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Gates Mocks MIT's $100 Laptop 816

Posted by Zonk
from the at-leat-they're-trying dept.
QuietLagoon writes 'Reuters is reporting that Bill Gates is making fun of the one laptop per child initiative to revolutionize how the world's children are educated. 'The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen,' Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in suburban Washington. 'Hardware is a small part of the cost' of providing computing capabilities, he said, adding that the big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support. 'If you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type,' Gates said.'
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Gates Mocks MIT's $100 Laptop

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:29AM (#14933226) Homepage Journal
    While I think Gates is right to mock these laptops, I don't think he understands the realities of the problems of helping others around the world. The only thing that helps others is letting them find or create their own opportunities to better their futures. Taking care of people today is counter-productive and can destroy opportunities in the future.

    Computers don't make opportunities. Teachers don't make opportunities. Public funding of projects, businesses and markets doesn't make opportunities. Opportunities come when a given community finds that is can accomplish something that others in a market want.

    The Internet won't help here -- it isn't here to educate, it is here to help people meet each other's needs. The people using the Internet to better themselves are already living in an economy that enables them to find opportunities to better themselves. That realization is enough to give the average person the desire to make their lives better.

    Gates is right -- the $100 laptop is useless. The people it is being built for do not understand opportunity because their community leaders have robbed them of any chance to better themselves. Many of the world's poor live under the thumb of a small group of elitists who think they can help the poor through force. They attempt to provide what their poor needs today, without realizing that just giving someone something doesn't offer any hope for the future. This is especially true if what you're giving them today doesn't really help them enough.

    The Bible offers the old fish cliche -- give a man a fish and he'll eat today, teach a man to fish and he'll eat forever. This is very important when making a consideration towards helping another person. I hate helping others through tax-and-spend wealth redistribution: there is no accountability in how the money is spent. I give all my charitable dollars (in the past few months, over 50% of my income) only to those I can hold accountable. This sounds like a "quid pro quo" situation, but it would be no different if it was my own brother or child or best friend. If the person I am helping is not making attempts to support themselves, then my help is wasted -- time, money, love or support. There are others who want to help themselves but are in a position (for whatever reason) that they just can't. These are the people I help.

    I would never fund anyone in another country, never again. When I was younger I funded some Ehtiopian charity group, and a few years later had the opportunity to visit Ethiopia. The charity group's office was luxurious and the people working for it lived a very nice life. They found an opportunity: take advantage of idiots in other countries who can't hold the charity accountable. The people the charity was meant to help received very little of the finance and support promised, and what little they did receive did not give them any hope for the future.

    It is this hope that creates opporunities. I've seen poor people climb out of poverty with no help from anyone, just because a simple opportunity opened up near them. I just visited Europe and Asia, and I saw thousands of very poor people taking advantage of opportunities that we in the U.S. would never consider doing. Many of these people realized their time investment could offer them the chance to save for the future, to give their children a better chance, to even save some money so they can better their own lives -- in the future. I would never give a homeless person a home, a car and a credit card. I would never give an uneducated person a computer or an education. I would never give a hungry person money to buy food. I would never fund health care of people who don't care about their lives or the lives of their children.

    But I would open my home to the homeless person, if they were willing to make steps to find how they can house themselves in the future. I would (and do) spend time with poor families to give their children a chance to learn in some way so that they could take on
    • by pizzaman100 (588500) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:33AM (#14933290) Journal
      The Bible offers the old fish cliche -- give a man a fish and he'll eat today, teach a man to fish and he'll eat forever

      Pretty sure that's not from the Bible.

    • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:35AM (#14933317) Journal
      Gates is right -- the $100 laptop is useless.

      Useless to him, certainly not useless to millions of poor people.

      -jcr

      • by YU Nicks NE Way (129084) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:47AM (#14933478)
        Gates is right -- the $100 laptop is useless.

        Useless to him, certainly not useless to millions of poor people.

        Actually, the $100 computer would be utterly useless to the millions of poor people -- if it every appeared, which I doubt.

        Gates is wrong, all the same. There's a much better reason to mock the $100 laptop: what the "$100 laptop" offers already available throughout the third world, and is, increasingly, being used by people in the third world for the same thing that we in the first world use our computers for: communication. Cheap cell phones are blooming throughout Africa and Asia.

        The average cell phone is a pretty powerful computer. With a display. And an always-on wireless link. And a storage system. And a data-entry pad. And, and, and.

        Gates' criticism is laughable -- there's a lot of use in a small screen, for instance -- but Negroponte's idea is stupid, too.
        • The average cell phone is a pretty powerful computer. With a display. And an always-on wireless link. And a storage system. And a data-entry pad. And, and, and.

          But it doesn't have a good, easy way to enter data. Full-size keyboards do matter. It's also hard to do self-hosted development on a cell phone, though that's less of a priority.

          Now, come up with an external, plugin keyboard for a cell phone, and you might have something...

          • But for many people, it's not about entering data - it's about *transimitting* data. Data about how they are, what they like, when they will come home, what the food is like here.

