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One Laptop Per Child and Intel Join Forces 143

Posted by Zonk
from the they-thought-of-the-children dept.
dan the person writes "A Wired piece informs us that Intel and the OLPC project have put their bickering behind them. They have joined forces to ensure 'the maximum number of laptops will reach children'. '"What happened in the past has happened," said Will Swope of Intel. "But going forward, this allows the two organisations to go do a better job and have better impact for what we are both very eager to do which is help kids around the world." "Intel joins the OLPC board as a world leader in technology, helping reach the world's children. Collaboration with Intel means that the maximum number of laptops will reach children," said Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop per Child. The new agreement means that Intel will sit alongside companies such as Google and Red Hat as partners in the OLPC scheme.'"
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One Laptop Per Child and Intel Join Forces

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  • Wonderful. Intel, maker of the Classmate PC, a DIRECT COMPETITOR to the OLPC (or so they say) is now teaming up with it. This is a transparent bid to relegate the OLPC to permanent second-class citizenship. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
    • by Stanistani (808333) on Friday July 13, 2007 @01:38PM (#19850947) Homepage Journal
      I can see two tiers of low-cost laptops, as discussed in the Wired piece, being an advantage to a rollout, and the technical assistance (possibly some funding) from Intel being invaluable.

      Intel knows that if this effort is successful, their future customers will be using these devices.
    • I expect one of three things to happen:

      1. The second generation of OLPC units will ship with Intel inside.

      2. Intel will suck as much information as it can out of the OLPC project before going its own way again.

      3. Intel will stay onboard at OLPC but do its best to bog the project down while pushing its competing solutions to the developing world.

      None of those scenarios particularly appeal to me, but if I had to choose between them I'd go for the first one.
      • by aztec rain god (827341) on Friday July 13, 2007 @02:16PM (#19851421)
        Two laptops per child!
      • 4. The system will come with suck ass on board video and will also need to come with 1gb - 2gb + 15 of ram + 15gb+ of flash just so it can run vista as by the time like the OLPC v2 comes out XP will be not sold any more. Right now the classmate has 256mb of ram with on board video and it can run xp but that needs 2GB of NAND Flash and trying run vista on 512mb with on board video will not work.
        • by daskinil (991205)
          should run vista just fine with 1gb of RAM and on board video, at least that what my laptop has, i gots no lag- and its not exactly a new or high end laptop
        • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday July 13, 2007 @04:14PM (#19852631)

          ...just so it can run vista as by the time like the OLPC v2 comes out XP will be not sold any more.

          If the XO ran Windows -- any version -- it would be worse than useless for the purpose of the OLPC. The whole point is to have software designed for education, wrapped in an operating system that's completely user-modifiable (to encourage the students to creatively hack it). This is fundamentally incompatible with Windows.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by suv4x4 (956391)
            The whole point is to have software designed for education, wrapped in an operating system that's completely user-modifiable (to encourage the students to creatively hack it). This is fundamentally incompatible with Windows.

            Yea it's like the real world: you're free to develop products that work within it, but you can't change laws of physics. This should be pretty distressing for a child.

            But I say we take this further. If Vista is useless since you can't have a kid recompile it, how useless is a hardware yo
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I have a bad feeling about technology in general. Back about 10 years ago, I couldn't wait to see the day when we figured out more efficient ways of creating oxygen so we could completely demolish all the trees to build massive cities. (Of course, this was a very ignorant view for many reasons, seeing as how most of our oxygen comes from the sea, and, if we were to destroy all trees there would be a multitude of problems completely aside from oxygen, etc.)

      Anyway, my point is this. I don't claim to be 'grown
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Alistar (900738)
        Heck, we basically live in a sci-fi world looking through the eyes of a 1930s person.

        They would have never have thought you could get a computer into the size of a watch.

