Bill Gates Says Internet Connectivity Doesn't Mean Much If You’re Dying Of Starvation

The internet is not going to save the world, says the Microsoft co-founder, whatever Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley’s tech billionaires believe. But eradicating disease just might.

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Why Bill Gates thinks technology will not save the world

Many technologically-inclined individuals think that the Internet is a very significant force in driving socioeconomic improvement.
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This is the belief that pushed Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg to draft a plan of getting everyone on Earth connected by selling cheaper Internet access, an effort he called “one of the greatest challenges of our generation.”

So, when asked if having an Internet connection is more important than finding a vaccine for malaria, Bill Gates surprisingly commented contrary to what was expected. “As a priority? It’s a joke."

Bill Gates, chairman and founder of Microsoft Corp., speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting on September 24, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images) | Getty

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"Take this malaria vaccine, [this] weird thing that I’m thinking of. Hmm, which is more important, connectivity or malaria vaccine? If you think connectivity is the key thing, that’s great. I don’t," Gates added.

He added, “Innovation is a good thing. The human condition – put aside bioterrorism and a few footnotes – is improving because of innovation,” he says. But while “technology’s amazing, it doesn’t get down to the people most in need in anything near the timeframe we should want it to”.

This isn't the first time Gates has criticized the idea of getting the poor online ahead of other necessities

After Google announced their "Project Loon" plan to use balloons to deliver internet access to remote areas, Gates criticized Google's efforts in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

A concept for Google Balloon Project!

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He said: "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. 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," Gates said.

As co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has been a vocal advocate for malaria research for years

The 58-year-old philanthropist has put billions of dollars into improving healthcare and fighting poverty in developing countries.

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.

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, right, and Melinda Gates meeting with members of the Mushar community at Jamsot Village near Patna, India, in 2011.

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Being one of the world’s most influential and the second richest man, Gates will surely have a great impact on whoever or whatever he will choose to support.

Back in 2011, Gates wrote in a blog post for The Huffington Post:

"The malaria parasite has been killing children and sapping the strength of whole populations for tens of thousands of years," wrote Gates.
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"It is impossible to calculate the harm malaria has done to the world. But we have the ability to make generation after generation of better tools, and we can chart a course to end malaria."

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