            I spent an hour the other day talking to a woman who had recently been in the back side of India, doing radio astronomy work. (yeah, she fucking rocked.) One of their problems was that even though the locals were still cooking on open campfires and drawing water from a comnunal well, they were doing this while chatting on cell phones, and that was causing a lot of interference on their dishes.

            These people weren't worried about storing data - they were interesting in transmitting it. How they were doing, what they were doing, and how their cousin in the big city was doing. All this was data transfer, but it was voice. Imagine, needing to stay in touch with your relatives in the big city being more important than clean drinking water and a stove and refrigeration.

            While the $100 laptop/tablet might be something, I'd put good money on it being an IM platform and an email client more than anything else. Because I think that we as a race, we are hooked on communication, more than anything else in the world. If it can offer a better communication ability than a cell phone, it will take off like wildfire. If not, it is doomed to failure.
        • by utexaspunk (527541) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:31AM (#14934018)
          But a laptop connected to the internet provides an entirely different kind of communication than a cell phone which could be prove quite useful for these people- You can't hold a meeting and discuss something with hundreds or thousands of people on a cell phone. Even if you could do a massive conference call, there's little chance of having a productive conversation.

          If these people are poor and predominantly rural, they probably live far apart and don't have adequate transportation to congregate in a central location and hold a community discussion on how they can work together to improve their situation whether it's starting a business, drilling a well, or overthrowing their government. In the case of overthrowing their government, congregating in one location just to discuss the possibility may also be extremely risky. Having access to the internet means they can create forums where problems and solutions can be discussed from home and with a some degree of anonymity, if necessary. Once people have access to the internet, anyone can say something where everyone else can hear it- nobody has a monopoly on mass-communication, and in a well-structured forum the good ideas can float to the top.

          It would also give them the ability to broadcast the reality of their daily lives to the outside world and increase our awareness of their situation. As it is, we may know the situation is bad over there, but we know so little that we can ignore it pretty easily.
        • by tezbobobo (879983) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:39AM (#14934109) Homepage Journal
          What the hell, I'm already on negative karma. I am a politics honours student currently doing my thesis on the educational value of IT in education in Western Australia. My research is not limited to that scope.

          Most studies into this sort of feild indicate the educational value of IT in schools is minilmal and may actually negatively impact on students. The only app which is generally real world related is the word processor and those who get to the end of an education which leads into an occupation which requires those skills generally requires it at the tertiary level. That mean's they are going to learn it, whether they are taught it or not. Most it related tasks bear no resemblance to those taought in the education system and only the most basic of skills are required.

          Secondly, the students in, for example, grade ten wont be moving into an office job for at least three years, if not six. For promary school users it is even further. That means the technology they are currently learning will be SIX YEARS OR MORE OUT OF DATE. In the meantime they are experiencing the degradation caused by spelling and grammar checks.

          Thirdly, the students with access to computers at home will succeed in the classroom where they are graded on those skills and those without access will fall further behind. This has the effect of widening the socio-economic gap. This means the laptops for everone (or whatever) will need to be implemented in a way which increases equity. I'd imagine selling your free$100 laptop would be quite profitable.

          I think that serious thought needs to go into the education value and expected outcomes of implementing this program. While Bill is right to mock these people, it is for the wrong reason.
        • by Dare nMc (468959) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:07PM (#14934427)
          > what the "$100 laptop" offers already available throughout the third world,

          With that logic, if the $500 MSN/AOL rebates returned to best buy/circuit city, then the $100 laptop goal would be accomplished. those phones aren't $100, their $20-50 per month.

          What the $100 laptop would accomplish is 2 fold.
          a $100 laptop, with a sip phone/messanger speaker/mike, and wireless is a mobile call center for one, etc. In places without cheap cell phone, setup a wireless network for a lower setup cost, and lower monthly charge, with greater flexibilty, to enter data, answer questions, steal identity, mass produce atm cards,etc... worldwide.

              second you don't have to protect those computers as diligently from theft, they got no re-sale value, they would all got a ban-able macaddress to kill the usefullness if lost...
      • Useless for Vista (Score:5, Insightful)

        by babbling (952366) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:56AM (#14933608)
        Well, yeah, it's useless for Vista. It turns out that poor people don't need eye-candy or bloat.

        Bill Gates is just annoyed that this laptop isn't running Windows. Microsoft was originally trying to get involved in this project, but they were not accepted, so now they're FUDing it.
    • by jdavidb (449077) * on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:46AM (#14933462) Homepage Journal

      The Bible offers the old fish cliche -- give a man a fish and he'll eat today, teach a man to fish and he'll eat forever.

      Did you mean that cliche literally came from the Bible? I don't think so, but if you want to offer a reference, I'll check.

      It does teach that charity from the church should proceed by the rule that "For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat." (II Thessalonians 3:10) I'd say that allows us to infer the same concept. But the saying itself did not originate there, to my knowledge.

      • His quote is actually a Chinese Proverb. (Reference Link [worldofquotes.com]) The Bible talks heavily [twopaths.com] about giving to the poor. In my interpretation, this is because the poor are not always a result of their own doing, but may be born into a situation that takes a lot of time and effort to get out of. The poorer parts of Africa are a fairly good example of this. None of those children asked to be born into their situation. But given the chance for an education (which requires food and medicine so that they may stay alive) they
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I couldn't agree with you more.

