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April 28, 2009

Laptops for India; postponing Obama's tech agenda

Posted: 12:48 PM ET

Here are a few stories is watching today:

INDIA: By now, you've probably heard of the One Laptop Per Child project (background from CNN), which seeks to lift poverty and spread peace by giving kids in developing countries inexpensive laptops. Ars Technica, the tech blog, writes about an interesting development in that effort: India has decided to jump on board after it opposed the program. The country also has stopped trying to create a $10 laptop after that turned out not to be possible, the site reports:

OLPC launched a pilot program in India in 2007 with 20 XO laptops at a school in Khairat-Dhangarwada village in the state of Maharashtra. Although the pilot program was successful, the country's Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was highly skeptical about OLPC, and expressed concerns about the health implications of prolonged laptop use among students.

The MHRD later reversed its views about the health implications of youth computing and launched its own dubious program to build a competing $10 laptop. Unsurprisingly, the $10 laptop never materialized. When the country finally unveiled its highly ambiguous plans for its $10 "Sakshat" computing initiative earlier this year, it was revealed that the device would not be a laptop and would cost significantly more than $10 to produce.

OBAMA: President Obama wants us to be creative, NYTimes staffer Andrew Revkin writes on his blog DotEarth. The president made the remark in front of a group of scientists, saying also that the scientific community needs to get out in the public. The remarks seem to go right along with Obama's apparent philosophy that innovation will help the U.S. address many of its problems. More from the post:

In the address, he called for scientists to move out of the laboratory into society, essentially becoming emissaries in what he said must be a national movement to inspire and enable young people “to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.”

CREATIVITY: has a blog post saying the economic recession has put Obama's technology agenda on hold. Here are some of the projects and appointments that have been delayed, according to the post:

Some of the most important pieces of the president's technology policy are only beginning to unfold. Less than two weeks ago, Obama appointed Virginia's secretary of technology, Aneesh Chopra, to be his chief technology officer. Chopra is responsible for formulating an open government directive within the next 20 days and will work closely with Obama's chief information officer, Vivek Kundra.

Obama's pick to chair the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, has yet to be confirmed, but he is expected to push for more Net neutrality regulation.

All three appointments, Scott said, "reflect a strong commitment to a new kind of technology policy, (and) a commitment to making technology work for the government."

What's on your mind today? Any technology or science stories catching your attention? Feel free to weigh in with a comment.

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Robert   April 28th, 2009 1:11 pm ET

... how about we make sure that all the underprivileged kids in our own countries have laptops before we try to plug in the rest of the world?

Terry   April 28th, 2009 2:01 pm ET

I'm an educated (at the moment) employed Democratic Obama supporter and I support the overall logic and compassion of helping less developed nations - however, I'm feeling Nationalistic on this one.
I can't afford to buy a computer for my OWN kids (and God knows we need to get the next generation tech savvy and educated for the US to compete.)
WHERE is the outcry to get every US CHILD a computer, or a hot meal, or health care, or a house to live in??? Until we resolve the homeless, hungry, and health issues for our nation's children - and give them ALL A COMPUTER.......... forget about subsidizing children in INDIA, etc.
Maybe their parents' who are taking my outsourced job can already afford to buy them one at the lowest price not offered to me.

tam   April 28th, 2009 2:43 pm ET

Laptops for India's kids? Oh, great- next thing you know, these kids will be graduating from college and coming to the US to take our jobs.

sk   April 29th, 2009 11:22 am ET

blame the education system which overprices books, software, and college tuition – keeping the masses uneducated- for the jobs that indians are 'taking'. blame the pride there is in ignorance, and how any intelligence in school is frowned upon, jeered at, and ridiculed as being 'geeky', 'nerdy' etc. americans have way more resources than they realize, and its easy to get online and complain about not having any...just think for a second – high school education is pretty much free here, and if you do a semi decent job in high school, there are plenty of scholarships to be earned for college. Of course, all of this means having to change our mindset towards knowledge and its acquisition.
the bare minimum here is still a phenomenal amount.

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