        Secondly, there is more to computer and technology group than coders.
        I don't know what your background is specifically, but something that electronic engineers learn in their very first year of classes is a little thing called the transistor and boolean algebra. Thats kind of pretty much where our modern electronics stem from at the moment.
    • The current device that the OLPC has created is neither the last nor possibly the only unit that the project might support. If you look at roadmaps, esp since Intel is 18 months ahead of AMD on manufacturing process technology, it will have much more powerful cpus than the dated old National Semi Geode technology that AMD bought - in a similar or lower power profile. Check out Silverthorne [intel.com] to see what's coming.
      Negroponte was probably right to use Geode when the the first OLPC unit was designed, but looking
      • by jabuzz (182671)
        I don't see a thing in that about power consumption. Given that the Geode LX that OLPC are using consumes a mere 0.5W I very much doubt that Intel will match this.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Mokurai (458416)
        Silverthorne is described as running at 5W or more, while the Geode LX runs at less than 2W average for most applications when correctly using suspend/resume. The Geode should remain the choice in places where regular power is lacking. Although OLPC availability should speed up access to electrical power in many areas, on the Articulate Voting Populations principle.

        (Disclosure: I worked on Geode documentation for National Semiconductor in 2000. AMD has the descendants of my documents online.)
    • Intel or no Intel (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Bombula (670389)
      As long as kids around the world are dying from diarrhea because they don't have running water or electricity, this is still a dumb idea. And speaking of no electricity, I take it these laptops are either solar or bicycle powered?
      • by Bombula (670389)
        Mod my comment flamebait if you like. It's true nonetheless. If you don't agree, try making a rational argument to the contrary instead of just using your mod points to mark comments down that you disagree with.
        • by Nazlfrag (1035012)
          Look, it was flamebait, if you can't see why I'll explain. Note, I didn't mod you, but here's how I saw your comment.

          Firstly, this project has nothing to do with water supplies or diarrhea. The fact it doesn't save children from these horrors has nothing to do at all with the design or intent of the OLPC. You created what is known as a strawman argument, arguing that the OLPC is useless because it doesn't do something it was never intended to do. Strawmen arguments are logically flawed reasoning and as such

          • by Bombula (670389)
            I'll just respond to say that mine was not a strawman argument. I've lived in developing countries for nearly two decades. The need for laptops is not just slightly but grotesquely outweighed by the need for more urgent measures of socioeconomic redress, of which safe drinking water and reliable electricity are merely the tip of the iceberg. The notion that delivering laptop computers to millions of children in the developing world is somehow a constructive use of time, energy and financial resources giv
  • Gar (Score:3, Funny)

    by Neil Blender (555885) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Friday July 13, 2007 @01:36PM (#19850927)
    Just give them a Speak & Spell. It'll have as much value at a quarter of the price. Plus it already exists.
  • Does anyone else think that this was part of Intel's plan all along? Basically: create a cheap computer, and call the OLPC garbage, then offer an olive branch in exchange for a piece of their contract and a chance to push their crap PC worldwide?
  • So i guess (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13, 2007 @01:50PM (#19851079)
    that AMD processor won't last long in the OLPC machines ...
    • Re:So i guess (Score:4, Informative)

      by Pecisk (688001) on Friday July 13, 2007 @02:19PM (#19851449)
      RTFA. AMD will power first and second series of OLPC machines. Intel will provide platforms (propably some low level P4/Xeon with resistant structure) for _servers_ which will serve those little boxes in class room and outside of it.

      After that it is hard to say - I think AMD processors are more suitible for OLPC for now, but what will future bring - who knows.
      • I think AMD processors are more suitible for OLPC for now, but what will future bring - who knows.

        I'm really surprised they went with AMD. They are using the Geode line, which is basically a souped-up 486. Intel don't have a direct competitor since they sold their XScale line off, but I don't understand why they went with Geode rather than an ARM9 core of some kind. Going x86 limits them to two suppliers (only one really at that performance level), while a large number of companies produce ARM chips. Additionally, ARM chips are in pretty much every single mobile phone, and so they are used to huge

        • by arivanov (12034)
          You are right that going x86 limits them to two suppliers in this space, but the suppliers are not AMD and Intel, they are AMD and Via. Any C3 series CPU beats the holy crap out of the Geode while having comparable power consumption if run at the same frequency. In addition to this, the more recent ones have crypto accel which can become very handy when trying to establish mesh networks in the middle of nowhere. Add to that a very reasonable and throughly open source platform for the rest. The only missing
        • I don't understand why they went with Geode rather than an ARM9 core of some kind.

