Technology has the power to save millions, yet it also poses serious risks. In order to discuss and mitigate that risk, mobile tech giant Nokia and technology magazine WIRED have teamed up to launch the #MakeTechHuman campaign: a proposed debate on the future of technology and its potential for aiding the human race. “The #MakeTechHuman debate that Nokia has enabled is all about ensuring that technology serves humanity, in the right way,” says Nokia’s Chief Marketing Officer, Barry French. At the core of the debate is the issue of artificial intelligence (AI).

An open letter signed by innovators such as Bill Gates, Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking is part of the joint endeavor, and it lays out specific ways in which AI can be used in the fight against disease and global poverty. The letter states that AI “has the potential to bring unprecedented benefits to humanity.” Experts agree that AI can, quite possibly in the near future, do great things for society. One example that the letter cites is the eradication of global hunger through optimized farming practices. AI also has the potential to revolutionize the medical field by providing diagnoses and treatment far quicker than a human can.

It is ideal for technology to serve all, however, technology comes at a price. The purpose of #makeithuman is to ensure that the technology designed to save the suffering does not turn on them. To encourage a discussion on possible solutions and ways to mitigate risk, Stephen Hawking has joined #makeithuman with his first Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session. The renowned physicist is encouraging all to join the conversation about AI and the countless and revolutionary methods of aid it can provide.

Joe Kitaj

Sources: Nokia, Wired, Reddit, Future of Life, PR Newswire
Photo: Flickr

Many celebrities have participated in charities for all sorts of causes. Here are ten celebrity quotes that will inspire you to give back, too.

“The truth of the matter is: you can create a great legacy, and inspire others, by giving to philanthropic organizations.”
– Michael Bloomberg, entrepreneur, politician and philanthropist

“I choose to rise up out of that storm and see that in moments of desperation, fear and helplessness, each of us can be a rainbow of hope, doing what we can to extend ourselves in kindness and grace to one another. And I know for sure that there is no them – there’s only us.”
– Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, actress and founder of Oprah’s Angel Network

“If you think of life as like a big pie, you can try to hold the whole pie and kill yourself trying to keep it, or you can slice it up and give some to the people around you, and you still have plenty left for yourself.”
– Jay Leno, television host and humanitarian

“No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.”
– Taylor Swift, professional singer and the 2014 Most Charitable Celebrity

“With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts.”
– Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, investor and patron

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
– Malala Yousafzai, women’s rights activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

“Is the rich world aware of how four billion of the six billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out, we’d want to get involved.”
– Bill Gates, business magnate, computer programmer and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

“It’s about giving the gift of life to a stranger.”
– Leighton Meester, actress, professional singer and philanthropist

“If you’re in the luckiest one percent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 percent.”
– Warren Buffet, investor, businessman and member of The Giving Pledge

“We’re all in this together. Each and every one of us can make a difference by giving back.”
– Beyoncé, professional singer, musician and founder of BeyGood

Fallon Lineberger

Sources: Cause Cast, Daily Mail, Ecorazzi, Giving What We Can, Inspire More, Michael Bloomberg, National Philanthropic Trust,, The Giving Pledge, The Quotations Page, Twitter
Photo: Flickr

worlds_biggest_philanthropistsWe all know how great giving back feels. Donating, whether it’s time, money or other assets, puts a spring in our step and breeze through our hair. But who are the most philanthropic people in the world? Let’s take a look:

1. Warren Buffet: One of the world’s richest people says he views his money as “claim checks” on society that he can turn into consumption to improve the gross domestic product. In 2006, Buffet pledged stocks worth about $30 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest charitable contribution of all time. He often auctions himself off for dinner on eBay, raising close to $1 million dollars per meal. He plans to donate his fortune once he dies because he believes great wealth should not pass from one generation to the next but instead should move out into the world to make a more lasting, widespread impact.

