July 8, 2014
Reducing Global Poverty Tops Zuckerberg’s Idea Of A Global Internet-Connected World
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
On Monday Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg offered his vision for a future where the Internet is available to all in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. While his pioneering vision for social media has made him a billionaire Zuckerberg believes that by connecting everyone in the world through the web it could create opportunity and reduce poverty globally.
"There have been moments in history where the invention of new technology has completely rewired the way our society lives and works. The printing press, radio, television, mobile phones and the Internet are among these. In the coming decades, we will see the greatest revolution yet, as billions of people connect to the Internet for the first time," Zuckerberg noted.
Currently he said that only a little more than one-third of the world is actually connected – but for those who use the Internet for work or socially it remains something that is taken for granted. He added that connecting the rest of the world is now one of the fundamental challenges for this generation.
Zuckerberg suggested that basic Internet services should be available to everyone, just as the 911 service is now available across America even if an individual hasn't paid for a phone plan.
"Connecting everyone in the world does more than share these benefits with billions of more people," Zuckerberg added. "Bringing the other two-thirds of the world online will enable them to invent and create new things that benefit us, too. If we can connect everyone, all of our lives will improve dramatically."
He noted that current Internet adoption has slowed to just nine percent per year, and suggested that smartphones won't solve the problem as the cost of a data plan is often much more expensive than the price of the device in many countries. However, he did add that almost 90 percent of the world does live within range of an existing cellular network. For those remaining 10 percent the problem isn't building completely new types of infrastructure said Zuckerberg but rather making it valuable and affordable.
In some ways that may run contrary to some Facebook efforts to wire the developing world. In March of this year the social networking giant moved forward with a plan to bring the Internet to the developing world through its Internet.org initiative, which could include the use of drones and other technology to connect the currently unconnected.
However, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has gone on record to suggest these efforts by Facebook – as well as rival Google – are misguided.
"I certainly love the IT thing," Gates told the Financial Times in the exclusive interview last November. "But when we want to improve lives, you’ve got to deal with more basic things like child survival, child nutrition."
In his WSJ op-ed Zuckerberg cited a recent study by Deloitte that found that expanding Internet access in the developing countries could potentially create 140 million jobs – which could lift as many as 160 million people out of poverty.
"This newfound opportunity would even meaningfully reduce child-mortality rates. Across sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, the Internet will help drive human progress," Zuckerberg added, and suggested that if successful the Internet would represent everyone.