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Controlling the data isn’t about solving poverty, rather it’s all about creating systems to make the problems associated with poverty attractive to investors.

Data is the key — from showing interventions/investments are working to controlling the poor with data informed nudges to their behavior.

Bill Gates has now decided to tackle poverty and once again the discussion around this move has devolved into a debate over intentions rather than outcomes.

Some people think Gates is a well meaning guy who just can’t get it quite right. The harsher critics of his education policies just wish he would learn from his mistakes and move on. Fat chance.

If you look at the outcomes of his education initiatives, they’ve been disastrous. I predict his foray into poverty will be much the same.

Why?

Because Gates isn’t interested in using his foundation’s vast wealthy to directly impact poverty through say, spending money on food security, shelter, or creating living wage jobs — with no strings attached. Oh no, his idea is to manage poverty by controlling the data.

From the Seattle Times:

Desmond-Hellmann said the foundation will focus on areas where its funding can be most effective, like collecting and sharing data on factors that contribute to poverty and upward mobility.

This is a crucial pivot that demands critical examination.

Controlling the data isn’t about solving poverty, rather it’s all about creating systems to make the problems associated with poverty attractive to investors.

Data is the key — from showing interventions/investments are working to controlling the poor with data informed nudges to their behavior.

Whoever controls the data, controls the next wave of surveillance capitalism. Gates just nominated himself to be that person. This is a monopolist rather than a philanthropic move.

All of which goes to show, even poverty can be profitable. All you need is the power and influence to build a system which encourages social impact investing and then position yourself as the one who controls all the data which runs the system.

Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google parent company Alphabet, proclaimed data to be the new oil. Gates is maneuvering himself to sit on top of the next gusher.

-Carolyn Leith