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Gates Issues Call For "Creative Capitalism" 464

Posted by Soulskill
from the evidently-foss-is-a-little-too-creative dept.
theodp writes "Bill Gates makes his case for Creative Capitalism in TIME, citing projects like a Text-Free UI for illiterate computing, the use of Multimouse technology to allow fifty kids to share one computer display, cell phone billing by the second, and Bono's RED campaign as examples of the type of corporate creativity that can make the world a better place for the billion or so people scraping by on less than a dollar a day. Michael Kinsley, a former Microsoft employee whose wife still advises the Gates Foundation, says it's hard to object to Gates' goals, but notes that creative capitalism does have its share of skeptics, and points out that there was not a whole lot of energy devoted to lifting up the world's poor during Bill's three decades at Microsoft."
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Gates Issues Call For "Creative Capitalism"

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  • Text-free UI? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mangu (126918) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:10AM (#24455779)

    There's prior art on that. It was invented in ancient Egypt.

    Let's face it, text was invented for a purpose. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but they may not be exactly *the* thousand words you need to convey your information.

    • Re:Text-free UI? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:31AM (#24455899) Journal

      Let's face it, text was invented for a purpose. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but they may not be exactly *the* thousand words you need to convey your information.

      When you can't even count on the user/operator to have an 8th grade education, a dozen pictures is worth far more than 12,000 words.

      • by DaedalusHKX (660194) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:43AM (#24455987) Journal

        I've had to correct memos written by people with "degrees", not just that mythical 8th grade education. Know what? I've met 8th graders from that evil third world where they supposedly can't get by on a dollar a day. Strangely, they also can write coherent sentences... they even know the difference between "they're" and "their". Something most college grads seem to not know. Too bad you can't fire people (lovely government interventions) for having been too stupid to get value for their money when they shopped for "education".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by c6gunner (950153)

          they even know the difference between "they're" and "their". Something most college grads seem to not know. Too bad you can't fire people (lovely government interventions) for having been too stupid to get value for their money when they shopped for "education".

          The problems you're talking about are a result of NOT shopping for education in the first place. Proper spelling and grammar should be learned before the 8th grade - and most children up to that point attend public schools. You just made a pretty s

          • by StarkRG (888216) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .grkrats.> on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:17PM (#24458093)

            You just made a pretty strong argument for bringing in the voucher system.

            And see, here I was thinking that it made a pretty strong argument for putting MORE money into the public schools, not less.

            • by jlarocco (851450) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:52PM (#24458393) Homepage

              And see, here I was thinking that it made a pretty strong argument for putting MORE money into the public schools, not less.

              Clue: under a properly implemented school voucher system the total money spent on education remains the same or increases.

              Also, if the government is screwing up this badly already, what makes you think adding *MORE* government is going to help anything? Has that ever worked?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          when i was in university, our 1st year English course dedicated 2 weeks to the 3 there's.

          on the other hand, my middle school ESL students know the difference between 'they're', 'their', and 'there'.

          i spent 2 weeks in university on this stuff, while 14 year old Korean kids who can't speak English know their theirs.

      • When you can't even count on the user/operator to have an 8th grade education, a dozen pictures is worth far more than 12,000 words.

        Only if the pictures lead to more pictures. Which is kind of pointless if you are trying to write a letter.

    • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:33AM (#24455907)
      640 words should be enough for anyone.
    • Re:Text-free UI? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Esteanil (710082) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:35AM (#24455915) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, so let's get access to some of that text.

      Project: Open Source System for automatic user-initiated translation of blogs/articles/etc. Add a "Read this in:" which is autotranslated to location (GeoIP, etc) and a "Translate this". Basic idea being ad-sharing as payment for translating blogs. Open Source project, because I mainly just want to see more content out there, and translated content is great. Wiki-based.

      From the user's point of view: You enter a page, and see it in English. You're quite good at English in addition to Chinese, so you write a quick translation.

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:56AM (#24456087) Journal

      Speaking of ancient Egypt and writing, it's kinda funny... they actually invented a phonetic writing (hieratic) _before_ hieroglyphics, but preferred hieroglyphics anyway.

