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Microsoft Science

Bill Gates Unleashes Swarm of Mosquitoes 841

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the ok-that's-awesome dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates released a glass full of mosquitoes at an elite Technology, Entertainment, Design Conference to make a point about the deadly sting of malaria. 'Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,' Gates said while opening a jar on stage at a gathering known to attract technology kings, politicians, and Hollywood stars. 'I brought some. Here I'll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.'" Say what you will about the guy, that is showmanship. Well done.
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Bill Gates Unleashes Swarm of Mosquitoes

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:39AM (#26736081) Journal
    Releasing bugs into the wild while complaining about viruses.

    Although this time around, I'm on his side.
    • by noundi (1044080) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:45AM (#26736137)
      Agreed. I only wish his words were "Say hello to my little friends." instead. Anywho, cudos there Billy.
    • by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:48AM (#26736185) Journal
      That's funny... however he was not complaining about viruses. Malaria is cause by small protozoa [wikimedia.org] (single-celled organisms). Viruses don't have cells.
      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:41AM (#26736897)
        A cell's too good for a virus. We should just kill 'em and be done with it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        So when your computer is part of a botnet you can say "my computer got bit by a Microsquito and now it has a protozoa"?

        This new good guy image of Gates is puzzling to me. I read his dad, a lawyer, had to shame him into starting his philanthropic organization. Did the three hhosts of Christmas visit Ebeneezer Gates last year?

  • Been done (Score:5, Funny)

    by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:41AM (#26736103) Homepage Journal

    Bill does this all the time at the office for target practice for Ballmer.

  • Consistent (Score:5, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:43AM (#26736121)

    Jeez, even his philanthropy has bugs!

  • by yorgo (595005) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:44AM (#26736125)
    If he ever gives a speech about rabies, I'm not going...
  • by stokessd (89903) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:45AM (#26736133) Homepage

    "...politicians, and Hollywood stars" Those types will suck the juices out of those poor helpless mosquitoes.

    Dear god, won't somebody think of the mosquitoes?!

    Sheldon

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Greyfox (87712)
      No kidding! The majestic malaria mosquito once roamed the plains in swarms of billions! Today due to eradication efforts and environment encroachment, they roam the plains in swarms of hundreds of millions! Something must be done to stop the slaughter of the helpless malaria mosquito!

      Anywhoo wish I were there to provide a note of irony as the UNIX guy who calmly orders a Gin and Tonic [wikipedia.org] and goes back to ignoring Bill Gates' bugs and viruses...

  • Assault ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by redelm (54142) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:45AM (#26736145) Homepage
    This willful act could be considered assault by one of the attendees and BillG arrested. Even if not stung. Worse for him, this conceivably could come under US federal terrorism laws.

    Some people are allergic to mosquito bites even if the mosquitoes are disease-free. Harm is not necessary in most states to convice for assault (that's battery). Just the threat of harm.

    • Re:Assault ! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:59AM (#26736343)
      This willful act could be considered assault by one of the attendees and BillG arrested. ... Some people are allergic to mosquito bites even if the mosquitoes are disease-free.

      I bet they were mosquitoes that don't bite at all, eg ones that just eat nectar. In any case only the females suck blood. (Pause for jokes...) If anyone had been bitten I'm sure we would have heard of it pretty quickly -- who wouldn't like to sue Bill Gates?

      • Re:Assault ! (Score:5, Informative)

        by redelm (54142) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:09AM (#26736443) Homepage
        Even if they don't bite, he threatened and deliberately generated fear. That is the essence of assault. People get convicted using toy guns.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by fubar1971 (641721)
          Kind of like taking a chainsaw to a horror/slasher flick, even though you removed the chain.
        • Re:Assault ! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:16AM (#26736547) Homepage Journal

          Drug dealers and minorities do, WASP billionaires don't.

          • Re:Assault ! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:06AM (#26737333) Homepage

            As someone who grew up around poor white people, I find your statement offensive. "The system" treats all poor people badly, regardless of ancestry (see sig).

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              Though I surely sympathize with poor white people, and am saddened by the state of all those struggling to get by, statistics show they suffer less than their counterparts in terms of law prosecution. Racism still exists (I need only listen to my father-in-law rant...), though I hope one day everyone sees race like Peter does.

              Characteristics of State Prison inmates

              * Women were 6.6% of the State prison inmates in 2001, up from 6% in 1995.
              * Sixty-four

              • Re:Assault ! (Score:5, Informative)

                by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @01:42PM (#26740375) Homepage

                The statistics you quote simply do not support the argument you are making because they do not control for income.

                I do not know if it is the case that you honestly do not understand statistics, or that you are using sophistry to push an agenda. Either way, your error should be obvious to an educated person.

