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OLPC to Drop Tablets from Sky in Developing Countries

By - Source: PCMag | B 41 comments

OLPC wants to make it rain tablets.

The One Laptop Per Child Foundation has been around for years, providing children in the developing world with cheap and cheerful laptops for educational purposes. The company recently graduated from small, low-cost laptops, to small, low-cost tablets and this week at the Open Mobile summit, OLPC announced plans to try something a little different with regard to deploying these tablets.

PCMag reports that while speaking at the Open Mobile summit, OLPC founder and chairman Nicholas Negroponte revealed that the company was planning to airdrop shipments of the XO tablet into remote villages and return 12 months later to see how things panned out. The idea behind this approach is a 'hands-off' method of education; give the children the tablets and then leave them to figure out the devices and teach themselves to read.

"We will literally take tablets and drop them out of helicopters," he said, adding that "literally" no adults or staff will accompany the electronics. "When I say I drop out of the helicopters, I mean it... it's like a Coke bottle falling out of the sky," PCMag quotes him as saying, the Coke bottle falling from the sky being a reference to the '80s movie 'The Gods Must Be Crazy.'

Of course, while there are positives to leaving the children and tablets to their own devices, there is a risk that the tablets will be stolen before the kids even know they were dropped. However, it seems Negroponte is not worried about such a scenario:

"Adults may be able to steal it, but they won't be able to use it ... maybe an older brother will get a hold of it, use it for pornography - that's life," Negroponte said.

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    bruhthakuga , November 6, 2011 1:23 AM
    Dumb Ass Idea, they will only end up in the hands of rebels who will sell them back to people in developing countries.
  • 15 Hide
    dontknownotsure , November 6, 2011 1:59 AM
    pwnorbpwndSounds like a science experiment to me..

    *psychological experiment
  • 12 Hide
    dontknownotsure , November 6, 2011 1:36 AM
    in that case, bombard and napalm the area prior to airdrop lol
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    bruhthakuga , November 6, 2011 1:23 AM
    Dumb Ass Idea, they will only end up in the hands of rebels who will sell them back to people in developing countries.
  • 12 Hide
    dontknownotsure , November 6, 2011 1:36 AM
    in that case, bombard and napalm the area prior to airdrop lol
  • 4 Hide
    pwnorbpwnd , November 6, 2011 1:54 AM
    Sounds like a science experiment to me..
  • 15 Hide
    dontknownotsure , November 6, 2011 1:59 AM
    pwnorbpwndSounds like a science experiment to me..

    *psychological experiment
  • 6 Hide
    drapacioli , November 6, 2011 2:07 AM
    What, they can't spend a few more resources physically handing the tablets to the children to ensure they are in the right hands? That's just laziness and cheap strategy on their part.
  • 1 Hide
    pwnorbpwnd , November 6, 2011 2:14 AM
    drapacioliWhat, they can't spend a few more resources physically handing the tablets to the children to ensure they are in the right hands? That's just laziness and cheap strategy on their part.


    You see what they are doing if you just drop something people know nothing about into their hands and seeing if they can use it.
  • 2 Hide
    aevm , November 6, 2011 2:50 AM
    drapacioliWhat, they can't spend a few more resources physically handing the tablets to the children to ensure they are in the right hands? That's just laziness and cheap strategy on their part.


    If these things can surf for porn, and they are physically handled carefully only to children, some children may get hurt the next day when adults steal them. Better to just dump them in the desert.
  • 4 Hide
    xerroz , November 6, 2011 2:53 AM
    dontknownotsure*psychological experiment

    *PR stunt
  • 1 Hide
    aevm , November 6, 2011 2:55 AM
    ""Adults may be able to steal it, but they won't be able to use it ... maybe an older brother will get a hold of it, use it for pornography - that's life," Negroponte said. "

    How does this work if you're an adult and somebody's older brother at the same time? Can you use the tablet for pornography or can't you?
  • 4 Hide
    archibael , November 6, 2011 2:57 AM
    Tablets without wireless to hook into? Or are they just expecting the wireless will "just work" without any help. OLPC was a decent idea, but this... this is just nuts!
  • 1 Hide
    de5_Roy , November 6, 2011 3:28 AM
    this idea sounds stupid and dangerous. too crazy to not to be a pr stunt.
    may be the tablet cost went up.
    or may be they realized that the tablet can't play crysis and they don't want to be near the gamer villagers (or village gamers..?) when they realize this.
  • 1 Hide
    alyoshka , November 6, 2011 3:33 AM
    Well, it may sound like news to all of us since they plan to drop it from the sky but the main issue was and is that the OLPC was and is a piece of really old tech which had been rejected with it's proposal by a few developing countries since they already had better stuff at cheaper rates than the OLPC.
    The idea of the e Education to the remote areas was good. But the implementation of such networks is years behind their time. The OLPC was subsidized but the Carriers aren't going to subsidize data packages or they will have to cut costs for the urban people too.
    For all you know the OLPC planes might just get shot out of the air for Violating airspace in some countries.
  • 2 Hide
    zankuto , November 6, 2011 3:35 AM
    These are human beings not lab monkeys. Treat them with respect, actually go in person to deliver the devices so they done wind up in the hands of rebels who will use the technology to research weapons and tactics and co-ordinate attacks.
  • 1 Hide
    lpedraja2002 , November 6, 2011 3:51 AM
    Hmm, if they want to educate them why not give them books translated in their own language? I bet it's much cheaper and some people will actually thrive intellectually instead of just looking at porn, which I have no doubt it will happen.

    Also, what developing countries are they speaking of? How many developing countries have that much access to wifi and internet? Will these tablets come preloaded with content like e-books or porn?
  • 1 Hide
    sincreator , November 6, 2011 4:13 AM
    Probally be next years new reality series. I can see it now, with little hidden cameras recording them tring to figure it all out. Edit it properly and it could look like a great thing. On the other hand it could like a total disaster. lol. Sounds like a hit to me. :p 
  • 1 Hide
    jhansonxi , November 6, 2011 4:32 AM
    One of the theories of the project is that the childish styling and large quantities would depress the appeal/value among adults and limit theft and reselling (a questionable idea). Internet service is from a satellite uplink and a mesh network (the older design with the flip-up ears had over a mile range). As far as the porn problem - they're expecting that competent adults will supervise the kids using them (filtering opponents in the USA want parents to do that now instead of relying on software/government/ISPs to do it.)

    As for the Coke bottle movie reference - I didn't see the movie but from what I've heard the bottle caused a lot of problems. Not a promising prediction.
  • -2 Hide
    FloKid , November 6, 2011 4:44 AM
    Developing laptops for developing countries, sounds like a joke from God.
  • 3 Hide
    iceman1992 , November 6, 2011 4:46 AM
    They might use it as a dinner tray if they don't know what it is
  • 1 Hide
    back_by_demand , November 6, 2011 6:54 AM
    Who is paying for this vast waste of money?
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