      It's kinda funny how many things about Egypt are contrary to what we take for granted, and what stuff like Civilizations teach us. We tend to think that inventing an alphabet was oh-so-vital and a major improvement over hieroglyphics, but Egypt invented them the other way around. And for a long time it was, along with Mesopotamia (where cuneiform was also hieroglyphic), at the forefront of science and technology.

      (Another anomaly about them was that they knew about coins all right, but preferred barter anyway. They first minted coins to pay some Greek mercenaries, and then continued to do so for external trade with the Greeks and Phoenicians. But internally they used barter until the Romans conquered them and forced them to. They were an economic powerhouse anyway.)

      So, well, maybe there is something to the idea that a picture is worth more. The Egyptians sure thought so :P

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        Speaking of ancient Egypt and writing, it's kinda funny... they actually invented a phonetic writing (hieratic) _before_ hieroglyphics

        Cite?

        As far as I know, they developed pretty much simultaneously, and were used at the same time, but for different purposes. Hieroglyphics were used to decorate pyramids and temples, while Hieratic was used for receipts, notes, messages, etc. Moreover, Hieratic was not a real alphabet either, it made use of logographic characters.

        We tend to think that inventing an alphabet

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Moraelin (679338)

          Imagine that! A stubborn people, ruled in tyranny by an emperor who is also a religious figure, continue to do things the old fashioned way instead of changing with the times. You NEVER see that happen! :)

          Way I see it,

          1. The "tyranny" argument is kinda fuzzy when applied to ancient times.

          Even for the Greek states, the larger mass of the citizens were usually (though not always) better off under a tyranny than under the democracy of rich slave-owners. Plus, it was democratic voting which led to excesses like

      • by Angst Badger (8636) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @01:00PM (#24457003)

        Egyptian hieroglyphic writing was largely phonetic, contrary to what is surprisingly common belief here. Some signs were logographic or ideographic, but the majority of signs were phonetic. Hieratic came after hieroglyphic, and was largely just a cursive form of hieroglyphics, used to write quickly in informal contexts. In any case, Egyptian used a far smaller set of signs than modern Japanese, which is also a mixture of phonetic, logographic, and ideographic signs. Alphabetic writing probably originated in the Levant as a simplification of Egyptian monoconsonantal signs, culminating in the Phoenician alphabet, which formed the basis of virtually all modern scripts of non-Chinese origin.

        Currency was simply unnecessary through most of Egyptian history. Ancient Egypt was a command economy and the overwhelming majority of its trade was internal. Under those circumstances, at least in a pre-industrial state, currency is a needless complication.

    • Because they would start thinking instead of working for Gates and his friends?
      Yeah, creative capitalism at its best.
      Or the beginning of Idiocracy?

      • by foobsr (693224)

        Because they would start thinking instead of working for Gates and his friends? Yeah, creative capitalism at its best. Or the beginning of Idiocracy?

        Though there does not seem to be much evidence (left) that literacy triggers thinking, I go for the option 'idiocracy'.

        Besides, it seems to be evidence of sorts that no one else realized your point.

        CC.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      A picture may be worth a thousand words, but they may not be exactly *the* thousand words you need to convey your information.
      If I didn't know better I would say this is this a subtle argument for RISC versus CISC.
    • Re:Text-free UI? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FilterMapReduce (1296509) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:26AM (#24456307)

      Let's face it, text was invented for a purpose. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but they may not be exactly *the* thousand words you need to convey your information.

      Indeed, this is related to text-based computing in a very direct way. Shell scripting (like all programming) is the practice of describing to the computer exactly what you want it to do—word for word, so to speak. Graphic UIs, for all their advantages, don't let the user give such specific instructions, forcing them to perform the individual steps themselves: click that file, move it here, click that file, move it there, executing the algorithm yourself instead of describing to the computer. Like the summary says, "illiterate computing" pretty much nails it on the head.

