates may not be able to reach everyone he needs to.

Also, Mr Gates is acting as a private citizen, with his own money. Google is acting as a corporate entity, and so its projects may reasonable be expected to have something of eventual benefit to its corporate goals. The fact that Google is selecting many projects that will greatly benefit poorer sections of the world is greatly to their credit.
Enlightened self-interest seeks to help all people, because that way you own purposes may ultimately be served in the best way. That seems to be the way Google is heading.
I say, "keep it going, Google. And Mr Gates, please continue with your wonderful efforts also, but please don't be snarky about people who have a slightly different idea about how to accomplish a world of peace, prosperity and pleasant living environment for all humankind. You are all working for the same ultimate goal."
 

bigpinkdragon286

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Maybe Mr. Gates and Google could work together with IBM's Watson team, instead of against one another? For less than the cost of attempting to immunize everybody from avoidable diseases, they could set up a deliberately censored (not as a replacement or circumvention for personal infrastructure) internet kiosk that could work with natural language input in each village to educate people on how to best avoid these diseases. It's not the immunizations that lead to the eradication of the diseases, it's the education that lead to the immunizations, which haven't come merely in the form of a shot or a pill.

The internet is a great tool for information, but it takes a certain level of understanding to use it productively. If Google wants to be anything more than profiteering here, they should be benevolent enough to help in setting up a proper infrastructure for their efforts to aid, otherwise I hardly see the general masses making great use of this. How many starving children even know what a television is, much less a computer? Do people really expect, with as much entertainment can be had from the internet, it will even be used to uplift people, rather than merely entertain them?
 

back_by_demand

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In a hundred years Bill Gates will not be viewed as a computer guy that did humanitarian work, he will be viewed as a humanitarian that started out as a computer guy. Google's project is interesting but really nothing humanitarian about it, plus farming their data for advertising isn't going to give up any huge surprises. If they had money they would buy clean water.
 

cscott_it

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@funguseater

I agree and disagree. We've seen some of the more connected third world countries and in developing nations and how effective it can be. There have been many stories of how it has done wonders.

However, to say that wifi balloons would be a magical panacea that would change much (if anything) without first addressing the basics needed to survive. Many of these are very remote and may not have access to the "waste" materials needed for lifehacker.
 
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