Bill Gates doesn't think Google's Internet balloons will help sick kids

In June, Google revealed what it called Project Loon, a new program designed to offer Internet access to everyone on the planet, especially those people who are not currently able to access the Internet. The plan is to send balloons up to 20 kilometers in the air where they will have antennas attached that will be able to transmit Internet signals at 3G speeds to areas of the planet that cannot get such a connection.

Google claims that as part of Project Loon, many more people will be able to access medical information that could save lives. However, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who has ton of experience in helping third world citizens get better health care through the efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, isn't sold on Project Loon, at least as far as its medical benefits.

In a new interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Gates states:

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 is also critical of Google's overall charitable efforts via their Google.org group. Gates says that at first, Google.org was "going to do a broad set of things" but now Gates claims that the group has cut back on those goals. He added, "Now they’re just doing their core thing. Fine. But the actors who just do their core thing are not going to uplift the poor."

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek | Image via Microsoft

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft's Xbox One Day One unboxing video confirms headset is included

Next Story

Here is a closer look at the Xbox One headset

71 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Google's Balloon:
-cheaper of (in some cases) for free.
Gates's Vaccine:
-not for free and, sadly, not cheap.

In fact, in third world countries, vaccines are more expensive every year. It is a lucrative business and Bill is just jumping to it. Bill is just a businessman.

Stated earlier..."an Internet controlled pacemaker." That IS a very scary thought. Connection dies, you die. How nice and so very effective.

TsarNikky said,
Stated earlier..."an Internet controlled pacemaker." That IS a very scary thought. Connection dies, you die. How nice and so very effective.

Internet controlled pacemakers are not dependant on internet to work, they just send reports and alerts to a physician.

For those hating on Bill Gates for giving such an answer. Read the original article.

Its an interview about his foundation and the work he does with it, then was asked the following:

One of Google's (GOOG) convictions is that bringing Internet connectivity to less-developed countries can lead to all sorts of secondary benefits. It has a project to float broadband transmitters on balloons. Can bringing Internet access to parts of the world that don't have it help solve problems?

Where he responds to

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.

And he is right, the internet alone is NOT going to save hundreds of millions of people in the world. It might even do the opposite. We in the West have been with the internet for the last 20+ years and yet even today most people use it wrong and cause more problems then it cures. If all this money is spend for helping people, this money can be spend A LOT better then giving the average African clan member internet access.

Shadowzz said,
And he is right, the internet alone is NOT going to save hundreds of millions of people in the world. It might even do the opposite.

How about local doctors being now able to get instantly in touch with specialists thousands of kilometers away to help with diagnosis? Remote assistance during surgery? Instant access to the latest medical publications?

Internet alone won't solve every problem, but saying it won't help is utterly moronic.

Bill Gates does his philanthropy expecting nothing in return (hence, 'philanthropy'). Google on the other hand are expecting more Google users.

Still, nice for everyone to have internet, isn't it?

Edited by pmdci, Aug 8 2013, 5:53pm :

pmdci said,
Bill Gates does his philanthropy expecting nothing in return (hence, 'philanthropy').

Do you mean, how Bill Gates did a deal with pharmaceutics? (and not for free). Also is Bill Gates and Monsantos.

So where was Bill Gates when Microsoft partnered up with Intel for the $100 PC (ATOM Netbook)?

Screw you Microsoft you know how many sick children you could have helped.

deadonthefloor said,

I think he was off funding the eradication of polio.

I could be wrong tho


How convenient. He wasn't making fun of Microsoft because he announced to the whole world how much money he donated when other people just donate without recognition.

Its all just a Google publicity stunt anyway. This is going to help people in the third world about as much as giving them a subscription to MAD magazine would.

OK Bill. You're company is dieing and all your doing is sitting your wealthy fat ass in your gold rocking chair. How about you comment on that.

wingliston said,
......

What is this all about?
I never said it had anything to do with MS.

All I was saying was there was an MSR project which relied on 3G connectivity. Floating balloon internet could further reduce the cost of that initiative.

And yes, I do agree, Bill Gates is amazing.

UltraKill said,
OK Bill. You're company is dieing and all your doing is sitting your wealthy fat ass in your gold rocking chair. How about you comment on that.

