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Negroponte Responds to $100 Laptop Criticisms 586

Posted by samzenpus
from the cheap-machines dept.
teefaf writes "Wired News is running an article on the most recent developments surrounding Nicholas Negroponte's (of MIT) $100 laptop project. The project aims to make 'cheap' computers available to children in developing countries. In the article, Negroponte responds to the inevitable criticism from Intel and Microsoft, "When you have both Intel and Microsoft on your case, you know you're doing something right", and elaborates on his vision for the future of the project, "He also said the display and other specifications could change as enhancements are made. In other words, he seemed to be saying to his critics: Don't get too hung up on how this thing operates now, 'The hundred-dollar laptop is an education project,' he said. 'It's not a laptop project.'". The article also states that the initial production cost of the laptops is expected to be $135; the $100 price-point probably won't be hit until 2008. It's possible that the cost could drop as low as $50 by 2010."
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Negroponte Responds to $100 Laptop Criticisms

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:49PM (#15063009)

    Just wonderin'.
  • by mhollis (727905) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:50PM (#15063013) Journal

    Everyone is very quick to speak ill of Negroponte's efforts here which are all about building a project that works and places computers onto the desks (or laps) of the "have-nots." Based on what I have read of the man he's an original thinker and very creative.

    Usually, the entrenched tend to be very frightened of those types.

    • by ezavada (91752) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @10:01PM (#15063078)
      I find it particularly amusing that Bill Gates is one of Negroponte's critics. Of the two, Negroponte is much more of a visionary. This is really obvious if you compare Gates' book Road to the Future with Negroponte's Being Digital. Negroponte identifies things that make you smack your forehead and say "oh, wow! Of course!" (Not that I had a sore spot on my forehead after reading it or anything like that). Gates talks about minor evolutions of things that most people in the industry wouldn't find terribly surprising or imaginative.
      • by macshit (157376) <milesNO@SPAMgnu.org> on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @10:44PM (#15063300) Homepage
        Gates talks about minor evolutions of things that most people in the industry wouldn't find terribly surprising or imaginative.

        That's what I'm always hearing about Gates' books. I assume the reason B.G. "wrote" books (I don't know the degree to which he actually wrote them) was not because he really wanted to, but because people were always saying to him "Bill, you're the richest man in the world, why aren't you writing a book to share your secrets?!?!"; at some point if you become famous enough, people expect you write a book...

        B.G.'s response was probably "Er, ok, I guess (sigh)...." (starts looking up ghostwriters in his address list).
      • Of the two, Negroponte is much more of a visionary.

        Before making that judgment, take a look at the web site for the Bill Gates Foundation. It's impressive. Based on what I read, Bill was determined that his foundation was really going to make a difference, rather than just throwing money at problems so that everyone "feels good" (as so many foundations do, and never actually solve anything).

        Say what you want about Bill (and his book wasn't that great), but you can't accuse him of lacking vision to doing

    • by MarkChovain (952233) <mark.chovain@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @10:01PM (#15063079) Homepage Journal
      You should realize that this Nick Negroponte is the SAME GUY that whored himself to Swatch to promote their ridiculous "Internet Time" initiative.
  • by ezavada (91752) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:50PM (#15063016)
    I thought the most interesting thing about this was Negroponte saying "The hundred-dollar laptop is an educaton project. It's not a laptop project."

    Given that, it hardly matters what OS it runs, as long as school systems, educators, and students have the ability to write and run the educational software they need on it.

    IMHO, the real value of a machine like this in a students hands (especially if they are taught programming) is that they learn problem solving, not just information.
    • Negroponte had previously said the flexible devices will have a 7-inch screen that can be read in sunlight. It will save on costs by using the Linux operating system, peer-to-peer wireless connectivity and a 500-megahertz processor -- which was top of the line in the late 1990s.

      Would it be okay if MS stepped up and offered (for free) to bundle some super stripped down version of WinXP or Win2k/ME/98SE.

