A project under development by Mary Lou Jepson, a former Intel chip designer, seeks to put $150 laptops into the hands of the world's children. While I wouldn't allow my children unfettered access to a laptop, they do get the benefits of using the information highway for all sorts of research. We have learned about pirates and other important people--forget the library, we go straight to the sources.
I can see how this access to information would be an advantage to a child out in the middle of nowhere. Like books, a computer can be a tool to connect people, educate people.
Bill Gates once thought this, too. According to his biography on his website:
Guided by a belief that the computer would be a valuable tool on every office desktop and in every home, they began developing software for personal computers. Gates' foresight and his vision for personal computing have been central to the success of Microsoft and the software industry.I tortured myself and read Gate's book Business at the Speed of Thought. My distinct impression was that like Sam Walton, Bill Gates was driven by a populist urge to get power to the people.
Now, a project presents itself to get information power to all the world, and Bill Gates balks:
The detractors include two computer industry giants, Intel and Microsoft, pushing alternative approaches. Intel has developed a $400 laptop aimed at schools as well as an education program that focuses on teachers instead of students. And Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and a leading philanthropist for the third world, has questioned whether the concept is “just taking what we do in the rich world” and assuming that that is something good for the developing world, too.How is more information a bad thing? Does he fear for the U.S.'s security, as computer networking enables the bad guys to communicate and learn bad things? Ha! If only, he had that concern.
No, I think Bill has morphed with his big bucks into a classic leftist elite. More concerned about maintaining power than innovating and a whole lot smarter than you or me, he wants to horde information.
There is this notion that people of different cultures have different fundamental needs than those of us lucky enough (would never say blessed) to live in Western society. That is just snooty nonsense. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs are the same today as ever. And Viktor Frankl was right, too: Men need meaning in their lives.
After being fed, clothed, and cared for, why not feed and care for the Third World's minds, too?