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OLPC featured on "60 Minutes"

By Joe Barr on May 21, 2007 (8:00:00 AM)

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Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project was featured last night on the popular CBS news program "60 Minutes." Prototypes of the AMD-powered OLPC laptops running Linux are now being tested by schoolchildren in Brazil and elsewhere.

"60 Minutes" also reported on the problems caused the humanitarian project from what Negroponte described as "predatory" efforts by Intel to compete with OLPC with its own low-cost laptop, the Classmate PC.

CBS showed footage from Reaksmy, the Cambodian village where the dream was born, to the first use of prototype OLPC machines by school children near Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the government is watching closely to help it decide if and how many of the machines it should purchase.

When "60 Minutes" reporter Lesley Stahl asked if Intel's efforts had harmed OLPC, Negroponte said yes, and claimed that OLPC is caught in a war between Intel and AMD. Craig Barrett, the chairman of Intel's board of directors, denied that the company was trying to drive OLPC out of business; instead, he said, "We're trying to bring capability to young people."

But Negroponte provided Stahl with evidence of his claim in the form of Intel documents which had been mailed to the government of Nigeria. The documents criticized the OLPC project while hyping the Classmate PC. When Stahl showed those documents to Barrett, he admitted that the letter came from Intel. Stahl pressed on, saying "somebody at Intel sees this as competition."

Barrett then changed his tune, saying, "Well, someone at Intel was comparing the Classmate PC with another device being offered in the marketplace. That's the way our business works."

That sounds right to me, but coming as it did on the heels of his earlier remarks about the Classmate PC being motivated by a desire to help children rather than as competition for OLPC, Barrett's remarks cost Intel tremendous credibility as to its true motivation.

Stahl asked Negroponte why, if his effort were truly humanitarian rather than commercial, were Intel and others fighting against it so hard. Negroponte explained, "Because the numbers are so large. They look at those numbers and they say, 'If we're not in those, we're toast.'" Negroponte believes that the OLPC project has the potential to reach more than a billion children.

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Negropnte on "60 Minutes"

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 22, 2007 01:26 AM
IMHO, and I am a critic of the OLPC initiative, I think Mr. Negroponte came across as a bit childish. He has a vision, a laptop for every child - fine, he makes no money with his laptop - fine, then why does he care if it is his laptop or Intel's laptop the kids have?

The OLPC machine is a marvel, the tech is great, but do you realize OLPC needs to have firm orders for 3 MILLION laptops before they can deliver production models? What?

Many countries they present the project to balk, because there is no international organization willing to front the money to buy the laptops, build the infrastructure, and teach the users about the hardware/software/internet. The money a Nigeria (for example) will spend on laptops ($100-150/each) is money taken from elsewhere in the economy - they don't have "extra" money for laptops...

60 Minutes/Negroponte tried to spin this as AMD vs. Intel - it's a simple case of a market for millions and milions of laptops, and, suprise suprise, laptop Mfgs. want to get involved in this market...

It was also interesting that one of the uses for laptops in these third-world countries is to act as a night light, in a hut that has no electricity and no other form of illumination (gas/candles)... Wouldn't it be nice to send them some solar cells, rechargeable batteries, and a light bulb or two?

Oh, and an OLPC in USA - forget it, we have to pay a "wealth tax" and buy two - one for someone in another country, and one for ourselves. What? At that price, perfectly capable laptops can be bought that run Vista/WinXP/Linux/*BSD/Solaris/etc...

Ken

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Re:Negropnte on "60 Minutes"

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 22, 2007 08:54 AM
You lost the point, OLPC is for help poor children around the world, Get the facility of education and technology.

Intel wants to make business with this IDEA("this kind of projects"). Intel are for the money not for the help to humanity. OLPC helps humanity. Intel destroy humanity, they dont give a shit about poor children just they are hungry of money about this IDEA that as the article said it is 1 billion of children you get the picture.

OLPC is not for USA rich children, IT's for USA and around the World poor children that doesnt have anything, It brings hopes to them.

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Re:Negropnte on "60 Minutes"

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 22, 2007 05:33 PM
[QUOTE]Oh, and an OLPC in USA - forget it, we have to pay a "wealth tax" and buy two - one for someone in another country, and one for ourselves. What? At that price, perfectly capable laptops can be bought that run Vista/WinXP/Linux/*BSD/Solaris/etc...[/QUOTE]

Right... with tax paid of course to Microsoft, Dell (or whoever else you choose), BS-BIOS (B***-S*** BIOS) providers and so on. Not to mention, using BS-technology (thats B***-S*** again, if you missed it) for meagre power savings as compared to the OLPC.

Well you've certainly made the ethical choice my friend.

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Re:Negropnte on "60 Minutes"

Posted by: Joe Barr on May 22, 2007 01:33 AM

Personally, I don't understand the need to attack someone for doing good, or trying to do good. Certainly that is a better goal than being a ruthless, duplicitous, robber baron than the Chairman of the board at Intel.


Not all Americans believe greed is a family value or that the bottom line is the holy grail. If you do, fine, swim with the filth. But you don't need to throw crap on those who have a higher purpose.

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I hope this opportunity isn't lost

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 22, 2007 06:44 PM
The OLPC project is about education, which means that the machine itself is able to be completely dismantled and rebuilt safely and easily by children with a little learning, the software it runs is designed around creativity and collaboration, and there are freely improvable textbooks being written for it.

If this project gets destroyed by Intel that would be a terrible waste. Intel's project is nothing like as committed as the OLPC project. Intel just want to sell computers. These computers will then be used to run Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, etc. (probably illegally). Whilst this may be better than nothing, if it derails the attempts of OLPC to get children learning, using and improving an education-oriented system, rather than training with, buying and pirating an office-worker oriented system, then it is a bad thing.

The major problem is, whilst some nations such as Brazil have a number of dedicated FLOSS-type people acting in the government, who can see past the "computers are used for running Windows" brainwashing, most (like in Romainia) would probably choose the Classmate PC option as it is what they use themselves. It is hard to criticise a computer system when talking to people who use it every day.

I think the arguments given to governments to support the OLPC should draw the distinction between a system designed for office workers to help them get all of their reports, invoices, etc. done, which may let children at least write things down on a computer, and a system which is designed around education, letting the children learn for themselves and from each other, and express their creativity in whatever ways they want and probably most importantly to NOT BE RESTRICTED when they become motivated to do something (especially computer/programming related).

If countries really want to use cheap laptops to produce a generation of technology-using workers to bring money in then ask them what they would prefer, to have a country full of people who know only how to use expensive foreign programs to write things, or a country full of people able to start up their own Microsoft corporations if they wanted to (not counting the ethical issues, of course<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:P ).

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