      Because if MS did that, it'd be a real coup to get Windows into all those developing countries. And as a bo

      • by znu (31198)
        It's doubtful Microsoft would have been taken up on the offer. Apple offered OS X [wsj.com], but the project organizers wanted something that was totally open source. I'm a big OS X fan, but I think that choice made sense, for this application.
  • by Baseball_Fan (959550) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:50PM (#15063017)
    The project aims to make 'cheap' computers available to children in developing countries. In the article, Negroponte responds to the inevitable criticism from Intel and Microsoft, "When you have both Intel and Microsoft on your case, you know you're doing something right",

    They are making a laptop that will cost $100, and perhaps $50 by 2010. Who cares about the specs, it will not be a buisness machine.

    Even if they stuffed a PII 400 mhz and had a 12" screen, it would be very usefull. People could write reports, surf the web, and compile programs. When I was in school, I compiled Java programs on a PII266 without any problems. Sure, I could not run a fancy IDE, but it was good enough to get the job done.

    I think a $100 laptop is important. The poor get screwed, and go without. Many poor families will be able to afford a $100 laptop. Also, if I was a charity with $5000 to give away, I would much rather give away 50 basic laptops than 5 thousand dollar laptops.

    • Even if they stuffed a PII 400 mhz and had a 12" screen, it would be very usefull.

      This is an excellent point.

      When I was doing undergrad in Moscow I had two friends whose specialization was hydrodynamics.

      Obviously they needed to write and run some code, but computer time was hard to come by. So they put their savings together and bought an IBM XT clone for $5. It was that cheap because at that time 386 were already low end. That XT machine was still very useful - and all theirs.

      In a similar fashion, wha

    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @11:47PM (#15063602)
      They are making a laptop that will cost $100, and perhaps $50 by 2010. Who cares about the specs, it will not be a buisness machine.

      No, it will be an excellent business machine. Writing documents, doing spreadsheets, inventory, email. We used to do that on 286s 10 years ago. That's 98% of what most small businesses use a PC for. And there are lots of more specialised apps on SourceForge, they can probably use DOS apps under emulation, and with millions of these machines around there will be a demand and market for more to be created. That's what Gates is afraid of, a whole world of non-MS software.

      • And you bring up a good opportunity for sales of the machine...business machines for companies in developing countries...and how much more likely would they be to buy one if they knew that for every laptop they bought, they would be helping to pay for the children down the road to get laptops for school??? It certainly looks good on a local level...not to mention the infrastructure that will probably shoot up overnight to support/upgrade these new laptops...

        Dell may not have a service center close by, but

    • In fact, I'm willing to agree with a post somewhere above you and say, if this laptop costs $100 to a developing country poor person, I'm willing to pay $200 for it here, to get myself a $100 laptop AND get someone else a $100 laptop. Absolutely. I mean, I'll get a cheap laptop, someone else will get a free one, and the world is a slightly better place.

      ~Will
  • Why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cubicledrone (681598) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:51PM (#15063020)
    skeptics have questioned whether the device can meet Negroponte's goal of inspiring huge educational gains

    Why do skeptics decide? Of what value is the opinion of a skeptic? Why do people listen to skeptics at all? Offer something constructive, or SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    "Geez, so why criticize me in public?" Negroponte said.

    Good question. Why everyone isn't on this guy's side is beyond me.

    Microsoft did not immediately return calls for comment.

    Wait, wait. Let me guess. A meeting! Right?!?!

    In time, Negroponte expects the $100 laptop to be a misnomer. For one thing, he believes the cost -- which is actually about $135 now and isn't expected to hit $100 until 2008 -- can drop to $50 by 2010 as more and more are produced.

    This man should be given a standing ovation everywhere he goes. Anyone who criticizes him should be ashamed of themselves and their companies. This is a worthwhile, workable project, and it should be supported.

    • Re:Why (Score:5, Funny)

      by hunterx11 (778171) <<hunterx11> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:55PM (#15063038) Homepage Journal
      Don't be so coy; tell us what you really think.
    • by c_forq (924234)
      Good question. Why everyone isn't on this guy's side is beyond me

      Because some people think there are more important things, like curing/controlling AIDS, building infrastructure, and enabling access to clean water.
      • Because some people think there are more important things, like curing/controlling AIDS, building infrastructure, and enabling access to clean water.

        All things that can be done by outsiders, yes, or by the people themselves, once they are properly educated.