        • Re:Assault ! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Hijacked Public (999535) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:32AM (#26736789)

          So? Poor people get convicted using toy guns. Gates could have doubled his cool creds in this demo by telling the audience that poor people also can't get away with loosing a swarm of mosquitos on a bunch of important people, but he sure can.

          It is ufortunate that it takes someone who is very well off to do this kind of thing. There is a 0.01% chance that anyone from the crowd could convince the local prosecutor's office to pursue criminal charges agaisnt Gates. 0% more like. He could bring in a legal team that would tie up an underfunded overworked team of state lawyers for 1000 years and waste more tax money than the war on drugs and he himself would never see the inside of a courtroom.

          And if you went after him in civil court the interest he'd earn in the time it took to make the case would cover any monetary award that would be judged against him. He is well insulated against legal stupidities.

          Rich people could redeem themselves if they did cool stuff like this on a regular basis, but now all they do is devise ways to burn us all for fuel. Back in the day Howard Hughes would crash a rocket plane into your house, wash his hands in your sink without asking, and apologize for it to nobody.

    • I think he's safe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:59AM (#26736349)

      If you're a tech king or politician, would you want to be known as "the guy that sued the richest-man-turned-philantropist over a bug sting"?

      Nobody in that could would ever talk to you again. Let alone invite you to dinner, because they could just happen to offer you something you might be allergic to and sue again.

  • by eagl (86459) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:46AM (#26736149) Journal

    For his next trick, to highlight the need for stricter gun control laws, Bill Gates will fire a gun into a crowd while shouting "there is no reason why only poor people should suffer from gun crimes!"

    I think Al Gore plans on having a volcano erupt in downtown Manhattan to emphasize that ecological disasters are not just some fringe pacific "ring of fire" problem, but I hear he's having trouble getting a permit from the city.

    • by MiniMike (234881) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:09AM (#26736447)

      Bill Gates will fire a gun into a crowd while shouting "there is no reason why only poor people should suffer from gun crimes!"

      Cheney has him covered [wikipedia.org] on that. Beat him to it, actually.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ultranova (717540)

      I think Al Gore plans on having a volcano erupt in downtown Manhattan to emphasize that ecological disasters are not just some fringe pacific "ring of fire" problem, but I hear he's having trouble getting a permit from the city.

      A volcano isn't an ecological disaster, except in Soviet Russia [wikipedia.org]. It's a geological disaster.

  • by Cornwallis (1188489) * on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:49AM (#26736209)
    You should have been at the function where he released 100 screaming Rhesus monkeys into the audience to highlight the problems of Ebola virus. It was great fun watching the attendees trying to avoid being bitten.
  • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:50AM (#26736215)

    What has Gates done PERSONALLY to make slashdotters so hateful of him? Honestly, the real reason Microsoft is able to get away with what it does is that monopolies are an inherent flaw in our current economic system. Microsoft is no different, or annoying and heartless, than the cell phone companies or how AT&T was.

    Bill Gates smoothly made sure his company won the monopoly, but even without the man, a different software company would have won it.

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:03AM (#26736377)

      His intentions may be good. I think I remember his vision was to create the computer that everyone can use and everyone can understand, and make it the only OS you'll ever have, so nobody would have to worry about not knowing the UI should he ever face a different computer because every computer would use the same (i.e. his) OS.

      Unfortunately, the whole thing has become the poster child for the old saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

      • by Xest (935314) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:28AM (#26736707)

        I think that's the thing. Gates actually had a really good vision, he wants to see our lives go digital and all our digital devices interconnected and everything integrated to work as a single beautiful system.

        The problem is, his view of how this occurs is via Microsoft producing everything in that overall system, rather than use of open standards. This is not even necessarily because he thinks open standards are a bad thing, but simply because he was in charge of a company that has to answer to share holders who want nothing but profit and in that scenario, he perhaps had no choice but to go down the route of having Microsoft do it all.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:22AM (#26736623)

      What has Gates done PERSONALLY to make slashdotters so hateful of him?

      OK, True story: Back in the early 1980s I was working for a small startup company in eastern Idaho... we did lots of vertical market stuff for home construction companies and lumber mills. All written in C, with Assembly language libraries and a smattering (*gasp*) of BASIC. So one day, I was working on debugging our B-Tree retrieval libraries using the new state-of-the art 80386 machine (all the other machines in our shop were '286) when suddenly Bill Gates bursts into the office. He does a couple of flips over the office partition walls and killed two of my co-workers with a karate chop to the neck....one was the HR person who, of course, has all our home addresses, so Bill grabs the sheet of paper with all of them and yells "I'll be back". Well, after the police interviews and crisis counselling and cleanup... I go home only to find my wife and four triplets all stabbed to death and my dog pregnant. On the kitchen table was a note from Bill Gates saying "I did this"

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:25AM (#26737683) Homepage Journal

      What has Gates done PERSONALLY to make slashdotters so hateful of him?

