Witnessing arguably the worst public health crisis of the 21st century, the industry that claims to be changing the world is nowhere to be found. Where have all the tech titans gone?
The executives of Silicon Valley like to boast that they’re changing the world for the better. But faced with one of the most complex public health crises of the 21st century—the Ebola epidemic—the giants of Silicon Valley have been largely absent.
“We have not received any gifts from corporations in Silicon Valley for MSF’s response to the Ebola outbreak,” a spokesperson from Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) told The Daily Beast. “In general, the number of corporations supporting this response has been relatively low.”
Instead, it’s been left to the tech industry’s graybeards to step in and fight the epidemic, which has already resulted in more than 7,000 cases and 3,000 deaths. Two weeks ago, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation pledged $5 million for the cause. Last month, Microsoft co-founders Paul Allen and Bill Gates pledged $20 million and $50 million, respectively.
Google has chipped in a few hundred thousand. The other big tech firms, even less. As the epidemic rages and cases pop up in the United States and Europe, the industry that claims to be changing the world is nowhere to be found. Where have all the tech titans gone?
Anyone who doubts Silicon Valley’s world-changing ethos need look no further than the 10,000-word piece exploring it in The New Yorker or the comedy built around mocking it on HBO.
World changes, as evidenced by events like the Arab Spring, are increasingly driven by social action. So in some ways, Silicon Valley’s self-importance is justified. With bright minds and billions in cash, you can pledge to change the world and actually plan to do it. An unprecedented Ebola outbreak threatening both global health and world security seems like a good time to make good on that promise. But if Silicon Valley executives are planning to make a move, they’re waiting an incredibly long time to do so.
In the seven months since the epidemic began, Ebola has spread across borders, countries, and now continents. Once a distant nightmare in a foreign land, the deadly virus made its way to the United States via Dallas last week. But our struggle at home is multiplied a thousandfold in West Africa. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases and deaths—which now stand at 7,000 and 3,000—nearly doubles every few weeks. It’s an unprecedented global health disaster that will take billions of dollars, thousands of people, and an infinite number of supplies to contain.
The world has known this for quite some time.
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SOURCE: The Daily Beast