        And once they are properly educated, they won't need outsiders anymore.

        Throughout the History of Humanity, social progress was always resisted by the few powerful that stood to lose their power to the masses, and a very potent mean to crush the masse

        • Re:Why (Score:3, Insightful)

          by c6gunner (950153)
          Throughout the History of Humanity, $100 laptops have not been neccesary for education. The best way to educate people who are utterly clueless is to provide competent teachers. Who the hell is going to teach these kids to use the laptop? Who's going to troubleshoot it? My kid sister lives in a first world country with full access to schooling, the internet, and books, and she STILL needs me to fix anything that goes wrong with the computer. I shudder to think what would happen if you gave her a hand-c
          • Throughout the History of Humanity, $100 laptops have not been neccesary for education.

            Throughout the History of Humanity, education started with litteracy. Learning how to read and write.

            What prevents a program running on a laptop from teaching children how to read and write without being constantly in the presence of a teacher?

            The best way to educate people who are utterly clueless is to provide competent teachers.

            How do you churn out lots of teachers when everyone can't be properly fed? At least

            • Re:Why (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:57AM (#15063886) Homepage Journal
              It won't need troubleshooting, it will run Linux.

              You had me, right up to there.

              The only computer I've ever been near that "didn't require troubleshooting" was an Apple IIc. And even there I'm not sure that it's a true statement -- it's just that the troubleshooting was so simple, the group of 1st graders that I saw using it could do it themselves.

              Put disk into drive. Turn on computer. Computer runs program. When done with program, turn computer off. Remove disk. Repeat.

              Now that's the kind of computer they should be laboring to build. Maybe make it run on little optical cartridges or something instead of 5-1/4" floppies, but the same idea. Put the disk in, turn it on, it runs. Anything else is needlessly complex and will require support infrastructure.

              Now maybe, like the old Apple II, you could have it do something special, an "advanced mode," if you will, when you turn it on without something in the drive. The old Apples booted to a text prompt where you could program in BASIC. Probably only 1 in 1,000 users will ever see it, and only 1 in 1,000 of them will ever bother to try to go further and figure out what it means and what they can do from there. But maybe you'll teach that 1 in 1,000,000 kid something, and he'll turn out to be the next Linux Torvalds. I can accept that.

              However, if the machine is anything approaching the complexity of today's PCs, which most literate, educated people can hardly understand, much less troubleshoot and support, I think you're setting the whole thing up for failure. IMO, any device you're tossing out there like this ought to be like a Gameboy: just enough onboard, hardcoded intelligence to make the thing turn on and load code from external modules. That way no matter how bad you hose the software, you can't "break it." Plus it makes them a lot easier to share: one person can pull out the cartridge/disk for whatever they've been working on, and another person can plug theirs in and it's like they're on a different system.
          • Re:Why (Score:3, Insightful)

            You can provide the teachers, but unless the taught have a reason to stay, they will just leave for where there is more opportunity. Then you have to provide teachers to the next generation.

            What you need to do is provide broad education, so that the local infrastructure can be built up. The $100 laptop project could do this, because it has a short range wireless connection. It would let children communicate with close neighbors. (would could communicate with neighbors not so close to the originator)
      • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tehdaemon (753808) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @11:55PM (#15063632)
        " Good question. Why everyone isn't on this guy's side is beyond me

        Because some people think there are more important things, like curing/controlling AIDS, building infrastructure, and enabling access to clean water. "

        That explains why they are not helping him, but it does not explain why they are opposing him. And they are opposing him.

    • Re:Why (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why do people listen to skeptics at all? Offer something constructive, or SHUT THE FUCK UP.

      Believe it or not, not everything is a good idea. Despite what you have been taught in school, trying hard isn't good enough. It has to actually accomplish something!

      As such, questioning whether this will further their stated aims is perfectly appropriate and useful. Negative feedback is not intrinsically bad unless you have a severe case of crybabyosity. It's not the world's job to pat you on the back for

    • Offer something constructive, or SHUT THE FUCK UP.

      Was there anything worthwhile in your post? You rail against "skeptics" (despite the fact that there is nothing wrong with being one or for them to speak out), make a silly and utterly useless comment about why Microsoft didn't return calls for comment, and say anybody who doesn't agree with him (and you by extension) should be ashamed of themselves.

