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Science Show -

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Robyn Williams: This week, one man, one message. And it's a big one, the man and the message.
Nicholas Negroponte was without doubt the star of the American Association for the Advancement os
Science meeting in Boston last month. Professor Negroponte was the founder of the famed Media Lab
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he wrote the seminal book, Being Digital in 1995,
outlining the communications revolution we've been swept up in during this century. But today's
theme is more subtle than gadgets and getting wired. It's about the big idea Kevin Rudd launched
during the election late last year: One laptop per child. So what's the point of handing out
laptops? Can we afford them? So for today's Science Show we join Nicholas Negroponte in Boston for
the long story and some answers.

Nicholas Negroponte: Thankyou. I am going to use the time I have with you to take you through what
has been perhaps for me the most fascinating two years of my life but also the origins of one
laptop per child which is not something that just happened one day. Perhaps the most common
question I get is when did this occur, or when did it happen like an apple dropping on your head.
And in fact this is the lifetime work of several people and if you look at things that have
happened since the late '60s they kind of converge on the idea. So I'm going to take you through
that whole trip and even try and explain where I think it's headed. It's so unpredictable that
we'll see in a few months whether I was right at least in the direction that it will take shortly.

I am one of these people who went to MIT as a student and never left. It was just not possible to
leave it was such a good place to be, and work and between the people and the ideas, the
international nature of the place I got hooked pretty quickly. But one thing you learned at MIT
very fast is that as an institution it's really a global institution that happens to be located in
Massachusetts and now when I travel and I do things for the laptop I realise how critical that is
because you can go to any country and the alumni group are not just distinguished but are usually
running the country and are usually very much involved in the government and certainly the private
sector. And so that for me was an attraction I couldn't pass at all.

And during the late '60s I was captured by some of the ideas of a man named Seymour Papert and
somebody that led MIT named Jerry Wiesner that had to do with how children learn and one of the
differences today versus let's say 30 years ago is that we can actually think about thinking. In
the early days of computers when Seymour Papert in particular invented a language for children to
write programs it was an occasion where you could actually get the child to do something that was,
in fact, an approximation of thinking about thinking, or learning about learning. And writing a
computer program let's say to draw a circle is in fact a very different way to understand
circleness than the way most of us did which was learn about a radius and a diameter and a
circumference and so on which was relatively abstract. But when you walk around in a circle, or you
write a program to draw a circle your understanding circleness quite differently.

But more important than that, when you write a computer program the likelihood of it being correct
the first time is almost zero and what's most important is that when it does something wrong it
actually does something versus nothing and you can look at what it did which is let's say draw some
lines in funny ways on the screen and then you can go in and debug the program. And debugging which
is a relatively common term is in fact very interesting because you're not just debugging the
program, you learn about debugging and we found in the 1970s that kids that were writing programs
in a language that was called Logo would in fact behave differently in school. And when they had,
let's say a spelling bee and they got 8 out of 10 words correct, I happened to be a very bad
speller, I was a terrible speller at school and if I got a B in spelling that was absolutely
fantastic, I would have loved it and I certainly had no interest whatsoever in the two words I got
wrong because I got a B and B is pretty good and the two words - well, what the hell, they were too
hard or something and I ignored them.

The debuggers on the other hand we found a great deal of evidence that they were actually
fascinated by the two they got wrong and why did they get them wrong, and what is this, the i
before e except after c whatever. Suddenly the writing of computer programs wasn't just that you
learnt how to program or to make images on a screen, but it was again a first step towards
learning, learning itself. Now that sounds very abstract, it is relatively abstract but in 1982
which feels like an awfully long time ago Seymour Papert and I were invited to start using
computers in developing countries, in this case Senegal, Pakistan and Columbia at a time that
actually it didn't predate the internet because we were using it certainly at the university, but
it was not available outside. And actually when we started that project it predated the idea IBM
PC, the IBM PC hadn't even came out in Europe for sure, and it had just started to come out in this
country.

So Steve Jobs gave us some Apple computers and suddenly kids outside of Dakar, Senegal had more
computing than the central government. And it was go, and the school as you can see was relatively
well off, this is not the poorest school in town by any means but what we did learn very quickly is
that these kids didn't speak French, they didn't speak English, they spoke Wolof were playing those
keyboards like pianos in no time at all. There was no noticeable difference between their behaviour
and kids let's say in the suburbs of Boston, or New York, or San Francisco, who at the time, had
access to some of this same equipment. Now that may be a simple observation and these particular
projects didn't have traction that kept them going but it certainly was a first step in something
that was way ahead of its time but it certainly inspired me and Media Lab was created actually a
couple of years later, the beginning of the Media Lab did not happen until after that particular
project.