          I've been looking at this issue, and basically using a PC-compatible architecture makes so many things easier, especially when you're talking about desktop apps, driver support, etc. etc. etc. Linux on ARM is a confusing mess to get working for people used to PC's. I've got a Geode board here running an OLPC image, which is a basically a Fedora I can telnet into and get work done using standard tools. Replicating this aroun
          • "Linux on ARM is a confusing mess to get working for people used to PC's."

            Are you talking end users or developers? End users don't see any difference. Most stuff already works with arm, so apparently developers don't see much of a difference.
            • Most stuff already works with arm, so apparently developers don't see much of a difference.

              All of the stuff I've seen involves setting up cross-compilers, building firmware images, burning those images to target boards, debugging with JTAG's, etc. With a PC-based system you ssh in and hack.

        • Ever heard of Silverthorne? Reap the whirlwind: http://overclockers.com/tips01150/ [overclockers.com]

          Hard core high performance (per watt especially) SOC.

      • I suspect Asustek's EEE PC is one reason they decided to join. They're going to hit the po' folks crowd with a $200 dollar laptop and let OLPC worry about indoctrinating their children.
    • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Friday July 13, 2007 @02:53PM (#19851815) Homepage Journal
      No, OLPC and Intel are simply joining forces to create the new Soylent processor - One Child Inside(TM).

  • by bADlOGIN (133391) on Friday July 13, 2007 @01:52PM (#19851107) Homepage
    Before the US becomes a 3rd world country due to competition from
    India and China who can get the OLPC Laptop in special deals to
    make their next generation of children more competitive?
    • Before the US becomes a 3rd world country due to competition from India and China who can get the OLPC Laptop in special deals to make their next generation of children more competitive?

      I've seen two examples of schools in my local neighborhood bragging about how their gifted fifth-grade students were using Powerpoint to give their school reports. In one case, I saw an example of it with all sort of pictures, and the GATE teacher bragged, "and one report had a video on it!!"

      Of course, I'm thinking how pathetically easy it is to put together this sort of presentation, and I was struck not by the content (as I should), but by how much the teacher valued the flash over the substance of the report.

      If we want to make our children more "competitive", maybe it would be a better idea to keep computers away from them as long as possible. Any idiot can learn to use a computer. I'd rather end up with educated children.

      • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Friday July 13, 2007 @02:21PM (#19851481) Journal

        Of course, I'm thinking how pathetically easy it is to put together this sort of presentation, and I was struck not by the content (as I should), but by how much the teacher valued the flash over the substance of the report.
        I had the same problem in pen & paper days. Some of my teachers were more worried about the presentation and neatness of handwriting than they were about what I actually wrote. One of my teachers even bragged about how his teacher used to beat the crap out of him if the letters on his page weren't exactly the 'right' height. I think you're probably seeing a modern version of the same phenomenon. It's usually a sign of an incompetent teacher. When they don't know their stuff, they just can you for something irrelevant to seem like they're doing something. Fortunately, I found those teachers to be in the minority.
        • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

          I had the same problem in pen & paper days. Some of my teachers were more worried about the presentation and neatness of handwriting than they were about what I actually wrote.

          Well, I don't know if I'm willing to go this far. There's a difference between neatness and flash. If I was a teacher and had to squint at chicken scratches trying to understand what a student wrote, I'd make neatness count as well. Part of education is learning to be organized and have reasonably clear penmanship (another ite

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I guess you would also give bad grades to black kids because they had different accents? Who the hell are you?
            • I guess you would also give bad grades to black kids because they had different accents? Who the hell are you?

              Uh.... no.... but I would give bad grades in a speech class to someone who mumbled. This isn't about different styles of writing, it's about legibility. I wouldn't care if someone puts a horizontal line through their Z or not, but there's no excuse of total sloppiness to the point that you can't read it.