      It seems to me that you did no better than those skeptics, only your post was a fanboy comment instead of

  • Linux (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MadUndergrad (950779)
    If this project really takes off, it would be interesting to see if it gives Linux a foothold (dominant market share?) in developing countries. Ten years down the road we might see people in these countries sticking with Linux over Windows when they get a decent computer because that's what they grew up on. Surely this is the main reason Gates is pissed, that it could lose Microsoft the foothold in these developing markets.
  • "Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has criticized the computers' design, including its lack of a hard disk drive -- though many people in the tech world believed he was more irked by the laptops' use of Linux, the free, open-source system that competes with Gates' proprietary Windows systems." I tend to agree that a really functional computer needs a hard disk. "Intel executives, meanwhile, have suggested that Negroponte's laptop is a mere gadget that will lack too many PC functions. Last week, Intel announce
    • My first laptop (not that long ago. This was early 2003) had a 700 meg hard drive. I think that's somewhere around the amount of flash they're putting on this thing (wiki article says between 512 megs and a gig). I had a very workable install of Debian in 300 megs (X, IM, web, programming, a few games), and had the other 400 megs to play around with. This was my main laptop and I pretty much used it for most things. Only things it couldn't do that my laptop could was speedy compilations and non-simple games
    • Well, it's not like it's running from straight ROM. It has a gig or two of flash space. A hard drive would be too fragile for the conditions this thing is built to endure.

      Sidenote: If they throw a single USB port on that thing, I'll buy one in the US for whatever they'll sell them to us at (probably roughly $250).
  • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:58PM (#15063053)
    What about shipping your old stuff overseas?

    http://www.worldcomputerexchange.org/offices/bosto n_contacts.htm [worldcompu...change.org]

    There are plenty of takers for your old equipment. Why fill up a dump?

    --
    BMO
  • The power could be supplied by ac adapter, solar panel, windmill, treadmill, or many other alternatives, since it doesn't need a whole lot of power.
    • by Arthur B. (806360) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @10:17PM (#15063151)
      Are you kidding me... I have an expensive high-end laptop, yet I would definitely buy a crank for it if it were available. Ok I am a nanoscopic niche market. But still... Other than the cool factor (I am a geek, yes I DO find it cool) there were so many times where I was left battery-less, I would really buy a crank. My only concern is the size of the thing. If they could make it light (carbon fiber) and foldable to the size of a laptop battery, I'd be the first customer.

  • MS and Intel can say what they want, I mean, didn't Jobs say once there was no market for portable computers or notebooks?

    The important thing to learn is not to be an ass just because you don't like an idea. Big companies can find themselves struggling to catch up to the "stupid ideas" that took off like a rocket because they thought they had everything figured out.

  • I want ONE! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tgraupmann (679996)
    Where can I get a crank for my laptop? I'd buy just the crank if it could recharge the battery.
  • "When you have both Intel and Microsoft on your case, you know you're doing something right," Negroponte

    That's his response to the critics? How about responding to some of the specific criticisms instead? Or maybe he did in his speech .. the article didnt really say. I wanna know some of his responses to the specific criticisms of the OLPC plan's effectiveness.
    • They critisize because the device competes and therefore devalues their own products.

      MS would rather have them buy their orgami devices or used pc's but pay MS for more software licensing fee's.

      They make portable equipment and basic economics101 teaches that it devalues teh price of yoru product. This is true even for people with money who live their and never intend to buy these devices.

  • Publicity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brandybuck (704397) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @10:14PM (#15063129) Homepage Journal
    It is just me, or does it seem that this project is much more interested in publicity than in actually producing cheap computers? If it were all about cheap computers for poor nations, just publish the specs and be done with it. Or just collect and ship used throwaway computers overseas. Instead I get the sense that more effort is being spent promoting Negroponte as a wonderful humanitarian than is being spent actually helping the poor.
    • Re:Publicity (Score:5, Interesting)