      1. Clippy
      2. Bob
      3. Bought out FoxPro and ruined it
      4. Disappearing menu items
      5. Changing new versions of apps so much that you have to relearn them
      6. Releasing OSes that they know are full of bugs
      7. UAC
      8. Lack of following standards; the belief theyt THEY set the standards (backslash, IE, CSS, the list goes on
      9. making a virus-friendly OS
      10. silverlight
      11. jscript
      12. Active-X (truly evil IMO)
      13. Doing the equivalent of your throwing a five dollar bill in a Salvation Army bucket and expecting us to think he's a philanthropist
      14. product registration (pain in the ass)
      15. Windows registry

      What has Gates done PERSONALLY to make slashdotters like him?

  • by PrescriptionWarning (932687) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:53AM (#26736269)
    wear one of those head covering mosquito nets, or like what Beekeepers wear. that would be pretty funny :)
  • Only poor people? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:03AM (#26736389) Homepage

    There is no reason only poor people should be infected.

    Yes, there is — the richer people can afford both the knowledge of the danger, and the means of defense.

    Other things being equal, poor people will always have it worse, than the rich. Bill Gates' trick — and the accompanying rhetoric — certainly made news already and will continue to do so &mdash as he intended. But it is just a buzz-generating trick — not unlike the naked PETA protesters.

    His main message — that having vast numbers of people suffer and die from preventable and treatable diseases (like malaria) sucks — is quite correct and on-target. But if he wants my money (or other, non-monetary, assistance) to help with it, he better dispense with the near-Socialist proclamations...

    • Re:Only poor people? (Score:5, Informative)

      by feed_me_cereal (452042) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:17AM (#26736567)

      He said "there's no reason only poor people should be infected", not "there's no reason only poor people are elected". Poor people did nothing to deserve being infected.

      Secondly, Bill Gate's little show had a lot more of a point than PETA getting naked. Whereas the latter is merely a publicity stunt, Gate's maneuver also serves to make potentially rich donors uncomfortable with the idea of the suffering of others by experiencing a small part of it. Nothing about PETA getting naked serves this sort of purpose.

      Lastly, I also dearly hope that Bill Gate's political leanings aren't whats preventing you from otherwise helping to stop the spread of malaria...

  • astroturfing tag (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poity (465672) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:10AM (#26736459)

    Why is every MS story being tagged astroturfing? Do people even know what that word means, or are there really people who harbor such paranoia and belief in grand conspiracies (some kind of tech version of 9/11 Truthers)?

    I bet someone's going to accuse me of astroturfing with this post and being a shill for Gates..

  • by feed_me_cereal (452042) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:10AM (#26736465)

    What about this indicates a faux grassroots movement? Words like 'astroturfing' quickly lose their meaning when abused like this...

  • The new Gates (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xest (935314) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:13AM (#26736499)

    Gates has always been largely hated here and in the IT community because of course he's the one who lumped us all with the worst of Microsoft's products as well as the best ones. It was his company that was hit by the major anti-trust suit and so on. Whilst the company he was responsible for is indeed guilty of being not particularly nice and whilst it's a fair comment to make that if he was in charge, then he is responsible too I think it's a little more complex than that.

    Microsoft as a company aside, I'm not convinced Bill Gates is actually that bad a person.

    I think maybe he got blinded sometimes by the position he was in and made bad decisions, other times there's been videos of him snapping at staff and so on but these strike me as particularly human traits, in the case of geeks who aren't the greatest at dealing with people, the latter doesn't strike me as being particularly unusual. After all, even Steve Jobs who is much more of a people person that Gates has ever been is equally guilty of such treatment of his staff. What's more, Jobs has also never been one for philanthropy either- in fact, on the contrary, he actually cut Apple's philanthropy programs when he returned to the company and never brought them back.

    Some may argue the only reason he gives to charity is as a tax dodge, but if that's really true why does he do things like this? If it were a mere tax dodge, then there's no reason he'd need to waste his time.

    This view I have of him nowadays was somewhat reinforced in a recent documentary on him that I watched the other day - "Bill Gates - How a Geek Changed the World" which was certainly interesting. Of course, we never know whether documentaries like these are made with an air of bias to them or not, similarly we don't know if everything Bill does really is just a show. But honestly, now he's no longer at Microsoft and still is willing to do things like this I think I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now unless he does something to prove otherwise.