And so we were all busy creating the Media Lab and doing things and sort of flash forward 20 years
and it was really this particular school and experience that got me going and that was totally by
chance as these things often happen. The person who represented Media Lab in Asia happened to be a
friend of King Sihanouk and King Sihanouk had invited him to start a newspaper in Cambodia and
based in Phnom Penh and then invited him to do other things and he was at a stage in his life where
he was trying to do things good for the world and started a program to build schools and I
volunteered to be the first person to pay for a school and it was being philanthropic and I said to
him, go ahead and if you can leverage the fact that I have given the first school, go ahead maybe
you can build others.

That was it, that was the end of it, it was like giving to the United Way or giving to any charity
and about six months later my son was living in Italy at the time, was having girlfriend problems
and had started a company that wasn't quite successful and I said look, if you can suffer the
indignity of working for your father why don't you go to Cambodia and connect these schools to the
internet and I'll send you some laptops you know to get you started and it'll be sort of good for
you to get out, change your environment etc. So he goes off to Cambodia and does an extraordinary
job, this is a village that has no electricity, has no telephone, no nothing in it, in fact several
schools were subsequently built and in some of the villages they don't even have a road that goes
there, that's how disconnected and primitive the villages are.

Suddenly when this got going and it started off with a few hundred laptops the first English word
of every kid in that picture is Google, it's literally their first word. They brought the laptops
home at night and the first night they brought the laptops home, in fact parents wouldn't let them
open them up. Average income in this village at the time was $47 per year, not per month but per
year. And the parents said you know you shouldn't open it, you might break it, it looks expensive
so the second night they were given little notes saying you're not responsible, it doesn't matter
or whatever. And of course none of the parents can read but the notes, you know the kids persuaded
the parents that this was a note and they opened it up and universally they were loved. They were
loved because it was the brightest light source in the house literally and the kids were connected
there was Wi-Fi in the village reaching at least most of the houses and it just completely changed
the landscape of that village.

I'll give you one specific example because people always ask me how do you measure success, well
I'll give you one measure of success, it certainly touched me. The second year that this school was
in motion, 100% more kids showed up for school, for first grade than the previous year and so we
said well they must be coming from the neighbouring village. Not at all! They were coming from that
village and what had happened was that the 6-year-olds in the first year of the program were
telling the other 6-year-olds in town how cool school was. School is cool. Well parents were then
persuaded this is the kids that weren't going to school to go and look in the window and see what
was going on and one thing led to the next and to my knowledge, every kid in this photograph to my
knowledge has gone on all year subsequently to school.

Now the reason I find that so important is that many of us think that kids in developing countries
drop out of school because they are in fact needed in the fields, or needed to earn an income, or
the young girls are needed to take care of the younger children. Well some of that is true but
mostly it's not. Mostly kids drop out of school because school is boring, or school isn't relevant
and there is a real phenomenon and I get into trouble when I say this and I'll admit I get into
trouble because people think I'm anti-school or anti-teacher, but really what happens, particularly
in developing countries that are very much more disciplinarian than we are and in remote parts of
the developing countries where it's even yet more so you have a situation where the kids arrive in
first grade with their eyes wide open and it's like sponges and then by the fourth grade their
heads are down and it hasn't been a particularly joyous experience for most kids - not all, but
most kids. And then piled onto that you have not just the absence of schools and teachers but even
where you do have schools and teachers the teachers who are in the rural parts of countries don't
really like being there and they'll get out as fast as possible.

So in general being rural means to be even poorer than you would be otherwise and that's a whole
separate subject unto itself but it's a very important one, at least to me. So when I saw this
happening and I would visit, as frequently as possible, I looked at that picture and I said to
myself if you wanted to do this on a large scale, if you wanted literally 50% of all children in
the world to have this kind of access and you really want to reach the poorest and most remote 50%
what part of that doesn't scale, what part of it needs intervention that the normal market, normal
development of products and services would provide. And when you look at the various elements - let
me take telecommunications. Telecommunications is by no means autopilot but there's so many things
happening whether it's Wi-Fi, Y-Max, 3G, satellites, also there's just a lot of things, regulatory
regimes have changed, the privatisation has lowered the cost, cell phone penetration is sky
rocketing and we could just look at a lot of things that say well over the next 4 or 5 years that
is going to continue along in that direction, prices are going to continue to drop, alternatives
are going to continue to rise in terms of options and for connectivity. Yes we can make it happen
faster, we can make it happen better whatever that means, more data-friendly, more quicker etc.
There are things that we could do to change it but that's OK.