      Not that I'm bashing GUIs or saying that anyone who uses one is non-metaphorically "illiterate". Good GUIs are obviously indispensable in modern software, and with good reason. But they can never fully replace the expressive abilities of the command line. To swing back on-topic, a fully graphical UI for people who really are fully illiterate is a noble idea, but considering the limitations of a normal GUI, it would suffer serious drawbacks, to say the least.

      The literacy metaphor in comparing text-based and graphical interfaces is explored very nicely in "In the Beginning was the Command Line" [cryptonomicon.com] by Neal Stephenson.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      computers can talk, even with people pointing at the sentence or word they want to hear.

      a tutorial for reading a couple thousand words in local language would be a good thing to have in these laptops for poor countries.

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:15AM (#24455801) Journal
    That's a synonym for Open Source, Mr Gates.
    • by Cathoderoytube (1088737) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:45AM (#24455995)

      Funny thing about 'creative capitalism'.. Bill Gates owns one of the larger image banks on the internet right now. Unfortunately the current laws which allow the creative individuals who make money off their artwork on those image banks are costing Mr. Gates a portion of money (what with them owning the rights to their own work). SO he's currently one of the voices trying to get the copyright laws changed so any non-registered creative works become orphaned if their creators don't watch over them like a hawk (the current laws copyright everything by default and you don't have to pay money for it). If the law is changed all the works on those image banks will lose their copyright and Mr. Gates will be able to turn a profit on them, while all the creative people learn a hard lesson in capitalism.

      • by wellingj (1030460) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:53AM (#24456073)
        That's not capitalism. That's using government to get what you want by force.
      • by MrKaos (858439) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:21AM (#24456273) Journal

        If the law is changed all the works on those image banks will lose their copyright and Mr. Gates will be able to turn a profit on them, while all the creative people learn a hard lesson in capitalism.

        Thats no reason to question the sincerity of a man on a mission to relieve poverty while dressed in a $10,000 Armani suit.

        I always wondered what a Billion dollar Bill looks like.

  • by sylverboss (846288) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:16AM (#24455807) Homepage
    It's about time that cell phone companies introduce per second billing, but this is not going to happen anytime soon as it is a major part of their business... and fat profits. SB
    • Aerial Wireless was a smaller regional carrier that operated in the Southern US in the mid-to-late 90's. Their whole business plan was based around per second billing and their advertisements were based around various clever "real life" analogies to cell phone companies rounding to the minute. I believe they actually rounded to the 6 second mark, but I figure the effect was pretty much the same.

      They were bought out by Voicestream in 2001 or 2002; Voicestream subsequently changed its name to T-Mobile. I d

    • by xaxa (988988) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:47AM (#24456013)

      It's about time that cell phone companies introduce per second billing, but this is not going to happen anytime soon as it is a major part of their business... and fat profits.

      They bill per second in the UK (e.g. Orange [orange.co.uk], O2 [o2online.ie])

  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:16AM (#24455809)
    I think the only way a Gates innovation like "Creative Capitalism" will really take off is if it has a nice logo to indicate when something is Creative Capitalism compliant. I suggest two lowercase C's in a circle.
  • creative (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rpillala (583965) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:16AM (#24455813)

    What does this have to do with capitalism? Creativity isn't limited to any particular economic system.

  • Gotta monetize it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:23AM (#24455851)
    MS is obsessed with monetizing everything. Creative Capitalism is just their answer to Creative Commons, and Open Source. Public Domain they don't care much about because they can at least charge for access to the content or a conversion of the content depending on the platform.

    "It is mainly corporations that have the skills to make technological innovations work for the poor. "

    He means money, not skill, and if you are trying to help the poor, then you have to give them a way to survive despite not having money, not a way to keep depending on money and make that dependence even stronger. Who knows, maybe they are just interested on getting poor countries up to getting an economy going just so it's a new place to put up a toll booth or a new culture to start selling Windows to every hear, and if they develop these markets then they will start funneling money towards MS or at least not investing time/energy/mindshare in OSS.