Before you talk out of your a** again, I recommend you Google for Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and stop embarrassing yourself.

pmdci said,

Before you talk out of your a** again, I recommend you Google for Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and stop embarrassing yourself.

Gates and vaccines patents, seeds patents, privatizing the education also is involved with lobbyist scam.

Brony said,

Gates and vaccines patents, seeds patents, privatizing the education also is involved with lobbyist scam.

Is he hiding the Roswell alien as well? What a bunch of horsecrap.

wingliston said,
Just give them the money. Internet wont help anything.

Giving money is not the answer.
You need to understand the politics in these areas. The money would not wind up in the hands of those who need it most.

Social programs and working with established organizations like the red cross are the way to impact the lives of these individuals.

Money is a means to an end not the end all be all.

Throwing currency at the people would be like giving a man a fish.
Teach him to fish, and you've fed him for life.

CygnusOrion said,
More embarrassment of a Microsoft man ragging on a new kid(Google). Like when Steve Ballmer curb stomped an iPhone.

Cygnus you certainly have a hatred for Microsoft. Perhaps you should seek professional help about that.

Just remember, kids, Bill was asked a question, and he answered it. He didn't seek out a podium to talk down at Google from.

From some of these comments, I guess some people needed something new to rag on Google about. Seriously, a company does something for free and they get bashed for it.

Pathetic.

And whats also amazing is people think that every charitable event needs to either mirror someone elses, or out do someone elses. The fact is it is charitable, Google doesnt have to do this, so get over it.

What's actually really sad is the main part of Gate's comment was this:

Gates is also critical of Google's overall charitable efforts via their Google.org group. Gates says that at first, Google.org was "going to do a broad set of things" but now Gates claims that the group has cut back on those goals. He added, "Now they're just doing their core thing. Fine. But the actors who just do their core thing are not going to uplift the poor."

He's MAINLY against how Google promised a lot, but then cut out a lot and are only delivering on a few things. But hey this is Neowin, got to post trashy articles with flamebait headlines to get views.

That's a pretty sad comment coming from Bill himself. And it makes me very sad that these people could do so much together but still they only end up belittling each other all their lives.

Mohitster said,
That's a pretty sad comment coming from Bill himself. And it makes me very sad that these people could do so much together but still they only end up belittling each other all their lives.

He has always been incredibly biased.

I congratulate Bill Gates and Melissa for all the work they do. They seem genuine with it too - to actually care rather than a tax write-off or such. But here's a little secret:

Not everything is about sick kids. Moreover, pushing connectivity across the planet isn't mutually exclusive to caring about sick kids.

Gasp

Nik Louch said,
Not everything is about sick kids. Moreover, pushing connectivity across the planet isn't mutually exclusive to caring about sick kids.

Gasp

Exactly. Loon was intended to get internet to those who cannot currently get it. Not to help sick kids and cure diseases.

Oh, I think you mean Melinda, not Melissa.

This is a bit touchy coming from Bill... I'm all for what Bill is doing. Down in the trenches with the sick and getting them the proper treatment that is needed.

Maybe Google is trying to help in a different way. Instant information to a 3rd world country can be beneficial. Information that would normally take longer to access without capable internet speeds (I know it's 3G, but better than nothing), can now be retrieved more quickly.

I say, if all of these $$$ Billionaires help in the world in some kind of way, it will benefit humanity as a whole.

Google: Internet Access to 3rd world countries so that information can be retrieved quickly
Oprah: Schools for the poor in Africa
Bill&Melinda Gates: Medicine to the sick in 3rd World countries.
Warren Buffett: Cuts checks for LOTS OF $$$$ to Bill and Melinda Gates foundation


Now imagine if Zuckerberg, or the Telecom King of Mexico, and a few other billionaires pitched in a few dollars of their money as well... The world will will notice change.

trek said,
"...internet ballons" (sic)

nice headline.


I used the Report a problem link that appears under Johnny America's name when you hover over it in the author spot.

this is from the article here


Google claims that as part of Project Loon, many more people will be able to access medical information that could save lives.

vcfan said,
this is from the article here

Because a Neowin writer says so, doesnt mean that is what Google said. Companies backing Project Loon have said that (Like Raven Industries).

Google stated it was to provide cheap/free internet for those who cannot afford to run cable, have no internet access, or no stable access.

