OLPC in the Senate: feedback from today’s event

One Laptop per Child made its public debut on Capitol Hill today with its “Fighting Insurgencies with Laptops” event.

Attendees and speakers, including the ambassadors from Afghanistan and Pakistan to the U.S., painted a picture of an eclectic mix of people from starkly different backgrounds and professions who came together to talk about One Laptop per Child as something that could be a clear manifestation of U.S. smart power. As Senator McCain said, there is nothing better suited to connect and educate this generation of children than OLPC. This refrain was echoed by both the Pakistani and Afghanistan Ambassadors.

Senator McCain speaking about OLPC

Senator McCain speaking about OLPC

This year, we are  expanding our vision by asking Congress to make a concerted push into Afghanistan and the tribal areas of western Pakistan, where isolation and a lack of government reach have spawned some brutal violent extremism.

The OLPC proposal: fight a “soft war” in these areas by giving children access to real education and to the world’s body of knowledge, and by connecting these remote areas to the rest of the planet via computer and satellite.  One child. One laptop. One world.

14 thoughts on “OLPC in the Senate: feedback from today’s event

  1. trebenaid, the OLPC does not need electrical sockets or roads or power lines or any of that other junk. It runs on solar or muscle. Wake up sir.

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  3. For those somewhat unfamiliar with OLPC it should be pointed out that they are designed specifically to not require western style infrastructure including electrical power. They can can be recharged using a variety of manual processes.

    There is no doubt that there are many areas where development aid is required in Afghanistan. But if you really want to change the way that the people there think about the west and about the Taliban then they do need access to information – all kinds of information from all kinds of different sources and on a daily basis. At the moment they get Taliban sermons and Taliban threats.

    So I think OLPC would be a major positive force in Afghanistan. My only concern would be that the Taliban would destroy the units as fast as they appeared. We would somehow have to provide enough security for the children of Afghanistan to enjoy the benefits that would come with OLPC.

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  5. I have to agree with Joe Average. OLPC sounds courageous and motivated and even compelling until you think about the fact that even our closest neighbors (Mexico) do not necessarily boast of electricity for ALL the masses. I imagine some pretty door stops in rural Afghanistan, and not much more. And REALLY, in a country that HATES all things Western, do you really think that the parents are going to allow the CHILDREN to use these “gifts” from the Western World.
    Yes, it sounds like a noble mission. I just don’t see it “catching on” in these desolate and restrictive places.

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  8. Maybe you could start by bringing “real education” in the few areas of Afghanistan that are actually controlled by the NATO troops. I think it would be far easier than hoping to reach children in the rest of the country: I don’t think that parachuting OLPCs in hostile villages will help that much. Expecially considering that they may lack electric sockets.

    Oh, in order to foster computer education in Afghanistan it may also help to build some roads, health care system, power grids, aqueducts, factories, industrial farms… You know, all the stuff the western world needed before computers.

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