    The OLPC may not have succeeded with its goals but it at least had the right philosophy: Start making the third world independent and self sufficient, get people to discover and collaborate on their strengths, and to build themselves up without reliance on those who are already self sufficient. For developing countries it is very important to come up independent so others don't come in and take advantage of you whenever you have gained any amount of wealth. It's a lot harder to be taken advantage of, and you also have more bargaining power in the world forum, if you are independent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      >Who knows, maybe they are just interested on getting poor countries up to getting an
      >economy going just so it's a new place to put up a toll booth or a new culture to start
      >selling Windows to every hear, and if they develop these markets then they will start
      >funneling money towards MS or at least not investing time/energy/mindshare in OSS.

      Did I miss something?
      What's the problem with this? It sounds like both parties involved benefits greatly.

    • by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:40AM (#24455961)

      You have completely missed the point. I'm guessing you just read the title, not even the summary! This is not Bill Gates speaking on behalf of Microshaft, this is Bill Gates speaking on behalf of good conscience, one of the greatest foundations in existence, and a complete understanding of the corporate world.

      We'd all love to give money to help the world, but we all also happen to want/need it as well. It's hard for businesses to give money away because their job, their entire purpose, is to make it for themselves.

      Take the example of the RED campaign, as given up-top. They managed to sell something (absurd, imho) that people buy, thereby making more money (and, presumably, problems) for them and their stockholders, but meanwhile a portion of all the profits goes to AIDS work.

      That is Creative Capitalism.

      Gates understands that you can't just throw money at a problem, you need to create a project that is beneficial for all parties involved. He's suggesting we do more for ourselves by helping others.

      • by remmelt (837671)

        > It's hard for businesses to give money away because their job, their entire purpose, is to make it for themselves.

        Says who? Step one of "creative capitalism" (a term that shares the same level of bs as web2.0) should be the realisation that not everything a company does needs to make money.

      • by HalAtWork (926717)
        That's all fine, but his same philosophy has become Microsoft's philosophy and this is how they deal with the market, their competitors, and it's how they view consumers. Right from Bill's first letter biting the heads off of hobbyists, MS has pretty much followed that route.

        Anyway how are you using Bill's tax shelter as an argument? How about when MS has donated computers and software to schools, is the foundation as "nice" along the same lines as the charity expressed by MS itself?

        I also find it prett
  • lets be honest now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirShmoopie (1333857) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:24AM (#24455863)

    People scraping by on less than a dollar a day aren't going to be interested in anything like this.

    Ordinary priorities like eating, keeping a roof over their heads and trying not to get sick and die are likely to be far more important.

    Also, with all due respect to his charitable efforts, for which, if for little else, I respect him, what does he, as one of the richest men in the world, think he's doing saying what people in abject poverty want?

    I'd venture a guess that what they want is for a persons worth and entitlement to the basics of life to be unrelated to money.

    If we can afford to pour billions into a shallow fight to control Oil, We can afford to make life's basics free for anyone who asks.

    • by Bombula (670389) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:20AM (#24456263)

      If we can afford to pour billions into a shallow fight to control Oil, We can afford to make life's basics free for anyone who asks.

      I certainly agree with your sentiments, but the truth is that we can't afford to. There are simply too many people and there isn't enough wealth in the world. Capitalism's main problem is that it doesn't distribute wealth equitably. But it IS great at generating wealth. This was a main point Gates made in the article. But it isn't enough. We aren't wealthy enough, and the growth of wealth in our global economy is not enough to keep pace - even in theory - with past or present population growth to carry everyone forward adequately (i.e. with a standard of living acceptable by modern western standards) even if all wealth was distributed evenly. The easiest proof of this comes from the well-known study that showed if everyone one Earth consumed the same resources as the average American, we would need 3 Earths to generate the basic inputs of materials and energy - clearly an impossibility.

      My field of expertise happens to be international development, and one of the issues that has recently become impolitic to mention is population growth. We used to more openly recognize population growth as a major problem. Not so much now - you can conjecture why if you like. Regardless, population is and will continue to be the major obstacle standing in the way of broad-scale socioeconomic and environmental sustainability. There are just too many people.

