Slow inflight Wi-Fi? Barista got your latte order wrong? Let Bill Gates put that in perspective for you

The annual letter ( http:// from Bill and Melinda Gates is getting a lot of
press ( ) today. As well it should: The
two have put billions of their own money into
trying to make the world a better place for the
billion or so people who live in extreme poverty ( ) .

The letter is pretty inspiring, full of grand
ideas about making life less nasty, brutish, and
short. But it’s not all high-minded hope and
aspiration. There’s also a deflating bit of context
in there for those preoccupied with what might
be referred to as first-world problems ( ) :

> The rich world will keep getting exciting new
advances too, but the improvements in the lives
of the poor will be far more fundamental—the
basics of a healthy, productive life. It’s great
that more people in rich countries will be able to
watch movies on super high-resolution screens.

It’s even better that more parents in poor
countries will know their children aren’t going to

This isn’t the first time Bill Gates has tried to
bring some much-needed perspective
to prevailing narratives about how technology
can improve the world in the 21st century. In an
interview with the Financial Times ( )
(paywall) in 2013, the Microsoft co-founder
(and world’s richest man) spoke frankly about
the mission to bring internet connectivity to all the world ( ) , much-touted by the
world’s biggest tech companies:

“Hmm, which is more important, connectivity or
malaria vaccine? If you think connectivity is the
key thing, that’s great. I don’t.”

Author : Leo Mirani


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