But when you really believe as I do in the concept of one laptop per child and you look at the
laptop part of that picture it suddenly has a problem that comes not from ill-will but comes from a
feature in the general DNA of electronics and that features the following. If you make anything
electronic today you know that in 18 months from today it will cost you 50%. It will literally be
half the price that it is today, that's just the way the whole field is moving, the integration,
they are doing more in chips and so on and so forth. I can take literally any product and make it
for half the cost in 18 months. Now if that's true and I really believe it is, and most people do,
if you make these things whatever this is whether it's a cell phone, or a laptop, or whatever, you
have no interest in that being half price in 18 months from now so what do you do - you add
features and you hopefully add features that people want such that in 18 months time you can at
least sell it for the same price. And this happens and you all know it and you will both benefit
from it and suffer from it. And the part that you suffer from in that equation is a general obesity
that occurs in the electronics industry so that every laptop today is basically an SUV where you're
using most of the energy to move the car and not the person. And that's happening with laptops,
cell phones, I mean your cell phones, if you have smart phones they take forever to start up now,
you can't turn off your laptop without fighting, OK it's a battle and then to turn it on takes
forever. And these things aren't because somebody is being nasty but because it's just gotten obese
because of that phenomenon of dropping in cost and adding the features.

So if you could intervene and say let's break that spell and let's try and look at it differently
for two reasons. One is that it's for children, it's for children learning and if we have the
opportunity let's design that from the bottom up versus taking a laptop that was done for Word
Excel and Powerpoint and costing it down. And secondly let's do it with a target is not to add
features but to lower the cost, to literally say if this is going to be half the price in a year
and a half from now, let it be half the price, let's not add more features. And then if it's going
to be half that price again in a year and a half from now let it be half the price and let's force
it down and down. Again as a commercial entity you have no interest in doing that so we said to
ourselves so let's create a non-profit that does it and so this is the picture of the same kids,
actually not the same kids, the same school and we created a non-profit to try and do exactly what
I just said. Then the biggest decision in retrospect that we made was to do it as a non-profit and
everybody advised me the opposite. The said Nicholas make a profit-making company make lots of
money with low-cost laptops and then take the money you make to give to developing countries to do
what you want.

And I always told my son you know it's possible for everybody to be wrong and I took my own advice
on that occasion and said you're all wrong and we've just got to do it as a non-profit. The said
well it's not sustainable, you're not going to be able to track people because the best people want
shares and options in the company etc. etc. Well it turned out that those were really completely
wrong and that being a non-profit was absolutely critical if for no other reason that the clarity
of purpose is always there. So if I visit somebody a head-of-state will see me not because I'm me
or MIT or whatever but because you're not selling laptops you are actually interested in education
and it's clearly a humanitarian effort not a commercial one.

So we set up the laptop organisation and I just want to say a couple of words, it's been around now
a little over two years and the two-year run has been pretty extraordinary. I found contrary to
what people have told me - you'll never get good people to come - we put out a job description for
a CFO and I'm on the board of directors at Motorola and we pay our CFO a publicly known number
which is seven digits and I said well however am I going to get a CFO, a really good CFO for one
laptop per child because we pay MIT salaries and worse actually, so I said how are we going to get
a good CFO. So we put the job description on the street at zero salary and I can't tell you how
long a queue we had of people for that job who were the most extraordinary CFOs I'd seen! They
weren't just people who had retired at the age of 65 or 70, we had some very young people who had
had success in one form or another, and were literally in their 40s and their early 40s whose
families encouraged them to do this and we just had extraordinary candidates.

So being a non-profit was an absolutely critical decision and when I talk about scale many people
think when I talk about scale I'm just interested in the fact that large numbers will get you lower
prices because just the economies of scale. If you buy a few million of one component versus a few
thousand you clearly get a better price, that's true but that's not of real importance. The real
importance was - I'll illustrate it by example: In the early days of this a little over a year and
a half ago I was looking for manufacturers who could help us make a very low-cost display because
it turns out that 50% of the cost of your laptop is the display, that's in the manufacturing cost,
it can be as high as 60%. So you really want to focus on that and get a very high quality display
but at a very low cost. So I went to some of the manufacturers and again being connected with MIT
and the Media Lab I knew them and I went to the CEO of one of the biggest ones and said I need a
small display, not too big, since it's small and it needs to be bright but it doesn't have to have
perfect colour uniformity and the most important thing is it has to be very inexpensive.

