Re: The simputer project

Date: Sun Apr 29 2001 - 10:00:04 MDT

In a message dated 4/12/01 8:57:18 AM Central Daylight Time,

> Simputer: Simple, Inexpensive, Multilingual, Computer.
> This is a reference to something we've discuseed here before, a
> group trying to build an Internet capable computer for the third
> world for about $200.

YES! This is GREAT! This is exactly the kind of effort I've envisioned in
my posts about the idea I call the "brain seed". Obviously $200 is WAY too
expensive for truly global saturation, but these folks are at least 1) making
a start and 2) doing it with the explicit goal of developing a terminal for
dissemination throughout the developing world. Presumably if this group is
successful in a first iteration of their project, capabilities can rise with
subsequent generations, while costs will continue to fall.

A number of issues can begin to be tackled with the development of a machine
like this. First and foremost is development of content for the machine. I
take it that the use of "smart cards" envisions that cards containing
information about specific needs for individuals and communities in the Third
World will be developed and disseminated along with and following after the
spread of the simputers themselves. Cards containing basic literacy
training, primary education in math, science and history, basic hygiene
information, training about good farming practices and the like will have to
be developed. Just as important as getting the simputers built and
distributed is the development of material like this and spreading it as far
and wide as possible. This is especially true, since people interested in
liberating the human potential of the Third World need to get a head start on
folks who will want to develop media containing nationalist, tribalist and
religious propaganda.

A hardware challenge lies ahead, which is of course that the huge majority of
these machines will not be connected to any network. Developing some kind of
super-low-cost solution to the ultimate "last mile problem" - the one
reaching to the world's ten million undeveloped villages - is the eventual
challenge. But this is definitely a start in the right direction.

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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