A Gates-funded start-up company called EarthNow announced plans to surround the planet in 500 satellites capable of real-time video coverage of human activity and movement around the globe… Several mainstream news outlets reported about it in 2018… Now the company’s website has disappeared from the internet…
This article has been updated since we first published it in March of 2020.
Bill Gates helped bankroll a start-up company called EarthNow that announced its plan to launch a $1 billion network of 500 satellites to provide live-streaming video coverage of every “corner” of the Earth in 2018.
NBC, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Live Science, and even the concerned ACLU, all reported about it, but now the company’s website has disappeared from the internet. When you click the link to “EarthNow.com” in any of those articles, it’ll direct you to a spam phishing site.
So now the question is, what happened to it? Did EarthNow dissolve after bad publicity? Put its plans on hold? Carry on without alerting the media?
Before it disappeared, the company’s website boasted that all a customer of their surveillance network had to do was flip on their smart phone or tablet to get “near-instantaneous video feedback with only one second of delay” of what’s going on in any part of the world at any time of day.
Users of the futuristic “EarthNow” app would be able to watch the weather, detect forest fires the moment they start, watch volcanoes erupt, and track the migration of large whales.
While that all sounds benevolent enough, the app could also be used to “help ‘smart cities’ become more efficient, provide on-demand data about crop health, catch illegal fishing ships in the act, observe conflict zones and respond immediately when crises arise, and assist the media in telling stories from around the world,” EarthNow’s website used to say.
The big question is who are the “users” of this technology. According to Wikipedia, the company expected its initial customers to include “governments and large enterprises,” but that they hoped to eventually make an app that regular people could afford.
“We are excited by the prospect of giving everyone a stunningly-beautiful real-time window on your world from space. With EarthNow, we will all become virtual astronauts,” EarthNow founder Russel Hannigan said.
The satellites will also have “machine intelligence,” meaning they can “interpret” what they are seeing to aid in surveillance, according to NBC.
They are the first “low-cost, high-performance satellites created for mass-production,” according to Big Tech co-funder Greg Wyler, and will “help humanity understand and manage its impact on Earth.”
In addition to Gates and Wyler, EarthNow also received funding from tech giants Softbank and Airbus. The company expected to raise a billion dollars to fund the initial launch, but wouldn’t disclose how much each party contributed.
The satellites were supposed to be deployed in stages, with the goal being “100% pole-to-pole global coverage,” the website said. No time frame was provided.