      by humphrm (18130) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @10:36PM (#15063269) Homepage
      Actually, it was Bill Gates who raised the publicity flag first, by mocking the project. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060316/tc_nm/microsof t_gates_dc [yahoo.com]. But if you're talking about MIT announcing the project, and daring to keep working on the project after Bill Gates mocked it, and responding to his criticism, I guess those soulless bastards are guilty. Frankly, I think Gates feels threatened in two ways: someone is out-tech'ing him, and someone is out-charitying him. Poor guy. He must feel like such an insensitive clod. Too bad he's clueless, this isn't about someone paying $100 bucks for a PC, a poor African child can no more afford that than a $3000 PC. It's about making a PC cheap enough that an NGO can afford to give them away. And that's a far cry from anything even the holy Bill and Melinda Foundation are trying to accomplish.
      • Re:Publicity (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dekortage (697532) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @07:51AM (#15065061) Homepage

        someone is out-charitying him

        You're kidding, right? You think a $100 laptop project -- working with $29 million dollars donated by some tech companies -- has surpassed the Gates Foundation's $10 billion in donations [gatesfoundation.org] to nonprofits (particularly to solve health issues in Third World countries)? Try working in the international nonprofit sector for awhile, you'll start getting ticked at Negroponte too. These kids needs nutrition, vaccines, and education. A laptop might help with the latter, but good teachers, clinics, and/or radio networks would solve this problem MUCH MORE CHEAPLY.

        Negroponte is a visionary, and I like him a lot, but in this case he is using a chainsaw to hammer a nail.

    • Re:Publicity (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Coryoth (254751)
      f it were all about cheap computers for poor nations, just publish the specs and be done with it. Or just collect and ship used throwaway computers overseas.

      The point, as Negorponte said, is that this is an educational project, not a project about cheap computers. If the aim was just to throw a random lump of computer hardware in front of a kid in the thrid world then indeed used computers would be fine. The project is trying to do more than that however, and that means more effort needs to be spent on the
  • The thing is that behemoth ineffecient corporations always claim that it is impossible to deliver goods and services for less than they are willing to charge. In a way they are right. For the corporation, with outrageous overhead, thousands of mid level managers, hundreds of accountants paid well to fabricate a loss while meetting wall street expectations, not to mention free trips for congressmen to French Polynesia, one has to charge a premium. It was this way with IBM, and now with MS and Intel. Even
  • While Microsoft and Intel are looking to the project as little more than a means to increase their bottom line, Mr. Negroponte is steadfast to his vision of the education and benefit of children.
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @10:26PM (#15063209) Homepage
    "First, they ignore you.

    Then they laugh at you.

    Then they fight you.

    Then you win."

    It appears that we are currently transitioning from 2 to 3.
  • While in theory, I wholeheartedly support this, in practice, this could have some unintended negative consequences. One aspect of this that is often overlooked, is whether or not these laptops will be used at all. Remember, $100 in the US (and many other countries) is very cheap. In the countries that this is intended for, it's a lot. Perhaps even several months wages. When you are looking at not being able to feed yourself or your family, that laptop will most likely become a bartering tool, or sold outri
    • by grcumb (781340)

      "Remember, $100 in the US (and many other countries) is very cheap. In the countries that this is intended for, it's a lot. Perhaps even several months wages. When you are looking at not being able to feed yourself or your family, that laptop will most likely become a bartering tool, or sold outright to get food on the table."

      As others have already pointed out (albeit somewhat misguidedly), when you're worrying about satisfying one of Maslov's basic needs, you're probably not in school anyway.

      But take a

  • Ego, Ego, Ego (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tinkertim (918832) *
    Gates doesn't have a problem with a sub $100 laptop. His problem is that someone other than Microsoft will receive the praise associated with it.

    As Microsoft continues to trip over their dicks geting VISTA out the door, I for one am glad these kids will get these laptops prior to becoming senior citizens.

    I'd like to take a minute to remind everyone that there are areas in the US that aren't much better off than the third world, and could benefit from devices similar to this. Here's a parts list if you'd lik
  • We have people here in our country that cant afford a computer. I guess they dont count?

    Not that i think everyone needs one to be 'human' like some people do, but i fail to understand the basic rational of helping others before you help those in your own back yard.
  • Or in other words (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aCapitalist (552761)
    Microsoft and/or Intel have no right to criticize because they are Microsoft and/or Intel and we are doing this for "poor children", and we're using open source and we know that open source is great and it doesn't matter what the outcome is because as long as it "feels good" to us MITers and as long as its open source and....
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @11:04PM (#15063404) Homepage
    The action in third world countries seems to be in adding features to cell phones, not trimming down PCs. A cell phone is inherently useful; you can make calls. Adding on extra features doesn't run the manufacturing cost up all that much. The niche Negroponte sees will probably be filled by some cell phone based product that looks like a Blackberry or a Game Boy or a Palm Pilot.
    • The action in third world countries seems to be in adding features to cell phones, not trimming down PCs. A cell phone is inherently useful; you can make calls. Adding on extra features doesn't run the manufacturing cost up all that much. The niche Negroponte sees will probably be filled by some cell phone based product that looks like a Blackberry or a Game Boy or a Palm Pilot.

      As someone who has owned a:
      • Palm Treo 650
      • Sharp Zaurus
      • Psion Revo
      • Apple Newton
      • +others

      I can confidently say that a PDA simp

  • Gates not all bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by opencity (582224) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @11:10PM (#15063437) Homepage
    Gates once stood up at a do-gooder tech conference (saving Africa with wifi or some such) and said: These people don't need computers, they need security, clean water and medicine. Bash Gates and MS for their ugly tech all you want, and I do, but he ponies up cash for real health problems. I honestly doupt MS is worried about market share in the Sudan.

    Flame away, I can take it.
    • Re:Gates not all bad (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kakos (610660) *
      Knowledge is far more important than security, clean water, or medicine. Knowledge is, ultimately, more important than life itself. "Who knows only their own generation remains forever a child." We can keep sending food, medicine, etc. to the developing countries of the world, but until they have a glimpse of what possibilities lie outside of their world and what wonders they can strive for, they will never truly be alive. It is knowledge that helps a people grow and ultimately better themselves. Yes,
  • by bfwebster (90513) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:49AM (#15063844) Homepage
    I lived in Central America (Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama) for two years, back in 1972-74. The literacy rate in Honduras and Nicaragua at that time was around 25-30%; there were no public schools; still, most people had electricity and a significant number had telephones. I knew lots of bright kids and young adults who would have benefitted tremendously from something like the $100 laptop. Using the US consumer price index as a crude measure of purchasing power, a current (2006) $100 laptop would be a $25 laptop back then--and lots of families I knew could have afforded that (and would have leapt at the opportunity).

    Interestingly enough, the literacy rate in neighboring Costa Rica at that time was something over 95%, higher than even in the US. The people were well educated, but (compared to the US) poor. I can argue that they would benefit even more from the $100 laptop.

    Several posters here seem stuck on a image of giving these laptops to Masai tribes in unelectrified Kenyan backcountry. The potential market for such laptops is global; there are many millions of people who live in countries with the requisite electric infrastructure, who could eke out $100 for one of these laptops, and who could benefit thereby due to poor educational opportunities in their countries. ..bruce..

  • by AiZ (595385) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:52AM (#15063866)
    We, the people who live in those needy countries do not need cheap computers.
    Thank you Nicholas, but we need some other stuff first if you guys want to help us. And our governments are so stupid that they will buy these computers for our people instead of using that money to address some other issues.

    The will is ok, but it will end up doing us worse.

    In my country (Argentina) all those computers will end up in wrong hands. We dont need computers for education; it seems that americans believe that are helping the world, but from this side of the counter it is all different.

    Countries dont need to be invaded to get help... not with your armies, not with your patents, not with your companies that take full advantage of our corrupt governments (as this project)... It is our fault, but please stop "helping" us in those ways because it harms people seriously.

    Your banks lend money to our govs, that money goes somewhere else, no-one controls that seriously and we all end up paying that "help" and nobody gets anything.

    Nicholas, if you want to help then travel to our country and do something punctual. But SKIP governments; or else you will be feeding corruption and you will never know.

    Regards,
    AiZ
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Corrupt governments are generally allowed to survive for two reasons. The first is weaponry - that's the obvious one. This problem is basically unsolvable. You could try arming everyone (that's just a recipe for disaster), or you could try invading the country in question. But anything you can try will result in a bloodbath.