      That's why I think all of the vaccination efforts around the world as such BS: people need to help themselves not wait for some handout from the rich, and if some of them die in the meantime, well, that makes it easier of the rest of the people around them. A multi-disease vaccination shot for under $5? Why? It will just teach people not to help themselves.

      Ditto for clean water efforts, and, really, all public infrastructure projects. Infrastructure and the good health to use
    • by jdavidb (449077) * on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:49AM (#14933510) Homepage Journal

      I would never fund anyone in another country, never again. When I was younger I funded some Ehtiopian charity group, and a few years later had the opportunity to visit Ethiopia. The charity group's office was luxurious and the people working for it lived a very nice life. They found an opportunity: take advantage of idiots in other countries who can't hold the charity accountable. The people the charity was meant to help received very little of the finance and support promised, and what little they did receive did not give them any hope for the future.

      Again, the Bible offers a model here. In the Bible, a church would send support to another church in a foreign land during times of trouble (such as famine), through a trusted person (such as the apostle Paul). The book of Acts relates at least one such church to church contribution, and I'm pretty sure First or Second Corinthians (maybe both) has Paul speaking about how he made sure to take witnesses along with him on such endeavors so everyone could know for sure the money got to the poor people who needed it. Starting point for reading would be Acts 11:27-30.

    • by mcvos (645701) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:53AM (#14933555)

      Many of the world's poor live under the thumb of a small group of elitists who think they can help the poor through force. They attempt to provide what their poor needs today, without realizing that just giving someone something doesn't offer any hope for the future.

      "Africa's problem is that its leaders take care of their people"? If only that were true. The problem is that they don't. Instead of investing in education, infrastructure, and economy, many African leaders invest mostly in a comfy life for themselves. If your line of reasoning were correct, Africa would have been a reasonably wealthy continent by now.

      Well, you're partially right. One of the biggest reasons the African economy is struggling, is because Europe and the US are subsidising farmers to produce more food that we'll ever eat, and dumping the surplus below cost on the African market. And free or cheap food from abroad means that the local farmers can't sell their products and go bankrupt. So in this case, we're paying money to keep them poor. (And before you ask why African countries don't raise tariffs on imported food: they'd get in trouble with IMF, WTO or similar institutions if they did.)

      As for the cheap laptops for developing countries, I support it exactly because it does provide opportunities and helps education.

    • Your comparison of this laptop initiative to giving a man a fish is very poor.

      Giving people laptops, without getting into too much detail, is essentially giving people in developing nations access to information that they have no other way of obtaining. It has the potential to have a somewhat analogous effect to the introduction of the printing press in Europe in the middle ages: the common uneducated person suddenly has access to something that traditionally has been controlled by a few elite.

      Education is not something you can squander, like a fish or money or even a temporary home. Information doesn't cost anything to give, and ideally lasts forever. The only thing that has an expense attached to it is the means of distributing the information - in this case, $100 per laptop, plus some distribution and infrastructure costs.

      Further, playing down the merits of this project simply because there exist better solutions is irresponsible. You are essentially claiming that we should do nothing if we aren't going to completely rework the foreign policies and internal structures of virtually every government on earth. Nothing about this project is stopping you and I from trying to make bigger and better changes (aside from the expended focus, energy, time and money on the part of those who participate in the project - all those things are renewable resources). Mother Teresa is a good parallel to consider.

      You are correct, a lack of opportunity is what is holding the 'less fortunate' people down. However, education is opportunity. It is precisely what the common population in underdeveloped nations needs to escape the shadow of their oppressors at home and abroad. Giving them laptops is not like giving them a fish. Giving them laptops is like giving them a library card and a ride to the library; all that's left is for some well-meaning librarian to point them to some books about fishing.

    • Many of the world's poor live under the thumb of a small group of elitists who think they can help the poor through force.

      You misunderstand capitalism. Most of the world's poor is now and has always been under the thumb of a small group of elitists who want to crush the poor and get richer by breaking their backs. Poverty to them isn't something that they want to rid the world of, it's something they want to exploit and exacerbate, if anything.

      See also: Coal mines America in 1900, gold and diamond mines in
  • Throwing Stones (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:29AM (#14933231) Homepage Journal

    'The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen,' Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in suburban Washington. 'Hardware is a small part of the cost' of providing computing capabilities, he said, adding that the big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support. 'If you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type,' Gates said.'

    Fscking rich snob. You know, this git travelled around the world, donates money to fight diseases in 3rd world countries, but seems to have this wild belief that these backwaters are going to have telecommunications to each school and house, let alone broadband.

    He SAW the crank handle, what part of "they use this because they don't even have electric" doesn't he understand? It's crap like this that gives the west a worse reputation, never mind invading oil countries, but doing bugger all for poor african nations. Geez, Bill, go back to feeling all warm and fuzzy inside about your Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, or maybe you could free up $100B and give people in these developing backwaters with shite infrastructure some electricity, running water and telecommunications. Then maybe the destabilizing wars will settle down, which actually go a long way towards contributing to the diseases you like to fund the fight against, and the people won't be on the move so much and they can all get down to the business of e-commerce.

