This is intended to be a different version of thisthread, for more constructive aims.
Imagine you’ve received up to $50 billion somehow and have gone through the usual hookers/vacations/luxury cars. Now you want to do something useful for society. Normally the world’s problems are complex, and restricted either by the need for projects to be profitable, or conversely, by a chronic lack of funding. We’re looking for simplistic solutions through the liberal application of money, though! Now, you can simply throw money at pet projects to make the world a (slightly) better place; much less than the GDP of industrialised countries, but still a hefty sum. Preferably you can have fun while doing it. What do you do?
Here’s my idea. First, I’d make myself king. For example, by buying a square kilometre of Kyrgyzstan or an uninhabited island belonging to a small Caribbean/Pacific island state. Make my new kingdom an autonomous region rather than independent state, so that I have de facto international recognition and a measure of protection against invasion. Make it so I can rule by decrees in my new territory, and have legal exceptions to all regulations of the internet and information flow – “normal” laws like the ones against murder and theft can stand. Then, I’d set up some serious infrastructure for connecting my kingdom to the internet.
So then things really get started. First, this will be a data haven in a bomb-proof bunker; no porn, but all information from all sources can be uploaded to the servers and freely accessed by anyone anywhere. This will be a free service, nobody will get paid for donations of information, and I will not be promoting the theft of documentation: but whenever someone feels that documentation (whether it’s a private company’s dirty accounting, or a CIA report on Pakistan) should be open to the world, this is where it’ll go.
Next, and more importantly, I’d set up a global micro-financing service, with two elements. First, I’d provide interest-free loans of up to $1 million to entrepreneurs, with preference given to everyone outside the “first world”. If the new enterprise fails, fine, I’ll suck up the loss. If a new business is successful, I’ll ask for a small sum, say maybe 0.5% of profits, for the first five years to help sustain the next part of the system even if my money for free loans should eventually run out. The second part is setting up a forum and match-making service for investors to meet entrepreneurs, worldwide. So, for example, if a Tajik wants to set up a carpet-exporting service, a retiree in Germany can send him a thousand bucks under whatever terms they can agree to. Again, I’ll be favouring the non-first world; perhaps by offering financing towards the creation of internet cafés and broadband infrastructure in the developing world. Banks who sit on their cash, instead of loaning it or investing it in job creation through small business, can suck it.
Finally, the Khan Academy need never look for, or pay for, internet hosting again; it’s on me. I’ll support a network of university professors – volunteers, or paid a very small contribution – worldwide to grade exams for a series of internet-based courses, for the purpose of providing opportunities for the underprivileged to get certifications or degrees – it’ll be something, even if it’ll have a lower standard than what they’d get at a “real” university or technical school.
That’s how I’d squander my fortune. What are your ideas?