And this gentleman said to me, Nicholas, our whole corporate strategy, those two words will come up
all the time, our corporate strategy is to make big displays, perfect colour, extreme brightness
for the living room and as high a price as possible so our corporate strategy and your requirements
are just incompatible so we can't help you. And I said well that's a shame because I need about 50
million units per year and he said well let's see! And so what happened was that the number 10 to
50 million was so enticing that they not only took it on but the company (actually it wasn't
listed), but the company that is now making the display literally spent $1billion building the fab
for the display. Now that's a lot of commitment, admittedly they can use the same fab for other
things if they need to so it's not completely hung on this display but the point being that the
numbers change corporate strategy. So yes, the economies of scale are important but changing
corporate strategy was even more important and absolutely critical because we're not going to make
every laptop on the planet, in fact we may not even end up making that many of them two years from
now but it's important to get it to change.

So by being a non-profit we could team up with the UN and other organisations and Kofi Annan and I
launched this a little over two years ago in Tunis and this is the machine we show. Now we had
this, a model of this machine with a working display in it but lots of wires coming out the bottom
so underneath the table there was a lot of computer power and this was just the physical model and
people knew that. We weren't trying to do a magic trick but the image, that particular image - I
look at it now and almost with a little embarrassment but it was a very powerful image because
everybody who saw that two years ago remembered the one thing about that image. And what they
remembered was the pencil-yellow crank, the remember the crank, in retrospect folks it's a really
stupid place to put the crank, for that crank to work you had to close the laptop, put your had on
the edge of the table and crank it and in fact while Kofi Annan was doing that at the press
conference the handle came off in his hand. But it turns out that when you put it on the table and
you crank you spend more energy with your hand holding it than the other hand cranking it but when
people saw the picture it was very important because they understood that it's not just a toy-like,
child-like but that it could perhaps, the image at least suggests this, run without being plugged
into the wall. And you bet it can, it's a very important feature 50% of the kids in this world have
no electricity at home or at school and so you can't give them AC adaptors to plug into their wall,
there is in some cases no wall to plug into let alone a plug.

And so you have to do something that allows you to generate power by hand. So the four things that
we did was to basically challenge the industry and also to use the science and the technology that
was available to us by being connected to MIT by being a spin out of the MIT Media Lab and one of
them was to lower the power. Your laptop uses between 35 and 40 watts that's what your laptop uses
and we had to get it down to below 2 and the reason you want to get it to a number like that is
because the upper body can only generate so much by pulling strings or cranking using one arm or
two arms, using these muscles, you know the egg beater is the worst because you're just using your
wrist, a salad drier is a little bit better because you're using this part and pulling things like
that is even better cause you're using other muscles. But all of us in the room can generate maybe
20 watts, not for very long by the way, you can do it for a few minutes, but a malnourished child
can generate about 10 watts and so you really have to look at power consumption very, very
differently.

Secondly you have to look at the display differently because the display has to work both indoors
and outdoors, in sunlight and in darkness and this is not true of your laptop. Anybody who has used
a laptop outdoors knows how frustrating it is, it's impossible come on, it's so frustrating it's
not even possible, you're out in the sunlight, it's totally impossible and if it's bright when
you're in a car or some places, it's very, very hard. So you just don't do it but if you wanted
kids to be using this as an electronic book and for other reasons you really do have to work in the
sunlight.

The third thing is that you're going into places that have no connectivity, no network, no cell
phone in many places, that's becoming less and less true but even if you do have cell phone
connectivity the economics of cell phones are not yet very friendly to the kind of data
applications and per-child numbers. We want to connect and we actually pledged to connect kids for
10 cents per month, per child unlimited data connectivity, that's very different than your cell
phone bill and it's very different from the way they do billing in developing countries in
particular. So we needed the laptops themselves to connect to each other so that if you dropped a
satellite dish into a village it could connect literally hundreds, if not thousands of kids and
that's the so-called mesh network and then rugged goes without saying when we doing work in Dakar
in 1981-82 our biggest enemy was dust and you just look at the side of your laptop and all the
holes can get filled pretty quickly with dust.

I'm just going to take you through what we did and maybe a personal vocation of mine but I think
the design matters a great deal because there are really two ways you can make an inexpensive
laptop, this is true for inexpensive anything that this could apply to. One way is to take cheap
labour, cheap components, cheap design and make a cheap laptop. It turns out that the word cheap in
English has a double meaning, meaning both inexpensive and the pejorative meaning as well. And the
second way to make an inexpensive laptop is to take very large scale integration, the highest
technologies you can imagine, very large numbers, very advanced sort of production where you sort
of pour chemicals in one end and out spew iPods and then pretty cool design because at that point
you're making such large numbers the cost per laptop is not only insignificant but very often can
actually lower the cost.