    Cripes... I can just see some kid sitting in an adobe house in a rural village looking at his bright shiny Dell laptop with Windows Vista installed, 2 GB memory, 200G HD, whizzy graphics, and wondering if he could use it as a hard surface to practice his writing on.,

    Bill's probably really spiteful because it doesn't spread the market penetration of Microsoft. So where's his effort? If he hasn't got one, he shouldn't be spitting on others.

    we give money to underprivileged congressmen to help develping strategies for them to look the other way.

    • 'Hardware is a small part of the cost' of providing computing capabilities, he said

      ... a very small part, where Windows is concerned.

    • Re:Throwing Stones (Score:5, Interesting)

      by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:39AM (#14933368) Homepage
      Fscking rich snob. You know, this git travelled around the world, donates money to fight diseases in 3rd world countries, but seems to have this wild belief that these backwaters are going to have telecommunications to each school and house, let alone broadband

      Actually, in earlier stories on Gates' view of the $100 laptop, he is clearly aware that they don't have adequate telecommunications, and said that what they need is not laptops, but cell phones and the associated infrastructure. He said what we should be making and giving them cheaply are basically cell phones that you can hook up to a TV and keyboard and use as a computer.

      • Re:Throwing Stones (Score:5, Insightful)

        by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:55AM (#14933590)
        "that you can hook up to a TV and keyboard and use as a computer."

        Yeah, I see now. That would work perfectly well at places without electricity.
      • Re:Throwing Stones (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dc29A (636871) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:01AM (#14933653)
        He said what we should be making and giving them cheaply are basically cell phones that you can hook up to a TV and keyboard and use as a computer.

        How are these cell phones getting recharged?
        What about people who don't have a TV and/or Keyboard?

        Both TV and Keyboard cost extra. Plus the cell phone won't be free either. And Telcos need to be paid for someone to use their cellphone network too. Many things Mr. Gates does not mention.

        IMO, the only reason Bill came up with this ridiculous idea is because he was felt left out by MIT. There is this reputable university that thinks no MS technology is good enough to help the 3d world. Must have hurt Bill's ego quite a bit.
  • by Mattygfunk1 (596840) * on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:29AM (#14933232)
    It's fascinating where the generous and charitable Bill Gates ends, and the ruthless businessman Bill Gates begins.

    You would hope with his experience in the public eye, that he would have learnt that nobel efforts to help the less fortunate should be encouraged. Good luck to MIT and anyone associated with the project.

    __
    Funny Porn @ Laugh DAILY [laughdaily.com]

    • by RenHoek (101570) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:35AM (#14933308) Homepage
      Well, it goes without saying that they won't ship with Vista. This will add to the Linux market share significantly, even though there are no profits generated by putting linux on those laptops. But it will hurt the graphs though. The PR department will hate it.

      And if Billy Boy is one thing, he's a PR man.
      • I don't think he cares about the PR. He's right, these $100 computers are not going to do anything to feed these people. Without food, how are they going to find the energy to turn the crank on that thing? Hell, many of these places are so poor that $100 may as well be $100,000 - for some of these people, $100 is two months of wages. For others, it's simply unattainable.

        I think considering what Gates has contributed to these places that perhaps, just perhaps, we should save the foaming at the mouth comm
        • by G00F (241765) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:58PM (#14934971) Homepage
          Gates would not be speaking out on this, and so harshly, if it doesn't compete with something he wants to do. And he was not talking about food when he was talking about the cost of software and support staff.

          These laptops can't run any version of windows let alone Vista.
          He has the xbox, what is to say he wont extend it's capabilities

          This is his PR to shoot something down that is competition for him somehow.
  • Hypocrites (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:30AM (#14933237)
    Slashdot made fun of this. Now Gates made fun of it. Now we will see Slashdot slam Gates for making fun of it.
    • Not really. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vo0k (760020) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:44AM (#14933442) Journal
      Slashdot didn't make fun of the computers, it was more of disbelief - the project is very ambitious and $100 price tag seems to be unreachable. Lots of us, /. nerds would love to get that thing, but we see it as vaporware, a dream that won't come true.

      On the other hand, Gates is mocking the strengths of the idea and shows real shortsightedness. He says the cost is network and software, which is bullshit. The software is to be Linux so no real cost here. The network doesn't need to be broadband, and likely won't be - and the bandwidth can be donated by country using existing data lines, HAM radio and different other really cheap options. A single broadband line for whole school, it's neither expensive nor impossible. The remaining BIG cost is the hardware and only a guy with several $bln on his account can consider it negligible. Gates imagines this: OS: $150. Broadband line: $300 installing, $30/month. Other software (MS Office, antivirus, anti-spyware etc) $200. So why not round it up to $1000 with the hardware. The guys at MIT think: OS: $0. Software: $0. Network: old HAM radio: $0 (donated), old 2nd hand modem $5, bandwidth govt-sponsored. Hardware: $100.

