18 May 2005

Bill Gates the Benevolent

Bill gates_smallIt doesn’t seem so long ago that Bill Gates was being pilloried as the personification of evil. In fact, a quick Google search shows 29,200 matches for “bill gates” and antichrist. Scary, because I keep writing ‘quick Google search’ as if one were able to do it slowly and more thoroughly if required. Scary also because we all know that a goodly percentage of those 29,200 matches probably aren’t kidding; that many people actually believe all that semi-Christian, semi-new age numerological bullshit that suggests absolutely and incontrovertibly that William Gates III or maybe the Pope (or perhaps someone else) is definitely evil incarnate ‘cos it dun say so right there in the King James Version of the Bible.

Surely most free-thinking people now realise that this is probably not true. In fact, as massively wealthy business tycoons go, Bill seems a pretty good guy who keeps to himself and has an endearing geekiness that makes you realise that Revenge of the Nerds and Jimmy Neutron really are sophisticated allegory and that there’s still hope for those of us who’d rather blog than bungee jump.

In fact, through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill is one of the world’s most generous philanthropists, giving hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable causes. More than that, they give intelligently, not just throwing money at do-good causes, but selectively funding proposals from leading thinkers to address major world issues. The Foundation’s “grand challenges for global health” program has drawn so many quality responses that Bill recently announced an upgrade in funding from $200 million to $450 million. Now that’s health funding not be sneezed at.

I am sure that software really can be evil, and I offer as proof Microsoft PowerPoint. But as for Bill, I have little doubt that he has done more good for the world than all his critics put together.Go to eebahgum!


Richard said...

Well yes all is good on his giving front but what constitutes a reasonable profit? In Structural Engineering, clients (generally who have tons of money obtained by making large un-negotiated profits) generally get very concerned about Engineering companies making 0.25% profit.

A slight digression...I have a friend in the UK who works for Scott Wilson, a large Consulting Engineering firm who recently bid for a job and had lots of ideas the client liked but that the other bidders didn't include in their much lower bids. This then went to a second stage of bidding in which these quoted services were "released" to the floor. In other words all parties got a second chance to bid based on the increased service demanded - originally Scott Wilson's ideas. Scott Wilson's duly lost the bid to an undercutting competitor and can only bog off and lick their wounds. I like to see how much money Bill Gates would have made in a competitive Business environment (that borders on the negatively anti-competitive in the case of Engineering) - just imagine bidding for Microsoft products!! Hehe - MSWord? That'll be all of 10 quid - Why? I can get it from Hong Kong for 1/2 that. Don't like the fact that it's pirated Bill? Well it was your idea but we gave those ideas to your competitors and they kinda copied it. Such a great price though...

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