Thursday, September 29, 2005

The World is About to Change

A group led by Nicholas Negroponte is about to make$100 laptops a possibility. They aren't for America or the West, though ultimately a commercial version will be available, but for the developing and Third Worlds.
The proposed design of the machines calls for a 500MHz processor, 1GB of memory and an innovative dual-mode display that can be used in full-color mode, or in a black-and-white sunlight-readable mode. The display makes the laptop "both an electronic book and a laptop," he said.

One display design being considered is a flat, flexible printed display developed at MIT's Media Lab. Negroponte said the technology can be used to produce displays that cost roughly 10 cents per square inch. "The target is $12 for a 12-inch display with near-zero power consumption," he said.

Power for the new systems will be provided through either conventional electric current, batteries or by a windup crank attached to the side of the notebooks, since many countries targeted by the plan do not have power in remote areas, Negroponte said.
They are to be made available to schoolchildren the world over.

Issues of connections to the internet are being worked on by others, but just having the computers is a huge step in connecting the poor and isolated of the world to the knowledge and information they desperately need to improve local health care, agriculture, politics, etc.

I really hope this idea works out. The implications are tremendous and exciting. Studies have repeatedly shown that societies that adopt Western liberal democratic representative government -- especially empowering women -- have dramatic improvements in life expectancy, quality of life, general health and literacy. They also experience significantly lower fertility rates that eventually lead to smaller populations. It's overall a win-win.

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