              Too many people give excuses about their writing. Anyone can write neatly, and above the ag

        • Same here. My average grade in English was a C, because I have terrible handwriting. At GCSE, when we were allowed to use a computer, it shot to an A*. Now I make a living as a freelance writer (if only I could charge /. my standard rate I'd be rich). Handwriting and command of the English language were so tightly connected in the minds of some teachers that good work in poor handwriting would get bad marks.
          • At GCSE, when we were allowed to use a computer, it shot to an A*.

            Your grade turned into a search algorithm?

      • by Prof.Phreak (584152) on Friday July 13, 2007 @02:53PM (#19851817) Homepage
        If we want to make our children more "competitive", maybe it would be a better idea to keep computers away from them as long as possible. Any idiot can learn to use a computer. I'd rather end up with educated children.

        Which might explain why they're not giving out these things in US. It's all a conspiracy for US to gain intellectual supremacy over the world.
      • Your example is an all too classic The problem with applying "business tools"
        to education. My wife is a high school English teacher. Do you know how well an
        outlook calendar "maps" onto a class schedule? It doesn't. However, that doesn't
        stop the all too stupid administration from expecting teachers to use it because it's
        "a calendaring tool we have already paid for".

        The great potential about the OLPC Linux distribution is that only applications
        relevant to education need be written, packaged, and included.
      • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday July 13, 2007 @04:24PM (#19852745)

        I've seen two examples of schools in my local neighborhood bragging about how their gifted fifth-grade students were using Powerpoint to give their school reports. In one case, I saw an example of it with all sort of pictures, and the GATE teacher bragged, "and one report had a video on it!!" Of course, I'm thinking how pathetically easy it is to put together this sort of presentation, and I was struck not by the content (as I should), but by how much the teacher valued the flash over the substance of the report.

        You know what the worst part is? This is actually a regression from what we had 15 years ago when I was in 5th grade!

        Back then, we had Hypercard -- like PowerPoint, except programmable. Not only could we have embedded videos in our stacks (if sufficiently fast machines had been available, anyway), but we could also program animations, link together our cards/slides in non-linear ways, and even build applications with it.

        Between Hypercard, LOGO, and games like Number Munchers and Oregon Trail, computers were better used for education back then than they are today!

        • by suv4x4 (956391)
          This is actually a regression from what we had 15 years ago [..] Back then, we had Hypercard -- like PowerPoint, except programmable.

          Uhm yea right... Powerpoint is also programmable (VB), but the UI is just good enough that you don't need to do it. I mean there's no much to *program* in a *presentation* right, let's be fair...

          Next thing you'll claim graphical UI is a step back from the superior command prompt (since it's harder).
          • I mean there's no much to *program* in a *presentation* right, let's be fair...

            That's exactly my point! Hypercard wasn't just for presentations, with programmability hidden away as an afterthought. And that's exactly what made it good!

        • Educational software and hardware in the 80s and then slowly fading in the 90s were far better than today.

          Not only are the same "old school" goals at work on OLPC but one of the members, Seymour Papert is involved with OLPC. He promoted constructionist learning which was the concept behind LOGO and LEGO/LOGO (see "Mindstorms") and influenced intelligently designed software of that time.

          Number Munchers and Oregon Trail were among a long list of wonderful MECC software designed BY EDUCATORS for the Minnesota
        • by zobier (585066)
          I miss HyperCard.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Oldsmobile (930596)
      I remember reading an article about schools in the US who have given out laptops to children. The article concluded, that laptops have been a mixed blessing, and certainly have not contributed to higher grades. In fact, they have been deemed a nuisance in the classroom by some, causing disruption and being a distraction to students (surfing porn in class, lol). Maintenance issues have also been cited as a major drawback of such programs.