      As one quick example, I worked in the Middle East for a number of years in several countries that were really close to an ideal development scenario: the governments had tons of money thanks to oil and low initial populations. It was basically a blank slate with a blank check - fantastic! Build roads here, power plants there, schools here, hospitals there. And things have gone really very well. But rather than enjoy a GDP per capita of something like $20,000, those countries now have GDP/c of something under $5,000. Why? Because Islam forbids birth control just like Catholicism, and the populations are growing at 15-25% annually.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gibbsjoh (186795)

        >Because Islam forbids birth control

        Um, no it doesn't. http://www.unh.edu/msa/familyp.htm [unh.edu]

        In fact there are condom factories in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and more or less every other Middle East nation. Now, the attitudes of the people regarding birth control is another matter, but please get your facts straight.

    • by houghi (78078) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:23AM (#24456289)

      Ordinary priorities like eating, keeping a roof over their heads and trying not to get sick and die are likely to be far more important.

      And what if they already have a roof and enough food? Or do you think that there are only two groups of people, starving people and people who have plenty and can easily pay for a new PC every year.

      This is basicaly the stage of 'learning a man to fish' instead of giving him a fish.

      Here [wikipedia.org] a smaple of a multi seat solution which still requires multiple monitors and costs 50% of what they would pay normaly. Now imagine removing 50% of the monitors, so that students have to work together on one monitor.

      Not only will this cause a drop in price, it will cause kids to work together and learn social skills at the same time and will learn what they need to learn better, because of the interaction with other kids.

      So this could benefit kids in shools everywhere, including the rich kids.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mysticgoat (582871)

      ...with all due respect to his charitable efforts, for which, if for little else, I respect him...

      Uh. I'd have more respect for his charitable efforts if he was giving away more money than he was taking in. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation consistently donates about half of its previous year's revenues. So his pile of money is growing only half as fast as it would if he didn't give any away. It isn't shrinking at all. A quick look at the tax law shows the reason: by giving away this little bit every year, B&MGF avoids having to pay a lot more in USA taxes.

      Mr. Bill used to dress like a geek

  • And now ladies and gentlemen... our newest innovation... the wheel-less man-powered transportation! The means of transportation of the future! Putting gasoline in the trunk? So passé!

    Combine now pleasure to utility by inserting food in your mouth, and use this new innovation to transport yourself for miles on end! Never will you curse at the traffic for being so slow again! Never will you have to empty your wallet at the gas station! The future is at your feet, or rather, the future is IN your fe

  • by Anonymous Coward

    is to furnish useful case studies of, "What would happen if some well-connected billionaire tried to solve some of the world's problems by..."?

    As opposed to actually solving them. But at least we learn something that we can discuss in a coherent way.

  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:33AM (#24455913)
    Every time there is a discussion about the Gates foundation, someone will predictably stand up and say that Gates is not a philanthropist because his actions as Microsoft CEO were not consistently philanthropic.

    I don't look to commercial corporations to be philanthropists. A commercial corporation is a voluntary collective of investors who want to maximize their financial investment. That's OK with me. If that investment is maximized then some of the individual investors will see a personal calling to use that money for philanthropy. This is what you see happening to Gates today. That is genuine and real. Corporate philanthropy, on the other hand, is most often a flim flam exercise in repairing ill will so the corporation will restore its ability to generate lots of revenue.

    So, give Gates a break. He's hugely rich. Now he's getting older and perhaps he has become more reflective about making a difference in the lives of people less fortunate than him. I'm not going to bust his balls for that.
    • by moteyalpha (1228680) * on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:48AM (#24456035) Homepage Journal
      I am not sure that you can separate a person from their past that easily. This is not a simple person and the motives that drive Bill are likely to be well beyond characterization in simple terms. Much like everybody, they have their personal slant on life and I am sure that he curses open source. I think that if he really wanted to fix some problems, he could give his money to a proven winner like open source technology that benefits everybody. The goal of business is to make profit and that is not -always- the best thing for people in general.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by khallow (566160)

        I am not sure that you can separate a person from their past that easily.