2. Bill and Melinda Gates: The founder of Microsoft and grandfather of the tech start-up world, Bill Gates is the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the wealthiest charity in the world with assets estimated at $34.6 billion. Gates has cited David Rockefeller as a major influence on his philanthropic work and has extensively studied the Rockefeller Family’s charitable pursuits. Gates and his wife Melinda have donated over $28 billion to charity and plan on donating 95% of their fortune when they die.

3. Sir Ka-shing Li: Hong Kong business magnate Ka-Shing Li is the richest man in Asia, with his companies comprising 15% of the market cap on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. However, Li is best known for leading a no-frills lifestyle and donating about $1.3 billion of his wealth to charity. Most of his donations go to universities around the world, such as Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the University of California, Berkley, Stanford University and the University of Alberta. He also founded Shantou University near his hometown of Chaozhou. Li’s charitable work has earned him the Grand Bauhinia Medal, the highest honor in Hong Kong, the Order of the British Empire and the Legion of Honor.

4. Chuck Feeney: Baseball executive and businessman, Feeney founded The Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest foundations in the world. Atlantic has donated more than $6.2 billion since 1982 to social projects in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam. The foundation is the largest funder of aging and immigration reform in the United States and has given numerous gifts to Feeney’s alma mater, Cornell University. Feeney’s philosophy is “Giving While Living.”

5. George Soros: Hungarian-born business magnate and investor, Soros gave away $8 billion between 1979 and 2011, mainly to peaceful political movements and educational institutions. In the 1970s, Soros funded black students in South Africa to attend university under apartheid and worked to promote democracy in post-Soviet states. His foundation, Open Society Foundations, helped assist the transition to capitalism in his native Hungary and gave large funds to Central European University in Budapest. Soros also donated $100 million toward increased Internet access in rural Russian universities and $50 million toward the Millennium Promise. Soros’s political activism has long spurred his charitable work.

These philanthropists have dedicated their lives and fortunes to humanitarian causes throughout the world and can serve as an inspiration to all of us to give back and fuel the causes and institutions in which we most steadfastly believe.

– Jenny Wheeler

Sources:, Forbes
Photo: BBC News

Action Against Hunger Foundation
Go Green. Green is good. These are just a pair of expressions that represent society’s current attitude towards energy and environmental matters. In 2015, being environmentally conscience is progressive. People make more of an effort today than ever before to recycle and take care of resources. Another norm in our modern society is technology. Advances in technology occur more rapidly each year, constantly improving aspects of society. Pairing a positive environmental attitude with a rapid technological development gives us green energy, as a potential future power source.

The idea of green technology was born from Tokamak Energy, a start-up company that aims at pioneering fusion energy for the near future. An excerpt from Tokamak’s website explains the process by which this can be achieved. The website says, “Tokamak Energy aims to accelerate the development of fusion energy by combining two emerging technologies – spherical tokamaks and high-temperature superconductors. Tokamaks are the most advanced fusion concept in the world, but we take an innovative approach to develop fusion faster.” A tokamak is “a device using a magnetic field to confine a plasma in the shape of a torus.” By using advanced fusion technology, scientists are getting closer to creating a clean, renewable energy source for the future.

Fusion energy is gaining more and more momentum, garnering large investments for humanitarians and tech giants alike. No investment will likely be bigger than Bill Gates’ healthy contribution of two billion dollars. An article from Financial Times reported on the boom coming from green energy building around Tokamak Energy. Gates is the focal point of the piece as his commitment to green energy has started to garner public attention.

An excerpt from the article reads, “Gates is also calling for a tripling of public support for renewables research, to help fight climate change, from the present level of about $6 billion a year worldwide.” With Gates leading the charge, clean energy has a chance to become a reality in only a few years rather than in the previously anticipated decades.

