Fixing the World’s Biggest Problems: Doable or noble?

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Though I found Bill Gates’ proposal noble and fairly logical, there is one large part of the process he failed to address: the benefit. Or, in other words, what is the incentive for addressing some of the world’s biggest problems?

Don’t get me wrong—as a whole, I completely agree with Gates’ plan. It’s true that feedback is a key catalyst in terms of innovation. In fact, the “process” Gates described—“setting clear goals, choosing an approach, measuring results, and then using those measurements to continually refine our approach”—is the exact process public relations uses to create a successful campaign. Communication theorists and practitioners across the world have proven this a legitimate approach, and I think it would work for the U.S. education idea he touched on.

Yet, one of the biggest problems public relations faces with implementing this process is funding. Research and measuring one’s objective compared to the results is expensive, not to mention usually time consuming. If we can’t get a multi-million corporate entity to buy into the benefit of measuring progress, how could we get international governments strapped for cash and trillions of dollars in debt to?

In essence, public relations works because the organization willing to pay for it eventually sees results. They get something out of it. But an organization helping out another for the goodness of global and human progress—the underlying assumption of Gates’ proposals to fix world problems—doesn’t see direct or immediate results. As ideal as it sounds, I just can’t see the U.S. government spending the time and money to measure and assess the global agricultural productivity without it directly benefitting them.

Perhaps I’m wrong (and maybe a bit cynical), which I’d love to be. I think Gates brings up a good point and one worth serious consideration. What do you think? Do you think his plan is actually doable?

3 Comments on “Fixing the World’s Biggest Problems: Doable or noble?”

  1. I agree with you. Love when people are questioning things. It is easy to say this is the way but more important is implementation, but at the end it is important when people which are powerful are thinking about those problems and trying to influence. So, we should stay critical but also see those kind of thinking a hope for the future.

  2. I think that you are right that charity needs funding, but I think that Gates is talking about making the most of money. He says without precision, invention would be left to random chance. Based on his article, I think that he is commenting on charity throwing money without keeping track of it. Some of those resources would be unaccounted for and a positive change would never happen. I have read Bill Gate’s biography. I take that he thinks like a businessman about everything. He wants to know where he is putting his money and how it is making a change, which is why he alludes to measuring minuscule things. Every minuscule part of it should be going towards change and there needs to be way to be accountable for it.

  3. It’s interesting that you looked at the article that way, because I saw Gates’ strategy as incredibly efficient for achieving global change. For those who put money into helping others, the system of identifying the problem and working towards a solution is the most successful strategy. However, your “if” raises a huge point. However, it’s not America that funds world change. International organizations with no boundaries are the groups that need these strategies, and they’re the groups that have the money (which they raise from just about everywhere) to make change happen.

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