Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates has criticized Google’s Project Loon project during an interview from this week. Gates said that Loon will not “uplift the poor.” Project Loon is intended to give people in developing countries access to the Internet by floating WiFi enabled balloons above them.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Gates said that Google’s Project Loon will not solve the core issues in developing countries. He added that Google should do more to help the poor instead.
“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 healthcare 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,” stated Gates.
Google disagreed with Bill Gates. Google said that Project Loon will connect the poor to the web without having to spend money on complex infrastructure. Google added that Project Loon could potentially help in the aftermath of a natural disaster in these areas.
Opinion: As one of the world’s largest philanthropists, I have a lot of respect for Bill Gates. Doing what he does is not easy and there is only so much that one billionaire can do. However, I believe that criticizing another company’s philanthropic initiatives does not seem constructive.
Maybe Gates should make a phone call to Larry and Sergey and come up with ways that they can work with each other on malaria instead of criticizing them. I am wondering if Gates is criticizing Google because Larry Page and Sergey Brin are not personally part of The Giving Pledge? Would he criticize Google for Project Loon if Brin and Page were part of his philanthropy club? Probably not.
Below is how Google Project Loon works: