Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tech: One Laptop Per Child


You've probably heard about efforts to develop a $100 laptop for children in developing countries - but the project is getting closer and closer to fruition. The Children's Machine, or XO-1, is one of those ideas that seems utopian. Much of the world, aside from war-torn places like Darfur, is living relatively well - there's enough food to eat and water to drink. What is lacking for many children, however, is the chance to receive a modern education that could help them compete with the rest of the world in the Information Age.

Honestly, the rank and file of the children in these countries probably won't benefit much from these computers. Just because a child is from a poor country doesn't mean he or she will instantly take full advantage of the opportunity to learn. But in every group of people, there will be those who start tinkering and adapting to the technology. Maybe they'll start programming their own applications. Maybe they'll start writing their own blogs. Maybe they'll take classes in medicine. Some kid in Thailand or Brazil might be the next Einstein. If humanity can harness the gifted individuals who are currently languishing under the weight of poverty, we might all be better off.

The XO-1 is a good indication of how fast technology is moving. When I was in middle school, I used a laptop that weighed much more, used far more power, had a black-and-white screen, and was several times slower. The old laptop didn't have any wireless card, nor a digital camera, nor touchpads. Now, in a device that costs about $135, you're getting all those capabilities and more. Nice.

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