      Of course the OLPC is directed at very young children, children who liv
    • by smannell (157236)
      I agree with your sentiment, but just to be anal; it's Old World, New World, and Third World. The US is part of the New World, and will be even after the dollar becomes useless and our GNP is less than that of Bangledesh.
  • by cashman73 (855518) on Friday July 13, 2007 @01:54PM (#19851141) Journal
    The RIAA is really looking forward to the day when every child in the world has their own computer. There's tons of countries in the developing world that they'll now be able to target with threats of lawsuits for downloading copyrighted music!
    • I better copyright those kids and claim them as my own, this way the RIAA will have to pay ME royalties whenever they sue them! :D
  • does this mean... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shutupkevin (1127139) on Friday July 13, 2007 @01:59PM (#19851193)
    that we're going to have a lot more children discovering internet porn sooner? :O I can just imagine the next generation of kids.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560)

      that we're going to have a lot more children discovering internet porn sooner?
      Sooner? Didn't your parents have the special magazines in the sock drawer?

      :O I can just imagine the next generation of kids.
      Good for them. At least they won't have to find out at such an early age what disturbing fetishes their parents have.. *shudder*
    • I can just imagine the next generation of kids.

      Yeah, imagine a whole generation of kids growing up without the unhealthy guilt our prudish society indoctrinated into us!

    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      that we're going to have a lot more children discovering internet porn sooner? :O I can just imagine the next generation of kids.

      I just realized something: each baby when born is looking and sucking his mom's boobs few times each day. This sort of perversion should be really unnatural and stressing for the child.

      Imagine the terrible kinds of effects this has on its poor baby psyche. Those mothers are monsters!
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Do you realize what an opportunity this represents for third world kids? They'll be able to start running identity theft scams and credit card frauds before they even reach puberty!
  • by slapout (93640) on Friday July 13, 2007 @01:59PM (#19851209)
    OLPC guy #1: Looks like we're not going to be able to make this thing for $150. How are we going to get costs down?

    OLPC guy #2: Guess it's time to sell some more ad-space. Where are we on the phone list?

    OLPC guy #1: Looks like we're doing to the "I"s.

    OLPC guy #2: Start dialing.
  • by going_the_2Rpi_way (818355) on Friday July 13, 2007 @02:13PM (#19851377) Homepage
    It's a great idea and a noble goal. But there's still a lot of valid questions about how good an idea this specific project is. Aside from the clear opportunity for people, government and corporations to take advantage of good intentions, there's a consistent theme of imposing western/northern hemisphere values for the wrong people place/application.

    It's not unlike the good intentions that led to rebuilding of "better" houses in Sumatra for instance after the great Tsunami. Modern, western style housing just doesn't make sense there. It uses and demands much more freshwater than traditional homes and no-one can afford to run them. As a result the population has typically abandoned the new homes, which remain unoccupied, in favour of traditional homes.

    In fact I would argue that corporations (and governments who use money to buy these computers) will likely breed more hostility and resentment than anything by disseminating computers to people who can't afford three squares a day.
    • There are also questions as to how -useful- laptops are. Over the last 10-20 years, as computers were introduced in US schools (high schools?), did grades (or any other educational indicator) go up overall? The few 1-3 nerds in every class might've benefited, but overall, I doubt technology impacted everyone's ability to learn (if not caused more harm).

      From my experience, kids who have laptops spend their day browsing the web or chatting... not learning. Every class that has computers turns out to be a wast
      • If those kids weren't browsing the web, they would more than likely be sitting in front of a television like zombies, being force-fed what to think. You may have a valid concern regarding computers in classrooms, though I believe that they can be a very good thing as long as they are implemented properly, but kids browsing the internet after school instead of laying on the couch, watching some fucking reality TV show is a good thing. Passive entertainment is nothing but a problem, as far as I am concerned.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *

        From my experience, kids who have laptops spend their day browsing the web or chatting... not learning. Every class that has computers turns out to be a waste (I've yet to see a class with computers that isn't a waste; and I taught quite a few of them).

