MIT’s One Laptop per Child Movement Sponsored By Google
MIT’s plans for a $100 durable laptop to be distributed to the children of the world were announced today with pictures of the laptops and the distribution plan. Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and co-founder of the MIT’s Media Lab, confirmed that five countries are already putting plans in place to distribute as many as 15 million of the devices. Those target countries are Brazil, China, Egypt, South Africa and Thailand.
The One Laptop per Child movement, which was launched by the MIT Media Lab, is a non-profit org with the mission to give laptops to the children of the world via local governments purchasing and distributing the laptops. The group plans to change today’s global teaching limitations with the program. Negroponte explained “This is not teaching as we know it; only part of our learning comes from teaching. Much of it comes from curiosity. These are tools that can help cultivate that learning process.”
One Laptop per Child, which innocently enough forsees only a 1% loss of the laptops due to theft, has taken the lifestyle and hardships of the ‘third world’ into consideration with the design of the laptop prototype. The Linux OS based laptop is built of weatherproof rubber and includes a manual crank to recharge the battery if there is not power source available.
Interestingly enough Google is one of the corporate sponsors of the program, along with AMD and RedHat, which brings to mind an interesting obstacle, Internet connection. Let’s take Brazil for example. In Brazil, the average DSL connection runs about $38 a month via Brasil Telecom, and then you need to pay a provider, like Terra, about $10 a month. Plus, there is the modem, which has to be purchased via the provider, at around $130. Given the average family wage of two or three salary minimums per household (about $220 to $330 a month) and the increased inflation, telephone and energy prices which have escalated more following the PT / Lula scandals, a DSL connection in Brazil is more or less impossible for the average family to pay for. Dial-up services can be even more expensive, since the user is charged per minute by both the phone company and the provider. Sure, Wi-fi spots may be available in certain sections of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but those select areas are of the elite or maybe even the middle class, not the majority percentage of the needy (diferencia social).
One solution brings Google into the picture, with Global Google Wi-fi or the GoogleNet. If Google, in the next three years can fund the research behind building these wi-fi ready inexpensive laptops, they more than likely will be able to offer a global wi-fi service by then. With rumors of the GoogleNet and Google Wi-fi in the works and their latest partnership with NASA, I highly expect Google to announce some sort of global wi-fi or satellite based Internet connection for the world’s poor to be announced once this One Laptop per Child program becomes a reality, which it hopefully will. Funded, by Google AdWords.