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Opinion Pieces Respond To FT Magazine Interview With Bill Gates

Financial Times Magazine on Friday published an exclusive interview with Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, about his views on whether technology can be used to “solve a tangle of entrenched and interrelated problems that afflict humanity’s most vulnerable: the spread of diseases in the developing world and the poverty, lack of opportunity and despair they engender.” According to the interview, “Bill Gates describes himself as a technocrat,” but “he is under no illusions that [access to the internet] will do much to improve the lives of the world’s poorest” (Waters, 11/1). “‘I certainly love the IT thing … But when we want to improve lives, you’ve got to deal with more basic things like child survival, child nutrition,’ Gates said” in the interview, Mashable notes (Strange, 11/5). The following is a summary of two opinion pieces written in response to the interview.

  • Paul Szoldra, Business Insider: “In a fascinating interview in Financial Times Magazine, Bill Gates took a shot at tech billionaires trying to provide internet connections in the developing world, dismissing their efforts as unimportant when compared to providing the basics like running water,” front page editor Szoldra writes. “It’s a not-so-thinly-veiled shot at tech giants like Google and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who wrote that ‘connecting the world is one of the greatest challenges of our generation’ back in August,” he continues. He notes Gates said in the interview, “Hmm, which is more important, connectivity or malaria vaccine? If you think connectivity is the key thing, that’s great. I don’t.” Szoldra writes, “Nowadays, it seems [Gates is] at odds with some in Silicon Valley who think tech is the way to save the world” (11/2).
  • Tim Worstall, Forbes: “I still would insist that connectivity is indeed what needs to happen and that it will be vastly more productive to worry about that than about any one other point,” Worstall, a Forbes contributor, writes. “Yes, even than malaria vaccines and the eradication of polio, hugely important subjects though those are,” he states, adding, “For the main problem in the world is not disease, nor malnutrition, nor education: it’s poverty. … Thus the great need of our time is to bring the tools of wealth creation to those places that don’t have it” (11/2).