        Back when I was in elementary school, the classes that involved things like Hypercard and LOGO weren't a waste. Perhaps the problem lies not with the concept of putting computers in the classroom, but with the dumbass teachers who think MS Office is the ulti

      • There are also questions as to how -useful- laptops are. Over the last 10-20 years, as computers were introduced in US schools (high schools?), did grades (or any other educational indicator) go up overall? The few 1-3 nerds in every class might've benefited, but overall, I doubt technology impacted everyone's ability to learn (if not caused more harm).

        Teaching with technology isn't better than older methods of teaching reading or math, but I would say that children are more familiar with technology. The l

    • It's not unlike the good intentions that led to rebuilding of "better" houses in Sumatra for instance after the great Tsunami. Modern, western style housing just doesn't make sense there. It uses and demands much more freshwater than traditional homes and no-one can afford to run them. As a result the population has typically abandoned the new homes, which remain unoccupied, in favour of traditional homes.

      How so? In particular, how exactly do Western-style homes require more fresh water?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I know it's off-topic (sorry), but (s)he asked, so here goes....

        For starters, you're talking about houses that are built on the assumption of a centralized water supply system, which doesn't currently exist to any meaningful degree. The same can also be said for the new schools and nurseries. In addition to assuming water will be supplied, the builders assume an availability and usage rate of water that while reasonable in North America or Europe for instance (and we use LOTS of water, btw) is simply unr
        • ...(s)he asked...

          Hint: My screen name is Mr. Chaotica. ; )

          In addition to assuming water will be supplied, the builders assume an availability and usage rate of water...

          What, you mean in the specific fixtures used and the design of kitchens and bathrooms? Even so, why should having unusable kitchens and bathrooms cause abandonment of the entire house? All they'd have to do is shut off the main valve and cap the drains (to avoid unpleasant sewer gases) and it'd be fine. The result -- having to carry in all

    • Aside from the clear opportunity for people, government and corporations to take advantage of good intentions, there's a consistent theme of imposing western/northern hemisphere values for the wrong people place/application.

      No one in the developed world is forcing developing nations governments to choose to spend their own money to buy into the OLPC project. It's not like the US Marines are landing on the beaches of Brazil and distributing XOs at gunpoint.

      All OLPC does is work with countries that decide the

      • All OLPC does is work with countries that decide they like the idea to meet their needs, and sell them computers

        I'd refer you to the history of Eritrea and Ethiopia, Uganda, or countless others. It's not uncommon for regimes, or even benevolent governments to have priorities different from the populace (this even happens in North America, but since we're talking about 'developing'). And if you don't think governments can be coerced into buying specific products through purely economic methods, you haven'
        • I'd refer you to the history of Eritrea and Ethiopia, Uganda, or countless others. It's not uncommon for regimes, or even benevolent governments to have priorities different from the populace (this even happens in North America, but since we're talking about 'developing').

          No doubt, government decision makers can have different ideas of what is useful than the people, and even when they don't, both government decision makers and the people can be wrong at the time they make decisions and those decisions can

          • Nevertheless, other than the abstract possibility that such a disconnect could be occurring [..] Since I specifically discussed the possibility in the post you are responding to,

            You dismissed it. Unduly, I feel, but whatever. I raised it again, but as less of a caricature. Whenever any product goes from A) to B) dollars are spend and margins can be made. And in such cases, whenever there's a possibility of someone making a buck, there's also a probability of it. If you want me to provide evidence that it
  • ...so, umm, what happens to Microsoft?

    Since the OLPC is running a FOSS OS core, and Intel is part of the OLPC now, I guess this leaves Windows out in the cold.

    Not that I mind that or anything, but I find it interesting - after all, Intel and MSFT had teamed up to build the OLPC former competitor, yes?

    As for AMD, I suspect that they and Intel will have to put their differences aside (w/o all the sniping commentary from AMD over a charity team-up announcement, at least as shown on the CNET version of TF

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by musicon (724240)

      Actually, Intel's Classmate PC is designed to run either Windows or Linux, and on all of the reviews I have heard thus far Mandriva Linux was the installed OS.

      Additionally, although it's unlikely to work well within the system's constraints, Microsoft is also at least evaluating the OLPC, and is one of 1500+ developers signed up with them.

