Bill Gates: Prioritizing Worldwide Internet Access Over Malaria Research Is a ‘Joke’

Technology is “amazing,” the Microsoft founder says, but it’s not going to save the world.

The Internet is a great invention, though it won’t save the world, claims Bill Gates, whatever Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley’s tech giants believe. Photo: Choice Isy/Flickr

In an interview to The Times,’ Mirosoft’s co-founder and billionaire, Bill Gates, spoke of about what it’s going to take the make the planet a better place.

Gates admitted that despite the fact that improvements in technology do have their benefits, they won’t meet the needs of the world’s most desperate.

“I certainly love the IT thing,” Gates said. “But when we want to improve lives, you’ve got to deal with more basic things like child survival, child nutrition.”

“PCs are not, in the hierarchy of human needs, in the first five rungs,” he later added.

Gates’ comments follow last month’s remarks from Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and a group of other tech moguls – who refferring to Internet connectivity as a humanitarian concern – promised to bring Internet access to the entire world.

“The Internet is an important foundation in improving the world,” Zuckerberg said of the plan back in August.

When asked by the publication whether Internet connectivity is more important than, for example, finding a vaccination for malaria, Gates responded: “As a priority? It’s a joke.”

“If you think connectivity is the key thing, that’s great. I don’t,” he added.

He went on, explaining: “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.”

It’s not a secret that the Microsoft co-founder has been an active advocate for malaria research for years.

According to The Huffington Post, Gates, who is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has invested billions of dollars for improving healthcare and fighting poverty in developing countries.

The focus of the programme was concentrated on tackling infectious diseases like malaria, HIV and polio.

“The malaria parasite has been killing children and sapping the strength of whole populations for tens of thousands of years,” Gates said back in 2011.

“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.”

The mogul also suggested that learning to work in that world is one of the greatest adjustments.

“The fact that people don’t understand numbers and systems thinking and science and logic, that’s OK,” Gates said.

“I only need a half of the people who contribute to really think in a way where I can say, hey, come on, there’s a theory of change here, do you get it, do you get if that piece doesn’t happen, it completely messes up that piece?”

Gates positions himself as a true optimist, admitting, however, that the fight with the US government seriously challenged his belief that the best outcome would always prevail.

Microsoft’s former CEO declared that governments have “worked pretty well on balance in playing their role to improve the human condition” and that in the US since 1776, “the government’s played an absolutely central role and something wonderful has happened”.

“The closer you get to it and see how the sausage is made, the more you go, oh my God! These guys don’t even actually know the budget. It makes you think: can complex, technocratically deep things – like running a healthcare system properly in the US in terms of impact and cost – can that get done? It hangs in the balance,” he concluded.

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