Unless I missed something in my search, Google didnt say it would save lives

vcfan said,
this is from the article here

"Google claims that as part of Project Loon, many more people will be able to access medical information that could save lives."


I don't remember Google saying that, but it is true. What's wrong with that that?

vcfan said,
good job google, broscience is going to help sick children. more like kill them.

did you basically say these balloons will kill children? That's gotta be the (BLOCKED BY NEOWIN COMMUNITY RULES) I've ever heard.

AWilliams87 said,

I don't remember Google saying that, but it is true. What's wrong with that that?

Because it's marketing spin to the max.

If you want to save kids lives, there are better ways than hanging internet baloons in the air.

I thought it was more for literacy than sick kids. If Google tried to say it would help sick kids it's a bit misleading

The Project Loom video seemed to suggest that people without the Internet would be able to contact a doctor via the Internet with Project Loom

I wonder how many medical books you can distribute for the cost of one of these balloons. It's like the ridiculous PR stunts of passing out computer tablets when good old print can provide far more resources to far more people.

Spicoli said,
I wonder how many medical books you can distribute for the cost of one of these balloons. It's like the ridiculous PR stunts of passing out computer tablets when good old print can provide far more resources to far more people.

You're saying a book can offer more information than the internet?

AWilliams87 said,

You're saying a book can offer more information than the internet?
Yes, it can. To be exact: it gives more accurate data than the uncontrolled internet, it's way more easy to spread arround the world,'cus, you know, you can have internet all over the world, but you need something else to actualy use it: a PC. And do you realy think those people can buy that? That even Bill Gates has enough money to give all those people a PC? And even after that, you still need the stuff to cure your illness. Books are a way better way. We have done that to, we had books before the internet (we still have) and they need to do that too, you can't skip a step in evolution.

AWilliams87 said,
You're saying a book can offer more information than the internet?
I mean, books were only used for all information up until the late 90's early 2000's. You know, they're portable, require no power, no hardware, that kind of stuff. So sure, they can float the internet in the air, but without a device and power to access that internet it's pretty much useless.

Studio384 said,
Yes, it can. To be exact: it gives more accurate data than the uncontrolled internet, it's way more easy to spread arround the world,'cus, you know, you can have internet all over the world, but you need something else to actualy use it: a PC. And do you realy think those people can buy that? That even Bill Gates has enough money to give all those people a PC? And even after that, you still need the stuff to cure your illness. Books are a way better way. We have done that to, we had books before the internet (we still have) and they need to do that too, you can't skip a step in evolution.

Your reply has so much embedded inaccuracies, it's difficult to know where to begin.

One assumption you make is that you need a PC, which I suppose you mean laptop or desktop, to access the "uncontrolled" internet without considering alternative internet accessible devices. You're also assuming every member of these areas needs a device, which is untrue. An internet-connected pacemaker, for example, can do a lot more to save someone's life than a book on the subject can. Just the ability to alert near by doctors, via the "uncontrolled" internet, is extremely useful.

No unbiased and knowledgeable person should ever claim a book offers more information than the "uncontrolled" internet. All of the information offered in those books are available online. There are nothing special about books which makes them immune to inaccuracies. We also shouldn't overlook what the future of low-powered internet devices hold. Perhaps a low cost internet-connected devices would be able take blood work, then send it back for processing, via the internet, if such a device doesn't already exist.

AWilliams87 said,
No unbiased and knowledgeable person should ever claim a book offers more information than the "uncontrolled" internet. All of the information offered in those books are available online. There are nothing special about books which makes them immune to inaccuracies. We also shouldn't overlook what the future of low-powered internet devices hold. Perhaps a low cost internet-connected devices would be able take blood work, then send it back for processing, via the internet, if such a device doesn't already exist.

1. If you give them internet they have to learn how to use it and have resources in their native language. There aren't going to be too many websites offering all the information they need in some regional language in a dirt poor country that didn't have much of any internet access until it was gifted to them.

2. What exactly are they going to look up online that's going to help them medically? How is somebody who has a third grade education going to be able to separate all the BS on the internet from the truth? Hell, what if they can't even read much less use the internet?

There is far, far more to be done that just dumping internet on a population. I also agree that giving them books--which have a static set of information that can be verified and doesn't take much of any training to use--would be far more effective. You can't just warp people to the finish line.