    I think it's true when some commentators suggest that a few decades down the line, when Gates is old and dying that he indeed wont be remembered as that guy that ran that evil company and is hence evil himself, but will be seen more as a pretty decent bloke. I think as a person, Microsoft as a company has actually done more harm to his image than he perhaps deserves. I'm just not convinced anymore that Gates is one of those people who does necessarily deserve to go down in history as a bad guy. I may be proven wrong as time goes on, but only time will tell I suppose.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617)

      A great many of us have a real sense of right and wrong. And even though we may not always do the right thing, we usually feel pretty bad when we do the wrong thing.

      This company led by Bill Gates has done so many intentionally wrong things without any sign or hint of conscience or apology, I cannot subscribe to your rather apologetic perspective. I have yet to see a company whose actions were not a reflection of its top leadership. With that, I would say it's a pretty safe bet that Bill Gates is not a ni

    • Re:The new Gates (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:03AM (#26737273) Homepage Journal

      Some may argue the only reason he gives to charity is as a tax dodge, but if that's really true why does he do things like this? If it were a mere tax dodge, then there's no reason he'd need to waste his time.

      It's the robber baron principle. As they get older, they need to assuage the guilt they feel for having skirted / broken the law in order to become one of the ultra-wealthy.

      See Rockefeller and Carnegie for context.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by replicant108 (690832)

      The Gates Foundation only gives away 5% of its value every year. The rest is re-invested to maximise profit.

      By transferring his wealth to a foundation, Gates has managed to:

      a) minimise his tax liabilities
      b) maintain control of his wealth (and use it in support of his fight against free software and generic drugs)
      c) invest in restoring his reputation (which, for those with short memories, was damaged by his involvement in criminal behaviour )

      Furthermore, investigations have found that the Foundation's attitu

      • Re:The new Gates (Score:4, Interesting)

        by herksc (1447137) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @01:08PM (#26739679)
        When you say "maximise profit", let's be clear that the "profit" is for the Foundation to then eventually give away later at 5% per year. Being a "non-profit" foundation, means that no-one can take that money (including Bill) and get personally rich from it. It's the job of the Bill Gates Investment division to make money that the Bill Gates Foundation eventually gives away. That's it. Sounds more useful than just giving away a finite sum to me.

        If you want to say that he "maintains control of his wealth", understand that means that he can control which cause gets the money, not go buy a Ferrari.

        Yes, the Foundation probably even gives money to lame causes, and has conflict of interest with the evil investments of the investment division. But ethically handling that amount of money is really difficult, even in philanthropy. Just look at the job elected governments are doing.

        And I seriously doubt Gates is worried about his tax liability. You only have to pay taxes on a single sum of earned money once.

        I'm not saying Bill is a good man, or that it's even excusable, just that I don't think his motivations were entirely selfish.

  • Well done Bill (Score:4, Informative)

    by MjDelves (811950) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @10:39AM (#26736879) Journal
    As someone who researches Malaria for a living I must wholeheartedly support the funding that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is bringing to the field of Malaria research. Malaria might only be a "poor" person disease but it affects tens of millions of people a year. Even on a selfish note, with global warming creeping up on us in the next few decades, perhaps this pre-emptive strike by the West will save us all getting sick in the long run.
  • by dannycim (442761) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:03AM (#26737271)

    Well, he freed us from spam three years ago, so he's probably our best hope against malaria.

  • by freefrag (728150) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:17AM (#26737565)

    The Gates Foundation is trying to distribute antimalarial drugs to all the poor people in Africa. Too bad there is already a cure for malaria orders of magnitude cheaper: DDT. In epidemiology, you eradicate a disease by preventing its spread, not treating every infected individual. Malaria was already eliminated in places like Sicily by using DDT.

    DDT does not thin eggshells of birds. It is not carcinogenic either. [unl.edu] I can't tell whether Bill Gates is trying to accomplish anything or just spend lots of money on others out of penance. If the Gates Foundation wants to improve the world, they would have more money for useful charity if they just applied DDT in Africa.

  • by proclivity76 (755220) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @12:14PM (#26738659)

    The posers out there that want tax payer money to go to their cause are the absolute stingiest when it comes to their own money. Their motto is "Someone should give money, but it's not going to be me." That's cowardice, phoniness, and should be shamed. The idea of the government giving out charity money is awful for the personal growth and personal connection that donors get when giving their own money, under their own will, not under the threat of government force.

    For Bill and Melinda to commit to giving all of their wealth away to charity before dying is beyond noble.

    Bill's mosquito release brings a very real situation to a mostly sheltered culture. Those I know that have gone on mission trips to poverty stricken countries all profess that the were forever changed by the experience. Gates unleashed a small jar of change on that crowd, and I do hope it takes root and holds.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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