      The second is an uneducated population. If the population is uneducated, it's not going to be able to do anything much to stop you, assuming they even realise that there's something wron
    • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @04:13AM (#15064475) Homepage Journal
      We, the people who live in those needy countries do not need cheap computers.

      Who elected you spokesperson of a couple of billion people?

    • by swillden (191260)

      We, the people who live in those needy countries do not need cheap computers... In my country (Argentina)

      Sorry AiZ, but your country isn't the sort that Negroponte is targeting. Argentina's had a very rough time economically over the past few years, but compared to much of the world you're quite wealthy, and your country already has a well-educated populace with a very high literacy rate (slightly higher than the US, actually).

      So why don't you let the people who are the targets of this effort speak f

  • I don't know. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zebra_X (13249) on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @03:08AM (#15064277)
    A laptop is all well and good. However, do we really have the software infrastucture to educate the people using this thing? ESPECIALLY in languages other than english? At the momement I'd have to go with no.

    I think what the world needs more than anything at the moment, is a device to connect everyone. Read Steven Baxters "Manifold Time". I much prefer his conception of the global device than the idea of a laptop.

    And TBH, that device could be made for under 100 bones. Add in the idea of a kiosk operator and you'd have a winning combination!
  • by DeathPenguin (449875) * on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @11:39AM (#15066976)
    Another noteworthy thing about this project is that it's going to be based on entirely free software. Free as in beer, and free as in speech, right down to the BIOS (LinuxBIOS [linuxbios.org] in this case). And seeing how LinuxBIOS + GNU/Linux breaks their dreams of controlling everyone's machine via "Trusted Computing" (Or whatever they're calling it these days) I doubt Intel and Microsoft are very fond of the deployment of this machine on a grand scale. Their own greed has caused them to be cut out of the picture like a cancer.

    OLPC is on the virge of doing what the fossils in these companies and in governments have only been able to talk about for the past several years--Bridge the digital divide. I'll bet the FSF [fsf.org] people are happy they can now have their 100% free software+firmware laptop, though maybe not in the form they were expecting it ;-)
  • Some points (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattr (78516) <mattr AT telebody DOT com> on Wednesday April 05, 2006 @12:49PM (#15067867) Homepage Journal
    Negroponte has I believe said IIRC from one of his presentations that as tech improves, the $100 pricepoint could be maintained but keep improving the machine. To me, this means that as an economy improves the machine will appear cheaper while becoming more powerful.

    People used to laugh at him about even being able to do it for $100, the key I think he had said was a $30 LCD. Looks like he did it.

    Consider there are perhaps the same number of geniuses (in literature, chemistry, particle physics, politics, whatever) born per million in population in the third world as in say the U.S.A. or other countries. The number of Nobels handed out would seem to speak more of the educational system. What if there is no way for geniuses to get more than grade school teaching?

    Imagine the same exact you was born in the third world. If you are a slashdot geek maybe you are a self-starter and just need the machine in your hands. Personally I used Pascal, 6502 Assembler and two flavors of Basic on my Apple ][ and it was great. But I was so frustrated having hear a whisper of something called the Internet (not public then) and being able to figure out how to reach it. Got stuck in BBSs and finally the Source (Compuserve). They were not really the gateways to knowledge I was trying to find but I used what I could get to. Screw politics and economic systems. Tell me you wouldn't want that machine. I used to dream of something called a Dynabook described in the World Book Encylopedia's Year Book, in which you could make a character move around using Smalltalk commands. I saw it in my sleep. Of course these kids need medicine and food, this assumes that is available for at least smart kids.

    I helped support a Cambodian school for children with no parents called Future Light. A friend who started it got Apple to donate a bunch of Macs, and it is growing perhaps the next generation of Cambodia's leaders, at least as that friend believes.

    A representative from Nigeria at a conference I remember said you cannot solve everything with IT - there is a problem finding firewood, and the worst problem is the brain drain from rural to the city. Maybe these machines would help support the rural populace too. Assume the smartest people you have ever met live in an economically disadvantaged locale. Are you telling me they couldn't do anything with a laptop like this which makes its own grid lan?

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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