        I'm unclear why we're trying to seperate the person from their past. Rich people getting rich first then doing charity is a strong tradition going back millenia. Gates is notable in that his charity will probably be particularly effective, especially giving money to treat Third world diseases and parasites. I see no reason that Gates should jump on the latest fad. If he thinks he has a viable alternative to open source, then I see no reason he shouldn't try it.

        Further, I don't see the point of your remarks

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by QuietLagoon (813062)
      Every time there is a discussion about the Gates foundation, someone will predictably stand up and say that Gates is not a philanthropist because his actions as Microsoft CEO were not consistently philanthropic.
      .

      His actions as Microsoft CEO were not just "not consistently philanthropic", they were shown to be illegal.

      A commercial corporation is a voluntary collective of investors who want to maximize their financial investment. That's OK with me.

      It's OK with me so long as it is done legally.

      So

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Znork (31774)

      I don't look to commercial corporations to be philanthropists.

      It's not the purpose of corporations to be philanthropists. In fact, a corporation that can actually afford to be philanthropist is unlikely to be engaged in free market capitalism.

      The theory of free market capitalism has it that competition with the incentive of possible profit will enhance the efficiency of production so that everyone benefits from lower costs for more value. Most corporations are not interested in that; increasing efficiency i

    • See post reply to a similar post. [slashdot.org]

      [I begin to find Mr. Bill apologists as tiring as the astroturfers of a younger day, and I begin to wonder if they are being subsidized in a similar way.]

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      So basically, the ends justify the means?

    • Every time there is a discussion about the Gates foundation, someone will predictably stand up and say that Gates is not a philanthropist because his actions as Microsoft CEO were not consistently philanthropic.
      .

      His actions as Microsoft CEO were not just "not consistently philanthropic", they were shown to be illegal.

      A commercial corporation is a voluntary collective of investors who want to maximize their financial investment. That's OK with me.

      It's OK with me also, so long as it is done legall

  • by dangitman (862676) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:39AM (#24455953)

    A long-time practitioner of "creative bookkeeping" and "creative business practices" advocates "creative capitalism." What a shocker.

    I'm sure mob bosses would rather people call murder "creative surgery" too.

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:40AM (#24455965) Journal
    When you invest in solar, you can very likely get your money back and then some(if you invest in profitable solar companies). The key is solar is great to be corporate because corporations have a way to pushing things to their saturation point. Solar has no saturation point as long as there are stars in the universe. But for right now, we should at least be looking to capitalize on Earth's potential.

    Once we have abundant energy on Earth through Solar, we can use it in electric or hydrogen vehicles. With electric vehicles, we can transport the energy from one plant or another with only using human labor or electric trains. Once you have "free energy" powering vehicles, the cost of transportation gets less. When the cost of transportation gets less, the cost of food and water gets less. Also "free energy" by the coast can turn salt water into drinking water then vehicles can transport them inland.

    Right there, you just made an impact on many poor peoples' lives without actually donating any money. I think any geek who wants to use technology to solve the world's problems should look inward into conserving money so they can buy stock in profitable solar. I think you should do your research into different companies. I've found mine: nanosolar.com. The only problem is that they haven't gone public yet. So I save money. I'm pretty much broke, but at least I got the spirit of it all.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Once we have abundant energy on Earth through Solar, we can use it in electric or hydrogen vehicles. With electric vehicles, we can transport the energy from one plant or another with only using human labor or electric trains. Once you have "free energy" powering vehicles, the cost of transportation gets less. When the cost of transportation gets less, the cost of food and water gets less. Also "free energy" by the coast can turn salt water into drinking water then vehicles can transport them inland.

      The countries that don't have (and can't afford to maintain) 24/7 electricity aren't going to splash out for expensive solar arrays. And they're certainly not going to afford to build an infrastructure capable of sustaining electric or hydrogen cars.

      Solar is only affordable by the countries that don't really need it right now.

    • by houghi (78078)

      Also "free energy" by the coast can turn salt water into drinking water then vehicles can transport them inland.

