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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Technology Alone Will Not Save the World: Lessons from the 2015 Gates Letter

Suvojit Chattopadhyay's picture

Melinda and Bill Gates have made an annual tradition of publishing their thoughts on international development and its key challenges. Given the substance, I assume these letters reflect an annual manifesto for the organisation they head, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Last year, I wrote about how the Gates Annual Letter was disappointing, perhaps not in the context of what the BMGF itself does, but what it ought to be doing, given its $42 bn muscle and its influential promoter, Bill Gates.

This year, the letter makes four “big bets” for 2030: child deaths will go down by half, and more diseases will be eradicated than ever before; Africa will be able to feed itself; mobile banking will help the poor radically transform their lives; and better software will revolutionise learning. In short, fast-tracking the identification ­technological fixes and expanding their reach over the next fifteen years will deliver a better world.

Unfortunately, these bets seem to me to be wildly optimistic. I may be quibbling, but from what we have learnt from research, there seem to be many reasons to suggest that we should be cautious with our optimism regarding what we can achieve with technology. The complexities of working on power, politics and implementation find no mention in the letter. Let us look a little more closely at each one of the bets to find out why that matters so much.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Mashable
Will Killing Google Reader Increase Global Censorship?

“After Google unceremoniously announced it would be killing Reader later this year, much of the outraged response focused on its use in the U.S.

But there's a whole other aspect to the service: for thousands of users around the world, it's one of the few ways they can get around their country's censors.”  READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Building a Toilet Fair - Day 1

“Usually, Sunday would see the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Seattle campus empty save for a duck or two, and maybe a few zealous weekend workers. However, this last week was another story entirely. The campus was buzzing as exhibitors from around the world started to set up toilet prototypes for the upcoming Reinvent the Toilet Fair.

The Reinvent the Toilet Fair held August 14-15, 2012 at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Wash. showcases innovations from around the world that are creating a new vision for the next generation of sanitation. The fair aims to inspire collaboration around a shared mission of delivering a reinvented toilet for the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to safe and affordable sanitation.

Here's a look behind the scenes during day 1 of transforming our campus into a toilet fair.”  READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Nieman Journalism Lab
Deutsche Welle’s trying to use Africa’s mobile-phone boom to spread news by new means

“As the fastest-growing mobile market on the planet, Africa is facing huge opportunities — and distinct challenges — in news dissemination.

By the end of the year, it’s estimated that more than three-quarters of the population will be cell phone subscribers, including in places where literacy rates are low and electricity is unavailable. To better serve that demographic, German media giant Deutsche Welle is using over-the-phone voice technology to deliver news.

No Internet access necessary: Just dial a number to access the program Learning by Ear, an educational show for teenagers that mixes news and explainers having to do with health, politics, the economy, the environment, and social issues.”  READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Journalism
Report published on 'delivering trust' in digital age

“Former director of BBC News Richard Sambrook has called for "new ways to place a premium" on reporting that shows a focus on evidence, diversity and transparency, in a bid to "help rescue the core of what impartiality and objectivity delivered in the past" in a digital world.

In a report published today by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Sambrook asks whether there is a need for "different codes or journalistic norms for the digital age" in order to ensure trust in the media, particularly in light of the Leveson inquiry into the press in the UK and "debate about a ‘post-truth’ political environment in the US".

He identifies that the journalism industry is ‘in transition from the old analogue world of limited supply, where professional codes and regulation were effective in ensuring quality, to the digital age of plenty’.”  READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

One
The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance – you better take it seriously!

“In three weeks, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance will enter into force. The Charter was adopted by the African Union (AU) five years ago. Now that fifteen member states have ratified it, the Charter becomes legally binding and operational. Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Cameroon were the 13th, 14thand 15th countries to ratify the Charter. Why should we bother about this document? A Charter that was ratified in majority by countries that don’t lead by example in terms of good governance; a Charter that might be just another paper tiger without any teeths; one of a range of legal documents that don’t change anything about the real lives of African citizens?

Not quite.

The African Charter actually doesn’t contain many new elements. But, much more important, it summarizes and reconfirms existing African engagements on good governance that the continent’s leaders have taken over the last thirty years or so. And the Charter takes them a step further, in operationalizing their implementation. So instead of adding to the pile, it tries to rationalize the African good governance architecture and improve its translation into reality.” READ MORE