      Finally (slightly off topic), now that Intel has sold off the ARM division, I don't know that they have a low-enough wattage CPU at this time that could be a viable repl

  • So between this and yesterday's news [slashdot.org], are we going to see OLPC output one VM per child for those where infrastructure is possible to do so?
  • Waits to be flamed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Friday July 13, 2007 @03:27PM (#19852175)
    The OLPC concept is good, but seriously I think we have more pressuring issues to deal with. I'm not against the advancement of technology and what the OLPC has done has been good for what it was designed for.

    But at the same time I feel like it's a waste of money compared to better causes, like I dont know, FEEDING or MEDICINE for kids. Granted I grew up poor, and I wish I had a laptop when I was in high school and younger would have been able to kick start my career even earlier. But even then if it came to me having a free laptop, or seeing the kid down the street who eats government peanut butter on bread (no jelly) every day and no medical insurance. I'd gladly give it up to feed him/her for a while.

    From a small thinking perspective this project is great, from the big picture it's just diverting funds that could have been better used. For those about to flame me, Yes we should go to Mars! But we should we get things straight down here first.

    • by phedre (1125345)
      I have to agree with you. I remember when a friend of my dad wanted to start a project to get computers into the classrooms of some south african (i think) village. After much discussion, we all decided that it was not the most pressing issue in the village, and that they could be better helped in other ways, as you said.. food, clothing, medicine, shelter, REGULAR school supplies.. etc. you get the idea.
    • by pauljlucas (529435) on Friday July 13, 2007 @04:22PM (#19852715) Homepage Journal

      ... it's a waste of money compared to better causes like ... FEEDING or MEDICINE ...
      When the choice is cast as black-and-white as "Laptop or food/medicine?", I'd bet most people would choose the latter -- it's a no-brainer. The problem is that the problem isn't so simple and casting the problem to be so is somewhat disingenuous.

      You have to remember that philanthropy is often done by people with passion. Nicholas Negroponte [laptop.org] was the co-founder of the MIT Media Laboratory, so naturally he's passionate about computers. One thing about the nature of passion is that one who is passionate wants to instill the same passion in others. Negroponte has passion about computers (and money, which definitely helps), so let him express his philanthropy as he wants. So perhaps the question shouldn't be, "Why isn't Negroponte giving food and medicine?" but rather "Why isn't there some other rich philanthropist who is passionate about feeding kids and making sure they have decent medical care?" There's no shortage of rich men.

      Also, let's face it: giving food and medicine (a) just isn't sexy to the press and so doesn't garner support easily and (b) giving food and medicine is a never-ending job. Unlike giving a kids a laptop, you have to feed them three times a day every day. Even the most passionate philanthropist would likely burn out.

      Another thing you need to consider is the potential for kids to rise above their situation. Feeding kids just makes them not hungry; the results of giving kids access to the internet is unknown buy potentially unbounded.

      Consider what was done in Born into Brothels [kids-with-cameras.org]: poor children of prostitutes were given cameras. Could the kids have used more/better food/medicine? Of course. But what resulted from the cameras was (a) art and, for a few children, (b) a way out of their bleak station in life from their art and notoriety is garnered. As useful as food and medicine might be, it offers no hope of escaping their bleak lives. Who knows what kids might accomplish with laptops? Wouldn't it be interesting to find out?

      • That has to be the best writeup I've ever seen considering the topic. It's definitely helped my view of the world and will make a nice reference next time this kind of topic comes about.

        Guest I just never saw it from that angle before, and I agree.

      • When the choice is cast as black-and-white as "Laptop or food/medicine?", I'd bet most people would choose the latter -- it's a no-brainer.

        Are you sure it's a no-brainer? After all, which is better: having to support a large population [effectively] permanently on welfare, or creating a small population that can support themselves?

        While it might be morally distasteful, the pragmatist in me says that the latter situation is actually better!

      • Why isn't there some other rich philanthropist who is passionate about feeding kids and making sure they have decent medical care?


