Annual Letter Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


In this annual letter of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation Bill Gates really focuses on vaccination. From my point of view they should focus more on technology that improves the peoples lives, like cell phones and cell phone batteries. Africa is one of the biggest user of the cell phone to pay bills and get information, i.e. as a local farmer that needs the prices for his crops or has to pay his electricity bill. Also in India the availability of Cell Phone networks improved the lives of the rural population in Kerala a lot. Just vaccinating the population will not necessarily improve their daily lives. Giving them more access to communications technology will.

It is critical that we understand in advance what might prevent an innovation from succeeding at scale. For work in developing countries, the lack of skilled workers or electricity might be a key constraint. For work with teachers, we need an approach to measuring their effectiveness that they will welcome as a chance to improve rather than reject because they think it’s more overhead or fear that it might be capricious. Even with the best efforts to make sure we understand the challenges, we need intermediate milestones so we can look at what we have learned about the technology or the delivery constraints and either adjust the design or decide that the project should end. We are focused on strong measurement systems and sharing our results where we have successes but also where we have failures. Innovation proceeds more rapidly when different parties can build on each other’s work and avoid going down the same dead end that others have gone down.

This would also speak for more Open Source Software.

Also cheap out of the box building-block housing with good insulation is not mentioned. Spraying the mosquito net with chemicals is cheap but also will give the people using those mosquito nets more allergies towards those chemicals used. If you can invent affordable housing with good insulation in Malaria areas then you can bring up the living standard and bring down the Malaria infection quote. Mosquitoes do not like room temperatures below a certain degree. Also see “Survival of the sickest”.

I do like the suggestion that teachers do not get any Feedback and so can hardly improve their skills, whereas students get feedback all the time. This is an imbalance in our education system worldwide. Curious if that can be solved with online learning.

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