Diego Alejandro Catala

Sources: FT, Tokamak Energy

Although the fight to end global poverty is still an uphill battle, there are a lot of people who are making a difference. From celebrities to CEOs, a variety of influential leaders have created organizations to bring more awareness to poverty around the globe. While some of these organizations work together to create a larger impact, it is the founders who have made it possible in coming closer to create better living conditions for people around the globe.

Bill and Melinda Gates are both influential leaders in the movement to end world poverty. The Gates Foundation tackles issues from global health to global development, focusing on creating the best living conditions in the most efficient ways possible. Bill Gates has recently partnered with engineer Peter Janicki, where they have developed a machine that turns human feces into clean water and electricity. “The machine’s purpose is to help the 783 million people living without clean water and the nearly 2.5 billion who don’t have adequate sanitation,” according to NPR’s Linda Poon. With Bill Gates’ technological knowledge, developments in better hygiene will further help people in poor countries.

Ten years ago, Bono’s organization ONE utilized the status of famous celebrities to raise awareness about the developing world. Its focus is in Africa, but the organization is passionate about ending poverty and preventable disease around the globe. The most popular accomplishment the organization has achieved is the (RED) campaign. By partnering with multibillion-dollar corporations they have “generated more than $300 million for The Global Fund to support HIV/AIDS grants.”

In May 2013, Mark Goldring was appointed chief executive of Oxfam International. The organization focuses on six key issues to help the developing world. Equality, sustainability and giving voices to the voiceless are some of the topics the organization has tackled. The organization works around the world with 17 congregations to maximize its progress. “Oxfam is determined to change [the] world by mobilizing the power of people against poverty,” according to the organization’s website.

These are only a few of the people taking a stand against world poverty. Organizations like The Hunger Project, UNICEF and Care are bringing the world closer to a poverty-free world. As more developments and strategies are created, these organizations will be able to generate awareness in ending global poverty.

Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: NPR, ONE, Oxfam
Photo: Flickr

Bill Gates Epidemics

Bill Gates believes that the Ebola epidemic—which has killed 10,000 people around the world—might be minuscule in comparison to the impact of a future disease. If the world does not put a focus on diseases and prevention, Gates argues, the next virus that breaks out could affect even more people. “Next time we might not be so lucky,” Gates said at TED on March 15, 2015.

Gates  supported his TED speech with an opinion piece written for The New York Times and a paper written for The New England Journal of Medicine. Also supporting his argument was an African hospital simulation set up at the venue of his TED talk. Those who participated in the recreated experiment had to experience the difficulties of being a healthcare worker treating Ebola patients, including distributing “medicine” to “patients” in protective suits that proved hard to move around in.

Gates thinks that the fight against viral diseases should be like fighting a war, citing a time as a child when he considered nuclear weapons to be the biggest threat to the earth.  Now, he says, we need to “fight not missiles but microbes.”

“This should absolutely be a priority,” Gates said. “We need to get going because time is not on our side.” Gates says that the world’s governments should consider spending more money on disease prevention as an epidemic is “by far the most likely” thing that could kill more than 10 million people. It has happened before, with the 1918 Spanish flu killing 33.3 million people in just the duration of one year.

Gates has some ideas on preventing this from happening again, including “strengthening poor countries’ health systems” and “investing in disease surveillance.”

“To begin with, most poor countries, where a natural epidemic is most likely to start, have no systematic disease surveillance in place,” Gates points out in his New York Times op-ed piece. With the Ebola epidemic, he argues, “trained personnel should have flooded the affected countries within days. Instead it took months.” If the world does not learn from mistakes of the past, we could be in for a dangerous future.

Melissa Binns

Sources: Fortune,  NYT,  Recode

Photo: Panteres

If there is any one charity organization most people have heard of, it might very well be the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Conceived in 2000, the B&MGF is widely considered one of the largest private foundations in the world. It is known for its robust endowment, its thorough transparency and its unwavering commitment to creating and sustaining a high quality of life in some of the world’s worst conditions, especially in Africa, the Middle East and India. Its celebrity-business-magnate-co-chair, Bill Gates, is pretty well known, too.