      $100 may be a year or two of hard saving for an average family in some countries. $1000 is for most of them completely out of reach.

      So either aim at this unrealistic $100 (and maybe laugh with us about how vaporware this is) or just give up.
  • by bwd (936324) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:31AM (#14933259) Homepage
    But he has put his money where his mouth is concerning helping needy children. He hasn't sold them $100 computers, but he has given away for free various medicines worth billions of dollars over many years. So I think his criticism should be seen in that context. I think he's expressing genuine concern.
    • by WolfWithoutAClause (162946) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:34AM (#14933307) Homepage
      Yes, the fact that he wouldn't make any money on this laptop, when he previously suggested that windows would be a good idea, has nothing to do with his comments. His comments shouldn't be seen in this context at all. That would be wrong.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:36AM (#14933332)
      And if the $100 computer people want to have the last laugh, they can stop issuing press releases and giving each other awards and start making the damn things.
    • by pubjames (468013) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:43AM (#14933415)
      I think he's expressing genuine concern.

      No, I think they are dumb comments that show Gates is completely out of touch with the realities of education in developing countries. So he gives money to charities? So what. Is that such a big deal for someone who has so much of it?

      A little personal story about MS. I used to work for an educational organisation in the UK. We were working with Microsoft on a project to demonstrate Microsoft software to schools, in return they were giving the org I was working for some free software. In discussion with their head of marketing to the education sector, I raised the point that the demonstrations weren't actually very good from a educational perspective. He said to me condescendingly - "Microsoft is not interested in education, we just want schools to buy our software". That kind of sums up MS for me.
    • by babbling (952366) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:46AM (#14933471)
      That's a load of crap. When Microsoft was trying to get involved in this project [silicon.com], he thought it was great.

      Now that the organisation making this laptop has rejected Microsoft, it's crap? Forgive me for being paranoid, but I don't think that's genuine concern...
    • Through his foundation he's been extremely generous, but most efforts up to now have been directed at diseases, which I would call a symptom of societal ill-health. In other words, diseases like malaria and typhoid and polio are consequences of other underlying problems: lack of utility infrastructure (water, power, telecom) and social development infrastructure (education, health care facilities).

      It may be tha Bill Gates regards infrastructure problems as the jurisdiction of governments, but if I had $50

    • by Vo0k (760020) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @12:14PM (#14934510) Journal
      Routes the money travel:

      x  3rd world country Government
      x |||software               |
      x |||maintenance           XXX not enough money for hospitals
      x |||contracts              v
      x  V
      x Microsoft --charity---- > Poor kids
      x  || marketing              |
      x  || investments            | food
      x  || taxes                  | medicines
      x   V                        |
      x U S A <--------------------+

      Of course charity gives good publicity.
  • by ExE122 (954104) * on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:31AM (#14933260) Homepage Journal
    Well of course, its only a couple hundred dollars more... I could've easily afforded that when I was a kid and spent three years saving up for an $80 used nintendo console.

    And in other news, victims of Hurricane Katrina have finally returned to New Orleans to find that places of business have shut down and their homes have been destroyed.

    When asked how he felt about people that are homeless, Bill Gates commented, "Their house got destroyed? So why don't they just buy another one? Boy, some people are just stupid!"

    Gates then proceded to laugh at a little boy who's family was on welfare. "He was so skinny! Why didn't he just eat something? Boy, some people are just stupid".

    He then wiped his ass with a 100 dollar bill and lit it on fire in front of a blue-collar laborer.
  • Urge to Kill .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:32AM (#14933267) Journal
    ... rising ... RISING ....

    This article is clearly flamebait. So allow me to participate in the opening salvo.

    I think it's interesting how Gates proposes a solution where we need to put people to support the product, thereby charging money indefinitely. Keep your customers dependant, it's his tried and true component to his business model.

    Perhaps Gates (and his wife Malinda) are satisfied with vaccinations and hand outs. Things like food, clothing, water, etc. While these things are very helpful in the short run, they unfortunately result in the poor remaining dependant on you for more hand outs. This is convenient if you wish yourself to be seen as a provider.

    What's more valuable to you, food or a tool that could possibly help you learn how to procure food indefinitely. These laptops could be very valuable communication devices. Sometimes, it's just an open dialogue with someone intelligent that sparks the learning process.

    It seems like Gates is walking up to someone who desperately needs just basic transportation and telling them that a $1,000 junker isn't what they need. They need a high performance Dodge Viper with a personal mechanic to maintain it. Broadband connection? Why? I thought I read that these $100 laptops were going to have radio frequency repeaters so that information could be sent from laptop to laptop and act as routers for each other.

    You know, even if these laptops are mediocre or even a complete failure, at least someone tried to provide the tools to escape poverty permanently.

    Either Gates thinks that poor equals stupid or he's got something against MIT. These must have been some very hastily made remarks--think before you speak no matter how rich you are. It also doesn't help that the article implied he recommends a Microsoft "Ultra-Mobile" laptop instead (costing 6 to 10 times more).
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:42AM (#14933409) Homepage Journal
      It seems like Gates is walking up to someone who desperately needs just basic transportation and telling them that a $1,000 junker isn't what they need. They need a high performance Dodge Viper with a personal mechanic to maintain it. Broadband connection? Why? I thought I read that these $100 laptops were going to have radio frequency repeaters so that information could be sent from laptop to laptop and act as routers for each other.