Solid Knight said,

1. If you give them internet they have to learn how to use it and have resources in their native language. There aren't going to be too many websites offering all the information they need in some regional language in a dirt poor country that didn't have much of any internet access until it was gifted to them.

2. What exactly are they going to look up online that's going to help them medically? How is somebody who has a third grade education going to be able to separate all the BS on the internet from the truth? Hell, what if they can't even read much less use the internet?

There is far, far more to be done that just dumping internet on a population. I also agree that giving them books--which have a static set of information that can be verified and doesn't take much of any training to use--would be far more effective. You can't just warp people to the finish line.


The internet isn't just the web. You don't necessarily need to view a web page to take advantage of the it. Most of your replies assumed I was talking about the web portion of the internet; if you re-read everything I wrote, I was thinking much more broadly than that.

Nonetheless, donating used books to Africa has been going on now for decades with no measurable gain. Even if Google stepped up efforts in that area, it still wouldn't approach the possibilities of being able to connected online. It's difficult to go on and explain what I want to say because of the way you people are fundamentally. You think and approach problems very statically, as if answers to your questions cannot be discovered. You're telling me that a small/cheap Google tablet with a simple and easy to use medical app wouldn't be sufficient to answer your number two question? Even if you disagree with that, there are still many possible alternative solutions than to continue to donate books.

AWilliams87 said,

Your reply has so much embedded inaccuracies, it's difficult to know where to begin.

One assumption you make is that you need a PC, which I suppose you mean laptop or desktop, to access the "uncontrolled" internet without considering alternative internet accessible devices. You're also assuming every member of these areas needs a device, which is untrue. An internet-connected pacemaker, for example, can do a lot more to save someone's life than a book on the subject can. Just the ability to alert near by doctors, via the "uncontrolled" internet, is extremely useful.

No unbiased and knowledgeable person should ever claim a book offers more information than the "uncontrolled" internet. All of the information offered in those books are available online. There are nothing special about books which makes them immune to inaccuracies. We also shouldn't overlook what the future of low-powered internet devices hold. Perhaps a low cost internet-connected devices would be able take blood work, then send it back for processing, via the internet, if such a device doesn't already exist.

You, too, are making major assumptions. The point is a device must be powered and available to those in the bush. And yes, unless you have a computer with power a book offers more information.

MrHumpty said,
You, too, are making major assumptions. The point is a device must be powered and available to those in the bush. And yes, unless you have a computer with power a book offers more information.

If you could read, I mentioned low-powered many times. For example, internet-connected pacemakers last 10 years without needing new batteries. This is also true with many other small, low-powered devices. So what again are you saying? Books rip and tear more easily than these devices need to recharge.

AWilliams87 said,

You're saying a book can offer more information than the internet?

Is "more" the important thing? You want accurate, concise, and 100% availability. For the cost of just one computer, you can buy cases of books that will not break down, do not need electricity, and will not be a target for thieves.

Spicoli said,

Is "more" the important thing? You want accurate, concise, and 100% availability. For the cost of just one computer, you can buy cases of books that will not break down, do not need electricity, and will not be a target for thieves.


"Far more" is the exact phrase the OP used, so that's what we went on. Nonetheless, like I said prior, the internet isn't simply the web. It's not just something you use to read pages. If you read my prior post, I tried to make this very clear.

AWilliams87 said,

If you could read, I mentioned low-powered many times. For example, internet-connected pacemakers last 10 years without needing new batteries. This is also true with many other small, low-powered devices. So what again are you saying? Books rip and tear more easily than these devices need to recharge.
That, in itself, is an assumption. Do you believe a slew of pacemakers will be thrown at Africa. The problems there are less about pacemakers and more about food and basic medicine/vaccine.

Now, to take your defining scenario to task. Those devices, the pacemakers, require a "home base" that the device talks to that then talks to the internet. Those need, you guessed it, power. Anything that will transmit and receive from a ballon will need a significant power source. More importantly, that's just for alerting doctors, the pacemaker will work fine w/o the transmitter and is completely suitable for the current state of Africa's internet access.

http://www.gizmag.com/wireless...-internet-monitoring/12549/

So lets be clear, again, it has to do with power and appropriate devices. Books > than the balloon internet. And even if not, the capital used for those balloons used to facilitate clean water systems, sanitary education, self sustaining food projects in the area would have greater effect.