      Why not use the way water is already transported to the homes of people?
      But obviously people buy water instead of drinking it out of the tab and that is deliverd by a truck. Often it is as good or better then bottled water.

      Except everybody says "Not where I live" and buy into the bullshit that has brought to them by marketing.

      Some interesting read here [wisebread.com] and there are many more sites that will expl

    • He should back all the left-of-field fusion research projects instead.

      If any of them produces a viable over-unity reactor, it would be the greatest contribution to world prosperity and hence peace and security. Ever.

      Yes, they may be long shots. But you could pay their funding out of the Gates Foundation petty cash and not miss it.

  • If there is such a great demand for multimouse, it should not be too hard to have this for Linux with things we have now. This should be pretty easy to do, compared with all the trouble Microsoft is talking about.
    What do we already have under Linux.
    Multi user login. Check. It is already possible to connect several people on the same machine with each their own monitor, mouse AND keyboard. http://www.linuxtoys.org/multiseat/multiseat.html [linuxtoys.org] and many other sites.
    It is already possible to have multiple workplace

    • It is already possible to connect several people on the same machine with each their own monitor, mouse AND keyboard.

      That's a good start. But seeing as how adding a monitor is still much more expensive than adding a keyboard and mouse, shouldn't it be possible to share monitors too?

  • by darjen (879890)

    I suppose that's better than calling for "creative government".

  • Gates' legacy (Score:2, Informative)

    by QuietLagoon (813062)
    Bill Gates is just trying to improve how the history books will view his life. Fortunately, his legacy of illegal activity, the stifling of innovation, and the draining of profits from the PC industry will outlive the recent attempts of his publicity staff to have him be seen as a humanitarian.
  • ...making Bill Gates and his cronies A LOT LESS POOR, however.

    As usual, 'creative capitalism' is only going to deepen inequalities (that's what Bill epitomises, after all - the obscene, not to mention illegal, enrichment of one man at the expense of society in general).

    • by c6gunner (950153)

      "As usual, 'creative capitalism' is only going to deepen inequalities (that's what Bill epitomises, after all - the obscene, not to mention illegal, enrichment of one man at the expense of society in general).

      Take it easy Mr. Castro ... you know how your blood pressure gets when you start on these rants ....

  • I don't care how large the display is 50 pointers on one display sounds like a poorly thought out solution for someone with no money.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ensure that everyone the world over can READ? I would think Literacy would be a far (far) more important skill that computer literacy, especially in parts of the world without as many computers. In first world countries there's just no excuse for illiteacy (other than severe, crippling learning disabilities). A computer even the illiterate can use is a fine goal, but ensuring universal literacy in at least one language for the entire world is better.

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @11:29AM (#24456331) Journal
    If they just ate him.
  • While it's true that Gates did not do nearly so much in the way of charity while at Microsoft, in his defense I see nothing wrong with spending all your energy growing a company and then later taking the time to use some of the profits earned for charitable pursuit.

    The issue I have is the way he earned his money, I have nothing against the fact he was focused on it for the time he was at Microsoft

  • Isn't Sugar pretty close to that Text-free UI stuff?
  • I agree that if Gates was going to do something for illiterates, then reading is much more important than operating icons. However I should point out that neurological impress techniques do work. This has been done before, when symbols with their respective text tags have been used to teach reading.
    Unfortunately, it doesn't stand alone and a carefully built support mechanism should accompany any kind of impress technique.
    For example, we know that the 'back' icon is an arrow pointing left. But that only make

  • Gate's legacy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @03:13PM (#24458061)
    Bill Gates is just trying to improve how the history books will view his life. Fortunately, his legacy of illegal activity, the stifling of innovation in th ePC industry, and the draining of profits from the PC industry will outlive the recent attempts of his publicity staff to have him be seen as a humanitarian.
  • by trawg (308495) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @10:14PM (#24461549) Homepage

    Rather than give illiterate people more reason to not learn how to read, why not make a Text-free UI to teach them how to read first?

    Dumbing everything down just seems like the wrong way to go about anything.

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