      The key thing to understand about Bill Gates is that he isn't a technologist. Sure, the general populace believes that he's the smartest man in the world, but the truth is that he has absolutely no vision what-so-ever. If you read his books (e.g. The Road Ahead), he proposes mostly fanciful ideas that might have come out of a SciFi article from 30 years ago. Actual concepts about why his ideas are useful, the reasons why the implementation will work, etc. are all missing from his books.

      What people need to realize is that Bill Gates is a ruthless business man who knows how to be in the right place at the right time. He made his entire fortune by embracing other people's ideas and extending them to be successful in the market. Everything from the Altair port of BASIC, to purchasing a CP/M ripoff to sell IBM as DOS, to announcing a non-existant "Windows" to compete with VisiOn, to cheating Spyglass out of a web browser to compete with Netscape. He doesn't know what will work until someone else shows him how. Then, and only then, does he make sure he nails the market before anyone else does.

      Don't listen to Bill Gates. He has nothing useful or insightful to say. And I sincerely doubt that most people here really want to follow in his footsteps, even if it does mean becoming one of the richest men in the world.
    • by serginho (909707) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:55AM (#14933588)
      Perhaps Gates (and his wife Malinda) are satisfied with vaccinations and hand outs. Things like food, clothing, water, etc. While these things are very helpful in the short run, they unfortunately result in the poor remaining dependant on you for more hand outs. This is convenient if you wish yourself to be seen as a provider.

      Well, I don't know where you live, and I really don't care, but let me guess: you have never seen poor people with your own eyes, have you?

      These things like food, clothing, water and a *very long* etc. may well result in dependency. They are really useful in the "short run", and you know why? Life is very short indeed if you have no access to these "things". Without these "things", human beings die. And, as far as I know, people have no use for computers in the afterlife.

      So please, stop making everything about Evil Bill. It may get you quickly modded as "insightful" in Slashdot, but not much more than that.
      • by eldavojohn (898314) *

        Well, I don't know where you live, and I really don't care, but let me guess: you have never seen poor people with your own eyes, have you?

        I spent the first 20 years of my life below the poverty line on various forms of social programs. College was my escape route. While this was in the United States, I am aware of the severity in other countries. My friends regularly go to Tanzania to teach children and show me pictures. I do not have the luxury to spend that much money to help people.

        These thing

      • by lawpoop (604919) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:16PM (#14935205) Homepage Journal
        I spent ten weeks with a poor, indigenous family in Ecuador in a university field study program. They lived on the banks of a river in thatch-roof, plywood floor huts. They farmed food to eat and coffee and cocoa to sell. Some of the men had jobs in the city -- menial jobs. They had no education, and since they were "Indians", nobody is going to give them a decent job. (Because, you know, they are always late, they steal, etc.)

        However , if they get sick, they are screwed. They have no money for doctors. All you do is lie in a hut and have a shaman literally blow smoke over you, maybe wave some leaves. People frequently die from illness.

        What your talking about is emergency relief. Yes, without food, people die. That's what's needed in famine, earthquake, war, etc. However, poor != desperate. Poor people have some kind of hook-up for food, whether it be the garden, a job, or a relative. However, if you start giving them food, they re-adjust thier strategy -- they might quit the job to be with the children, they might stop working in the garden. Then, when the free-food dries up, they have to re-jigger their life again.

        If you give them food, they are dependent on you. They have no control over that part of their life. However, if you give them something like a cell-phone or a fishng pole, they can setup a new 'income' stream in thier life that they are in control of. That is empowerment and improvement.
  • We are at step 2 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dc29A (636871) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:33AM (#14933278)
    1 - They ignore you
    2 - They ridicule you
    3 - They fight you
    4 - You win
    • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:53AM (#14933569) Homepage
      Which is a great saying in hindsight. If you won, before you won they probably fought you, before that they ridiculed you and before that they ignored you. However, very few reach step 4 and many fall off at each step. So what does step 2 get you? A clown can get to step 2. That doesn't mean he's ever going to win, only that he's good entertainment. If I decided to throw a punch at a bodybuilder I'd be at step three. Wohoo so much closer to victory - not. I get really really tired of people that talk like there's some sort of automatic progression which will eventually end up at victory.
  • by Tweekster (949766) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:33AM (#14933292)
    Gates was never a real visionary. Excellent business man right from the very beginning but he never really had the visionary spirit. It brings up the debated comment about memory, it is dumb to most people, but really it isnt that dumb of a comment, just a lack of vision in what could come next. He knows business, not technology, he just happens to be in the tech business. He could have just as easily been in a different business and been very successful
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <.ten.enilnotpo. .ta. .rehtorgw.> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:34AM (#14933297) Journal

    They're running Linux on these things aren't they? No market share for Microsoft.

    Gates has valid points, but they're overshadowed by his oafishness. And it's really strange given the amount of money he pours into Africa every year. Bizarre.

