The merging of technology and charity has the potential to improve both the current and future situations for those who are less fortunate for whatever reason. This is a concept with a major proponent — former Microsoft chief, Bill Gates. Gates recently authored an essay in Wired Magazine that details his plan to improve the world using information technology, and it is something where everyone is able to contribute.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the concepts raised by Gates.
Technology has Already Played a Significant Role in Improving Life on Earth
Gates reminds readers that technology advancements already influenced life on earth in a positive manner. Jonas Salk, the developer of the Polio vaccine, and the inventor of fertilizer each earn Bill’s praise. “Two out of every five people on Earth today owe their lives to the higher crop outputs that fertilizer has made possible. It helped fuel the Green Revolution, an explosion of agricultural productivity that lifted hundreds of millions of people around the world out of poverty,” writes Gates.
He points out that, despite some current unfortunate events in the news, like the Syrian Civil War, human life expectancy doubled over the last century, and more children than ever attend primary school. Technology remains the major reason behind this improvement in human life. According to Gates, the speed of this progress needs to improve though, and he is putting his significant amount of money where his mouth is, leveraging his foundation to foster innovation to make life on Earth better.
Gates Focusing on Poverty Globally and Education in the United States
Gates, through his foundation, is focusing his efforts on combating poverty and disease on a global scale, while improving education here in the United States. He calls his work “catalytic philanthropy,” using his large fortune in the particular places where it makes a difference. For example, using technology to improve the performance of teachers in the American classroom.
“As we talked with instructors about what they needed, it became clear that a smart application of technology could make a big difference. Teachers should be able to watch videos of the best educators in action. And if they want, they should be able to record themselves in the classroom and then review the video with a coach,” commented Gates.
His foundation primarily offers seed money to a variety of causes Gates feels can make a difference. He challenges everyone to help in this effort by contacting their congressmen, or — if they have a measure of technical ability — asking their workplace to allow time for the research of issues that help the impoverished or increase the efficacy of education. This is how information technology plays a role in improving life for those less fortunate.
“Technology is unlocking the innate compassion we have for our fellow human beings. In the end, that combination—the advances of science together with our emerging global conscience—may be the most powerful tool we have for improving the world,” concludes Gates.
If you’d like to find a charitable cause in the tech world you’d like to donate to, please check out this article for some ideas.