If You Had A Billion Dollars…

If you had a billion dollars to make the world a better place, how would you spend it?

  • kevindick

    Invest it in startups around the world :-)

    • danielhorowitz

      Haha. I was gonna write this. I think I still will. Invest in thousands of startups around the world. Rinse, Repeat.

  • Micro loans such as http://www.kiva.org/ so people can build an income for them selves and not live on hand outs. Second try to push for the rule of law in places where they disregard such, as the rule of law is, in my view, the foundation of a society.

    • Rafe Furst

      The rule of law thing is an interesting aspect of this. While it does seem to really help a lot, there are many examples of societies that do work where legality isn’t as important as other frameworks of power. China is one of them. Several experts and Chinese nationals have pointed out to me that the U.S. is particularly far on the spectrum of being rooted in a legal framework. China is rooted in a political framework, which is not quite the same thing and has more to do with social power relations.

      One could argue all day about whether the legalistic structure is the “best” one or whether it’s the natural endpoint of a “developed” society. Regardless, it’s clear that forcing a legal framework on a society that didn’t start with one is costly/untenable. I would argue that fixing other structural problems (like squalor, basic health/nutrition, basic human rights, etc) can lead a society towards a more legally based framework somewhat organically.

  • Marissa

    i’d probably do what warren buffet did – give it to the Gates Foundation

  • alexgolubev

    I’d use the blogosphere to generate ideas and award it to the top 3, 5, 10… and give prizes for the people who though of the winners. In order to decide the winners i would designate other notable bloggers whose opinion I value.

    Personally, i’d be prone to trying drastic changes and that cannot be good. Other than that, i’d invest in alternative education where kids are taught to think they way adults have to think instead of “bringing them up to speed” as if things are a matter of fact.

    • Rafe Furst

      As for an idea contest, Google did something very similar though using somewhat less than a billion dollars. I’d be curious if anyone knows what happened with that, and also how you think the game would change if it was billions instead of millions that got put to use.

  • Rafe Furst

    As for my own usage, it would probably be heavily weighted towards “hacking” education. That is, I do think that education is the highest leverage use of money in the long run, but I don’t think the current educational paradigm and practice is anywhere near good enough. Learning is culturally and situationally dependent as well as cognitively variable, so teaching needs to reflect that way more than it does.

    I would spend roughly 10% to figure out best practices, taking into account the variation issues. 20% towards catalyzing the new paradigms in the U.S. and other wealthy nations. The remaining 70% would go to new programs in the “developing world” (in inverse proportion to their existing levels of education).