But, this is Google's money and if they want to do it I'm game. Who knows what applications will end up being used. But I'd be willing to guess those who are starving for food and water could give two ****s if they can access wikipedia. And they certainly would trade crates of food for that base station telling a doctor in the UK their pacemaker isn't working properly.

MrHumpty said,
That, in itself, is an assumption. Do you believe a slew of pacemakers will be thrown at Africa. The problems there are less about pacemakers and more about food and basic medicine/vaccine.

Now, to take your defining scenario to task. Those devices, the pacemakers, require a "home base" that the device talks to that then talks to the internet. Those need, you guessed it, power. Anything that will transmit and receive from a ballon will need a significant power source. More importantly, that's just for alerting doctors, the pacemaker will work fine w/o the transmitter and is completely suitable for the current state of Africa's internet access.

http://www.gizmag.com/wireless...-internet-monitoring/12549/

So lets be clear, again, it has to do with power and appropriate devices. Books > than the balloon internet. And even if not, the capital used for those balloons used to facilitate clean water systems, sanitary education, self sustaining food projects in the area would have greater effect.

But, this is Google's money and if they want to do it I'm game. Who knows what applications will end up being used. But I'd be willing to guess those who are starving for food and water could give two ****s if they can access wikipedia. And they certainly would trade crates of food for that base station telling a doctor in the UK their pacemaker isn't working properly.


My reply to the OP was about books vs the internet, so lets not try to introduce a slue of other proposals, in which money could be spent on, that has nothing to do with my reply.

You people are just incredible though. 402-405 mhz frequencies still takes little power to transmit. Solar-powered radio transmitters already operate on the band. Why can't they be used?

Again, like I said prior: "You think and approach problems very statically, as if answers to your questions cannot be discovered." It's as if you're going out of the way to prevent the idea of internet in Africa being effective. I don't know if it's because you're biased, or you lack imagination and creativity. If they don't "give two ****s if they can access wikipedia", then books wouldn't matter either, rending your replies meaningless.

Studio384 said,
Yes, it can. To be exact: it gives more accurate data than the uncontrolled internet, it's way more easy to spread arround the world,'cus, you know, you can have internet all over the world, but you need something else to actualy use it: a PC. And do you realy think those people can buy that? That even Bill Gates has enough money to give all those people a PC? And even after that, you still need the stuff to cure your illness. Books are a way better way. We have done that to, we had books before the internet (we still have) and they need to do that too, you can't skip a step in evolution.

Wow dude. Just no. You know most people, even in poor countries have mobile phones now right? They're not iPhone 5s or Lumia 1020s, sure, but still the majority of people have access to a device that can access the internet, even if its through a friend.

Are you seriously trying to say that books are easier to spread around the world than the internet? I don't think I really need an argument for this one. They aren't, and they're a lot more expensive than I think you think too. I know you think that people in poor countries don't have technology, but they have a lot more internet enabled devices than you would think. They are lacking internet access.

There are a million more arguments but I have a feeling its pointless to continue.

I am speaking as someone that has volunteered to work in a country helping kids at school and build part of villages. They do have devices in the school. They do not have internet though. They learn on the devices just like young kids here, do learning games, learn LANGUAGES (mostly french or english or spanish), music, and it helps the teachers alot too.

NO this does not cure any illness but it for LEARNING. Guess what I went there to volunteer, I did not medically help them but I did other things. Instead of giving the kids meds for diarrhea why not show them how to use water tablets to make drinking water, teaching them how to grow and cultivate plants.

moloko said,
I am speaking as someone that has volunteered to work in a country helping kids at school and build part of villages. They do have devices in the school. They do not have internet though. They learn on the devices just like young kids here, do learning games, learn LANGUAGES (mostly french or english or spanish), music, and it helps the teachers alot too.

NO this does not cure any illness but it for LEARNING. Guess what I went there to volunteer, I did not medically help them but I did other things. Instead of giving the kids meds for diarrhea why not show them how to use water tablets to make drinking water, teaching them how to grow and cultivate plants.

You're wasting your time arguing here. As correct as you are, the younger generation want to "teach" you about how the internet works.