  • For real (Score:5, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:34AM (#14933300)
    For real. I mean, why hand-crank those things? Why don't they just plug them into the power outlets in the wall? I see about 6 or 7 outlets from where I'm sitting. I would assume that everyone everywhere else in the world has the exact same resources available to them that I do...
    • No Kidding (Score:5, Funny)

      by KarateExplosions (959215) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:40AM (#14933378)
      If these people are so damned impoverished, why don't they get off their lazy asses and go to the ATM machine and withdraw $200 in twenty dollar bills? And these children are starving to death? Here's an idea for them: Go to McDonalds and order a Double Quarater Pounder Extra Value Meal. That's, like, a half pound of meat. And as for these kids needing computers, I think it's high time they pulled themselves up by the bootstraps, went to newegg, and built a decent computer for around $500. Jesus, how else are they going to manage their stock portfolios?
  • by bcarl314 (804900) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:35AM (#14933310)
    '...geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type,' Gates said.'

    You forgot to add "from his Windows CE powered PDA IM message"
  • by db32 (862117) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:36AM (#14933327) Journal
    It seems that almost all of the technology that Gates has mocked has come back and bit him on the ass. We all know that the Internet is just a fad, noone needs that much memory, and so on. While some of the claims to quotes are questionable, the pattern still exists. He mocks alot of things he didn't come up with first. I fail to understand the hero worship this asshat gets from the general populace. They assume he is some kind of computer genious. He really is little more than a very good business man/thief.
  • bill melinda called. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blackest_k (761565) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:49AM (#14933513) Homepage Journal
    seriously melinda isn't going to be happy with him
    she spends all that time trying to make him a decent human being and he throws it back.

    you know what would have had wow factor if instead of mocking this project he put some money into it.

    so what if it doesnt run windows surely there's no need to assimulate or destroy everything.

    now that would have been good publicity and maybe improve microsofts image.

    wonder what mr jobs take is on the 100 dollar laptop..

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:49AM (#14933520) Homepage
    Gates is just spreading the usual FUD. He seems to "misinterpret" the simple facts and spins till they're dizzy.

    Shared: It's "One Laptop per Child"; no sharing.

    Diskless: The machine has peer-to-peer networking built in; disks would be slower.

    Tiny screen: It's a bigger screen than my PocketPC. And I bet 6 of those screens are bigger than his 6x more expensive "alternative".

    Network cost: It's got builtin wireless networking; no network expenses needed.

    Application cost: That's why they didn't choose Windows.

    Support cost: It's a total package; if it's broken in either HW or SW, replace the entire machine and fix the broken one centralized.

    Broadband connection: Because these educational systems are meant to be used for downloading the latest movies? Besides, the wireless network will probably be a lot faster than the 56k6 modems a lot of people are still using.

    Reading what you type: That's where the dual-mode LCD screen comes in; something a "decent computer" hasn't got...

    Crank: ...and being able to actually power it without an outlet would help readability too. The crank is only one of several ways to provide power, it can also get powered just like a "decent computer".

    I think that debunks all of Gates' lies.
  • Are you kidding me? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcostantino (585892) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:58AM (#14933625) Homepage
    Seriously, are you fucking KIDDING me? Sure it's useless to families who can afford to buy $1000 computers and call tech support when their computer blows up from spyware and they can't connect to the internet because their DSL is down. Yeah, it's next to worthless to people who can afford better.

    This is for 3rd world and 2nd world countries where they can't afford "real" PCs with "real" OS's and most likely don't have a phone line to use dialup internet or even be able to call up Dell or HP or whoever. This needs to "just work" and by "just work" be able to relay to others who have net access, be able to work without batteries or mains power and be able to perform its tasks without spyware and viruses corrupting the OS.

    Obviously he wants to pitch a solution with XP or CE because that's where he makes his money... hell, even if hardware were a minor cost - which apparently it ISN'T since there is a huge difference between a standard laptop and this one - is he really going to give away XP/CE and Office? Hell no! He wants his piece of the pie and there's nothing wrong with that. The problem is that he doesn't understand that the target audience for this laptop are people who have probably never seen a laptop, much less used a computer.

    I'd hate to be there when the villagers are using their HP notebooks and the battery craps out. They would probably use it for kindling after that.

  • Shipping Cost (Score:4, Interesting)

    by good soldier svejk (571730) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:58AM (#14933627)
    I recently acquired a couple of older laptops to send to aquaintances in Zimbabwe. They both run pretty well, except for dead battaries of course. However, DHL wants $300 to send the heavier one to Victoria falls. I paid a total of $100 for the two computers. Parcel Post would only be $80 (for six week deilvery), but you can't send things through the Zimbabwean post office and expect them to reach their destination. Hopefully I can get the cost down by removing and mailing the batteries, paring down the pachaging and just shipping the valuable bits by reliable carrier. But for now, the barrier to me giving away laptops in south central Africa is shipping cost.
  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:01AM (#14933650)
    adding that the big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support

    Applications don't have to have big [koffice.org] costs [openoffice.org] associated with them.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:02AM (#14933671)
    If these handcranked machines were selling for $200 tomorrow in a consumer model, I'd buy one like a shot. Bill can scoff, but a rugged device with a keyboard that requires no power supply and can do wireless and simple productivity tasks is a KILLER DEVICE. I can well imagine these things becoming almost the iPods of the the computing world. The likes of Starbucks would be filled with people using these things, taking them out of their bags, cranking them up for instant browsing goodness with just enough juice for a coffee or two. The great part is they're so cheap and sturdy that you wouldn't need to carry them around like newborn children - just throw them into the bag with your other stuff and away you go.

