Matt Ridley on the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative

Matt Ridley regarding Zuckerberg and Chan’s gift.

Yep, I agree. And it’s interesting to see more info about some of the ideas Zuckerberg/Chan have in Ridley’s post. Like:

Zuckerberg thinks that “the only way to achieve our full potential is to channel the talents, ideas and contributions of every person in the world”. To that end he wants to get the four billion people who do not have access to the internet online. Through “” he is trying to find ways to use solar-powered drones flying at 60,000 feet and equipped with infra-red lasers to bring the internet to remote parts of the developing world where they could give farmers weather forecasts and crucial market information, plus a chance to educate their children.


Ridley also makes an important point about charitable foundations:

Yet most foundations start out effective and gradually become captured by political correctness and vested interests. The Rockefeller Foundation did a truly brilliant thing in the mid-20th century when it supported Norman Borlaug’s tireless efforts to breed high-yielding varieties of wheat in Mexico and then to get them adopted in India and Pakistan, thus sparking the “green revolution” that has brought billions out of hunger. Later in the century, it succumbed to fashionable dictums and failed to back Borlaug’s attempt to do the same for Africa, arguing that high-yielding crops might be bad for the environment. (Recently it has reversed again and joined the Gates Foundation in supporting agriculture in Africa.)

With this sort of history, it is little wonder that the young Zuckerbergs want to retain flexibility in deciding how their Chan-Zuckerberg initiative does good work.

He made a similar point about companies and countries in his book, The Rational Optimist. I wrote about that here and here.

1 thought on “Matt Ridley on the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative

  1. It seems that the Zuckerberg’s concept involves teaching people how to fish (and he’s even willing to supply the poles). It should come as no surprise that many of the whiners simply want the fish (broiled and with a side of fries, please).


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