Magazine article Foreign Policy

Nathan Myhrvold

Magazine article Foreign Policy

Nathan Myhrvold

Article excerpt

A theoretical physicist who spent 14 years as Bill Gates's ideas guru at Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold might seem an odd candidate to take up the fight against malaria, long combated with technology no more advanced than bed nets and quinine. Here, he explains why geek power might be exactly what's needed to tackle the scourges of the developing world.

* Most of what technologists do is to push technology forward, which is a wonderful thing--I love it--but it's also about making toys for rich people. We wanted to do some stuff that would really have an impact in the developing world. The most dramatic intervention is we've built this machine that tracks mosquitoes in the sky and shoots them with lasers. Which sounds like a science-fiction fantasy. We thought it was, initially, but damn, we built the thing and it works.

* Part of being an inventor is that you have to have a thick skin. There were people who were skeptical a few years ago who argued, "You'll never build that laser thing," but now they're saying, "it won't work in Africa, and at best you'll put it around Disney World to kill the mosquitoes there. …

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