All of this makes for an attractive working environment; employees relentlessly fight against poverty and have the opportunity to work alongside driven and accomplished coworkers. These jobs, however, are difficult ones to land. Here is some advice geared toward the future Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation employee.

Know your potential position, inside and out

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the job’s perks – the designated quiet areas, the spacious atrium, the walls made of whiteboards and carefully crafted environment – but it is even more important to understand your place within the B&MGF process and why it is so critical. Whether you want a communications job advocating and publicizing policy or a vaccines job administering lifesaving shots in Africa, know why you would be integral to the larger picture. This deepened understanding will enable you to recognize the skills and passions you possess that are job-relevant. It will also test your commitment; are you really devoted to the B&MGF project, or do you just really like luxurious atriums? “Both” is an acceptable answer.

Don’t think of it as a nine to five gig

While there is a huge variety of workweek schedules among Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation jobs, it is best to partially ignore the logistics, placing extra emphasis on the organization’s humanitarian vision. There may be tasks to complete and mundane paperwork to file, but the fight against global inequality and extreme poverty is not something relegated to eight hours on weekdays. During “off-hours,” for example, problem solving, studying and teaching can be accomplished to fuel workday endeavors. Anyone dedicated enough to relieving global poverty to work tirelessly for the B&MGF might consider such activities perfectly typical anyway.

Know the issues

Working for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation requires that your passion for global poverty reduction has led you to a deep understanding of the issues. It takes accumulated knowledge and a commitment to continued learning.

“It is work that not only relies upon candidates with solid educations and related experience,” begins some advice found on the B&MGF website, “but also a rare dedication to the greater good that exceeds the importance of a specific title.” As is additionally noted on the site, one needs to demonstrate experience, discipline and humility before being seriously considered for the job. Fortunately for you, hanging around The Borgen Project, getting familiar with points of concern and topics of interest, is a great way to build the vocabulary and the mental framework necessary to talk fluently about global poverty and its eradication. You are already on your way.

— Adam Kaminski

Sources: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 1, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2, Seattlepi
Photo: NBBJ

gates foundation
Supporting work in more than 100 countries, run by 1,211 employees, and with grant payments totaling $30.1 billion, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has become a modern figurehead for advocacy. “Inside the Gates” is a podcast series that provides a glimpse into the grants facilitating the organization’s impactful work.

The grants given by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation range from assisting global development to keeping kids in school in the United States. GAVI Alliance was granted $1.5 billion for expanding childhood immunizations. Gateway to College received $7.28  billion to expand a program that enables colleges to serve students who need remedial academic help.

How does the Foundation decide to whom they want to give their grants? Insights from “Inside the Gates,” as well as a newly streamlined evaluation structure, reveal this process.

The Foundation develops all of their grants and contracts using a four-phase process: (1) concept development, (2) pre-proposal, (3) investment development, and (4) management & close.

Concept development happens within the organization, “in consultation with foundation colleagues, researchers, policymakers, and other partners in the field.” Strategies –such as financial services for the poor, tobacco control and emergency response –are developed. More than two-dozen strategies have emerged from the goal of having the greatest possible impact with the greatest number of people.

Once strategic goals are set, the Foundation approaches organizations that they feel are well suited to the work. Request for proposals are also available online if the Foundation wishes to broaden their network or fund multiple organizations for a project.

The third phase, investment development, involves the legal and financial analysis teams from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. After a proposal, a budget, results framework and tracker are approved, the funded organization can begin their aid activities.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation prides itself on “maintaining quality interactions and clear and consistent communication” between a program officer and the grantee. The final step in the grant process is a final report that serves as a summary of the results achieved and lessons learned.

