Monday, September 18, 2006

laptops saving the world?

I went to a business conference today in Tel Aviv, ostensibly for the free fancy hotel buffet lunch, but also to hear the keynote lecture by an Internet guru, the former head of the MIT Media Lab, Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of WIRED magazine. He was supposed to talk about the future, the next ten years, technology trends etc... Well, it was the future as he sees it. He's the founder of the One laptop per child non-profit organisation and he has come up with a $100 laptop that looks like this:And he wants to give this to every child in the world. All 500 million of them.

Ok, fine.

But then he started talking about how he is giving it to poor children in remote villages with no electricity or water. He joked that the first word these kids learn in English is "Google".

And I thought, Hey... shouldn't they perhaps get water and electricity before they Google? Where are our priorities?

Sure, it's admirable that NN wants every child to have an opportunity to educate themselves through the World Wide Web, but I'm sorry but I don't subscribe to the view that Internet kiosks in the jungle will bring peace and harmony to the world. I am sure the esteemed Internet guru is fully aware that the Internet, as well as helping nice people to connect and share, is a mecca for terrorists, providing them with the ideal infrastructure for transferring funds and know-how and recruiting new members.

No, you can't blame the technology if it is put to nefarious use, but all I am saying is that the Internet is not the panacea for all ills. Surely clean drinking water, a regular food supply and access to healthcare come first? Or should the kids just order that over Amazon?

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