        I think you said Bill Ga&%@***NOTHING TO SEE HERE - MOVE ALONG - SLASHDOT MINISTRY OF TRUTH***
    • But at the same time I feel like it's a waste of money compared to better causes, like I dont know, FEEDING or MEDICINE for kids.

      Why? All that would do is create an excess of useless (i.e., uneducated) people who would then just suck more and more welfare. That's a waste of money! It's much better to have educated people, who could actually figure out how to eventually support themselves, even if you end up with fewer of them because the rest starved.

      Yes, I agree, this isn't the nicest way to look at it,

      • by orasio (188021)

        Also, by the way, your whole argument is moot anyway because the OLPC project is focusing on "developing" countries -- those that are slightly beyond the "basic survival" phase of development. The children under consideration do have food, water, and shelter; just not cable TV and malls.

        I am from Uruguay, the first OLPC country. They _do_ have access to cable TV (paid or unpaid) and malls, but the issue is that poor kids don't get the same opportunities in life that we get.
        We have virtually universal alphabetization, but differences in education are huge, nonetheless.
        Poor kids don't get to finish high school, and seldom get a college degree.
        Public education is not bad, but middle class kids can buy books, get private teachers, have internet, and also get extra curricular activities.
        This k

    • The OLPC concept is good, but seriously I think we have more pressuring issues to deal with.

      Then deal with them. The OLPC project will continue without you, I'm sure.

      Not everyone has to be involved in everything done by every private charity on Earth.

      But at the same time I feel like it's a waste of money compared to better causes, like I dont know, FEEDING or MEDICINE for kids.

      Please, feel free to give to organizations providing those, instead.

      Granted I grew up poor, and I wish I had a laptop when I was in

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by suv4x4 (956391)
      But at the same time I feel like it's a waste of money compared to better causes, like I dont know, FEEDING or MEDICINE for kids. Granted I grew up poor, and I wish I had a laptop when I was in high school and younger would have been able to kick start my career even earlier.

      You know, growing up in this world isn't about being comfy, having everything given to you, or everything being absolutely fair. Those are concepts that don't exist.

      "No pain no gain".

      Truth is if developed countries just keep sending tru
    • But at the same time I feel like it's a waste of money compared to better causes, like I dont know, FEEDING or MEDICINE for kids. Granted I grew up poor, and I wish I had a laptop when I was in high school and younger would have been able to kick start my career even earlier. But even then if it came to me having a free laptop, or seeing the kid down the street who eats government peanut butter on bread (no jelly) every day and no medical insurance. I'd gladly give it up to feed him/her for a while.

      I've

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Warbothong (905464)
      You're exactly right, so get the hell hell off Slashdot and sell your computer to get some bread to give to these countries. And whilst you're at it, dismantle your house, since I'm sure the plumbing system would come in handy for an irrigation system and there are countless other things you could do. Everybody should give up any modern technology they have until everyone in the world has it. Otherwise how else will the world advance? Surely nothing to do with new technological advances helping those less f
    • you'll probably get your wish. Flamers are rampant. I do however disagree with your premise.

      Unfortunately, you can't actually eat money, or plastic, or semi-conductors, or even rocket fuel. To feed the kid down the street, you would be much better served by getting the corn used to make ethanol, and feed it to people instead.

      Meanwhile, learn some old wisdom. "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." The end result of the programs started in the 1930's her
      • I agree with your statement. That's why I said I think what OLPC is doing a great job at what it was designed to do. We should be trying to feed children before giving them a laptop when they can't even afford electricity to power it. But your suggestion is also very true.

        We need to have both systems. One that can help people, then charities like OLPC to help them break out of their social bubble and hopefully better their position in life.

        Where I think welfare failed is because it did promote income wi

  • Doesn't Intel now have, what Teddy Roosevelt used to call, a "monopoly"? Isn't there a law against that? Shouldn't a monopoly be broken up by the government? Don't laugh, there was once a time when Americans elected leaders who actually defended us against the tyranny of capital.

"Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." -- "Ali Baba Bunny" [1957, Chuck Jones]

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