Since the premiere episode in 2012, the monthly “Inside the Gates” podcasts have highlighted grantees and employees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Listening to these podcasts reveals the ins and outs of this organization and the projects it sponsors. People like Trevor Mundel, President of the Global Health Program, discuss the impact of effective grantee engagement on the foundation’s work. Others, such as Peter Kithene, an intern at the Gates Foundation, share their stories about working in third world countries and pursuing their dreams in the nonprofit community.

Overall, this podcast series, as well as the recently overhauled grant process give the public a better idea of what the Gates Foundation is doing to change the world. To listen to the podcasts and read in more detail about Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grants, visit Inside the Gates.

 – Grace Flaherty

Sources: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Photo: Gavi Alliance

Top Humanitarian Quotes
It’s important that we remember and memorialize the great humanitarians that have left their marks. Here are some great humanitarian quotes: 

  • “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity, it is an act of justice.” – Nelson Mandela
  • “Do your little bit of good where you are.  It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu
  • “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  • “I think we all want justice and equality, a chance for a life with meaning. All of us would like to believe that if we were in a bad situation, someone would help us.” – Angelina Jolie
  • “True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.  It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” – Arthur Ashe
  • “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” – Bill Gates
  • “Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back. – Princess Diana
  • Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love….The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.” – Mother Teresa
  • “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “Therefore I feel that the aforementioned guiding principle must be modified to read: If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace.” – Norman Borlaug

These humanitarian quotes will hopefully inspire you to become a more active member of society while always staying mindful of those less fortunate. If each of us plays our part, our journey toward harmonious peace will be accelerated.

– Sunny Bhatt

Sources: Brainy Quote, Brainy Quote The Givers
Photo: ZA News Network

Bill Gates, writing for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, recently released the Gates Annual Letter debunking three particular myths about foreign aid. Here, is a brief summary of the annual report.

Myth 1: Poor countries will forever stay poor.

The Gates Annual Letter states that income and human welfare have risen from previous notions of the “First World” and the rest of the world. Previous decades have considered the categories of “developed” and “developing” countries yet the two are far from relevant. One billion people have risen out of poverty and many others live in thriving economies. The myth of Africa forever plagued and poor does not hold true—Gates cites Nairobi as an urban center distinguished from a Kenyan village.

Myth 2: Foreign aid is ineffective.

Gates counters that nations such as the United States only spend 1 percent of their respective budgets for foreign aid—approximately $11 billion, far different from generalizations that donor countries often outspend and must therefore cut the foreign aid budget.

The Gates Annual Letter continues that foreign aid is an investment, not only for short-term solutions such as vaccines and bed nets, but also as an investment on the people themselves. The improvement and lifesaving consequences of foreign aid allow for the recipients to focus on education and development in their respective country.

Corruption and aid dependency are also treated in the essay. Though corruption is inevitable, the consequences are minimal to the benefits that are a result. Increasing transparency of the use of public funds also stymies corruption.

Lastly, countries that were once aid recipients are now themselves aid donors. The dependency myth is disproved by the amount of development that receiving countries have gone through and the change that ensued.

Myth 3: Foreign Aid leads to overpopulation

Melinda Gates takes over to write off the third myth: foreign aid leads to overpopulation. The idea being, saving lives leads to a higher density in a given population.

The truth is, as mortality rates decline, so do fertility rates. As women become more educated and as standards of living rise, family planning becomes a priority. The more confident a family is that their child will make it past infancy, that same family will have more children.

Foreign aid helps to create economic growth and education in recipient country, Gates argues. As the Co-chairs of their foundation, Bill and Melinda strive for bettering the lives of many by fighting extreme poverty.

With Bill Gates’ recently stepping down as chairman of the board for Microsoft, a company he helped found, more of his time will be geared towards his philanthropic work. Bill Gates is, however, to continue his role as an advisor for Microsoft, now under the leadership of newly-minted CEO Satya Nadella.

Miles Abadilla

Sources: Gates Foundation, Huffington Post, NPR
Photo: ISideWith