    I reckon if anything that Bill is scared because if these things ever did become consumer devices that his shitty Origami project would go down the tubes just like all their predecessors. After all, how many would buy some lousy pen device costing thousands when something costing a tenth could do all they need.

    It's not just consumers either. I can well see these things being useful in warehouses and other places where you need computer access but not the bother of having devices on charge all the time.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:03AM (#14933682)
    what he means to says is profits. For a well designed computer the software and support is pretty cheap. Networking? Last I checked a chunch of removable media in the mail still had more bandwidth than any broadband you care to name, and that's dirt cheap. OTOH, providing software in need of constant upgrades and support and fun but uncecessary networking services is prtty damn profitable. I guess if gobs of money's my aim, I'd be selling cheap wintel boxen too.
  • by Craig Maloney (1104) * on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:12AM (#14933779) Homepage
    If Mr. Gates thinks kids won't sit typing into too small a screen, I'd suggest he take a look at the kids texting madly into their phones.

    It is we who are the dinosaurs, Mr. Gates.
  • Valid Point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XMilkProject (935232) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:20AM (#14933894) Homepage
    The man makes a very valid point.

    Hardware is an insignificant part of the problem. The infrastructure should be where the focus is.

    If we could get cheap electric generators, water purifies, and telecommunications (sat uplink?) then I'm pretty confident we could find them some hardware to take advantage of those things.

    There are millions, make that billions, of old computers laying around that can be donated or sold for far less than $100, and why do they need laptops anyway? So they can carry them to their big business meeting? A schoolhouse with some desktops and an electric generator is much more useful.

    I really can't see the purpose of getting people these $100 laptop when there is no communications infrastructure. What good is the computer if they can't get online. The huge benefit of getting them on the web is so that they can have access to piles of information that was otherwise completely inaccessible to them. Books, news, events, all uncensored and up to date.

    Without the communications infrastructure they can use the computer for what? Typing? Why would they need to make nice documents or excel files when they don't even have electricity? Couldn't they just use paper?
    • Re:Valid Point (Score:4, Informative)

      by utexaspunk (527541) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:48AM (#14934221)
      these devices have mesh networking. that means after all the kids go to bed, their parents can crank them up, get on their local AfricaDot or whatever, and discuss how they will go about building infrastructure, starting a business, overthrowing the government, etc. could be handy...
  • Umm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:28AM (#14933986) Homepage
    "The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen"

    lol. Did old billy gates just slander one of his own products unintentionally?

    They just announced something just like that last week... of course they don't want $100 for it.. more like $1000

  • by jacoplane (78110) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:53AM (#14934261) Homepage Journal
    From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: "Steve Jobs had offered Mac OS X free of charge for use in the laptop, but according to Seymour Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT who is one of the initiative's founders, the designers want an operating system that can be tinkered with: "We declined because it's not open source"[4]. Therefore Linux was chosen. Microsoft's Bill Gates has attempted to convince Negroponte to use a version of Microsoft Windows on the laptop, but Negroponte turned him down. Some of Negroponte's friends told him Microsoft might then attempt to craft its own version of the laptop, but he responded such a development would be "great", as it would speed up the process of delivering cheap laptops."

    Maybe Microsoft is ticked off with MIT because they were too insistent on OSS, and they view that as a threat.
  • Gates Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by john82 (68332) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:56AM (#14934297)
    Shocker! Bill thinks this is a bad idea. Raise your hand if you're surprised.

    What he's really saying is this:

    "Hey, this has the potential for bringing computer use to a large population that cannot afford the current solution model. Microsoft is not part of this answer! Worse, Linux IS part of it. I better crank out some FUD or this idea may catch on elsewhere.

    First off, 'poor people need broadband and a proper machine to run it on...' Yeah, that sounds good! Now, what else..."
  • by kindbud (90044) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @01:34PM (#14935431) Homepage
    Fat client:

    "The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen," Gates.


    Thin client:

    Earlier this year, Google founder Larry Page said his company is backing MIT's project. He showed a model of the machine that does use a crank as one source of power.

    "The laptops ... will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data," according to the project's Web site.


    Only this round, it's Larry Page instead of Larry Ellison. But the song and dance from both sides are the same. Microsoft wants to sell OS and software for Intel fat clients, and Oracle/Google want to sell hosted services for thin clients, so they can hold all the data. Fat vs Thin clients.
  • by KFury (19522) * on Thursday March 16, 2006 @02:02PM (#14935715) Homepage
    Gates sez: "The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk"

    Bill does know that OLPC stands for One Lapop Per Child right? Where's the shared use there?

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