Textbooks are obsolete?

So Bill and Malinda Gates published their annual letter for 2019. I have been reading the letters for the last 3 years. It’s informative and dissects some of the most complicated problems that the world faces into interesting graphs, figures, and perspectives.

While I highly recommend everyone to go through it, here are my takeaways:

The world looking backward from today is very different from what we pictured a couple years ago looking forward.

The global median age is on the rise. In every part of the world, people are living longer. As more children survive to adulthood, women are having fewer kids than ever before. The result is a global population that’s creeping slowly toward middle age.

Better tools and more data sharing mean that we’re finally starting to understand what causes babies to be born early—and what we can do to keep them in the womb longer.

 Solar panels are great, but we should be hearing about trucks, cement, and cow farts too.

We like to think of data as being objective, but the answers we get are often shaped by the questions we ask. When those questions are biased, the data is too.

There is nothing about putting your country first that requires turning your back on the rest of the world. If anything, the opposite is true.

Alexander Cumming patented the modern flush toilet in 1775, although it wasn’t mass-produced until the mid-1800s


Exporting rich-world sanitation solutions isn’t an option, because they require sewer systems that are too expensive to build and need a lot of water.

The real magic happens out of sight. Unlike today’s commodes, the toilets of the future are self-contained. They’re essentially tiny treatment plants capable of killing pathogens and rendering waste safe on their own. Many of them even turn human feces and urine into useful byproducts, like fertilizer for crops and water for handwashing.

Textbooks are becoming obsolete.


Finally, I think this is a great interview and the points Malinda makes about the mobile phone’s importance for poor women is something that makes a lot of sense to me!

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