So we took the latter route and built this thing which has been around for about a year in testing
and about half a million now are through the pipeline is the exact number as of today 400 and
some-odd thousand. One thing we are very firm about is that it has to be an electronic book and a
games machine as well as a laptop and here it is in games mode and it can be used as an electronic
book and then in turns into a laptop. And everybody smiles when the ears come up and what these
ears do they're the antenna that allow you to connect all the laptops. I've used these, I travel
with one, I use it in meetings, it's a little bit of a hazard because people recognise it now when
I go through the security checks at airports, most of the people and the X-ray machine recognises
it and say it's the $100 laptop and it's the little ears - people smile because it turns out it's
not just cute, it turns out that the antennae work very, very well. And I've been in meetings where
none of my colleagues can get a signal but I can get a signal and again it's not that our antennae
are better it's they're steerable and it turns into needless to say a proper laptop. Here it's
being used in both modes in this case it's Thailand. This audience particularly would be interested
in that they're not just laptops but they can be turned into oscilloscopes, they actually have the
analog inputs and sensors and here kids are measuring, I'm not sure what, one kid's taking a
picture another one is measuring something else. They are actually a scientific apparatus as well
as laptops.

Now this picture doesn't interest too many people other than me but after starting this was
literally the first laptop going down the assembly line with real people making the real laptop and
it was big deal for us because here we had it in full bluster and announced we were going to build
a laptop and then two years later here's the picture. I mean this is probably violating some rule
of the factory here by showing you the factory floor but those are the real laptops being produced
at 110,000/month at the moment which isn't a huge number but you should know that the world
production today of laptops is 5 million per month but it's not a huge number but it's in the
scheme of things relatively significant.

I'm going to just show some other things that surround the project and then tell you about where we
stand and in the countries and the roll out. This is just one mechanism to generate power. I
mentioned before the egg beater versus the salad drier and this is something that uses both arms
and can generate a great deal of power and was just one solution. Now these are ancillary projects
and companies are growing up around it, this is the mesh network connected with the satellites. You
have to drop a satellite into the remote village to connect back to the internet so that the kids
get broadband amongst themselves and a narrow band back. So if they want to sent email with an
attachment to a kid let's say from Nigeria to Brazil the email will go like a text message and the
attachment might come an hour later. You have a different kind of latency and asynchronous
communications that you and I would be accustomed to but trust me, any bits per second is a lot
better than none and we sometimes are connecting a whole village of let's say 500 kids with simply
half a megabit which sounds very parsimonious but shared asynchronously with a server that can do
caching at night for downloading video and so on - it really is pretty good.

Obviously you want to do a lot better over time. The mesh network I should mention the hops
depending on what's in between, the terrain, the humidity, what kind of buildings, let's say they
average about half a kilometre and if you have you know 10 kids in a row and you can hop from one
laptop to another that's 5 kilometres you could reach. If a child bicycles home and the child still
wants to be connected you have these things that you nail to trees and repeat the signal and
they're solar powered little boosters. We try to get them down to $10, they are close to it now but
it allows the kid to connect who's far from school. The way you build this is not by calling
Horizon or Sprint you actually send out little packages and people build their own antennae and
this is that original school but it's connecting another school that is 5 miles away. And it turns
out that the kids themselves are really very, very good at building these things. They get the
teachers involved - when you don't have any connectivity you are willing to work pretty hard to
create it. And by the way this also applies to the maintenance of the laptops, many people ask us
how do laptops get maintained and the answer is that 95% of the maintenance is done by the
children. In fact in Nigeria we tested the concept of laptop hospitals that are run by the kids and
it's extraordinary - a 14-year-old can do an extraordinary amount of maintenance especially if you
design the laptop with that maintenance in mind.

Actually I should back up and say something about that because I used just the display as an
example, if the light in your display burns out in your laptop you've got to replace the display
which as I said before is about half the cost of the laptop. Well really what you want to be able
to do and you can certainly do it on this laptop is open up the display, pull out in this case a
little bar that has a few LEDs on it, it costs less that $1 actually, and then plug this new piece
back in like changing a light bulb and then screwing it back together again. And that in fact is
what you can do. People in the industry don't like that because they really want you to buy a new
display so you're actually swimming up stream but again scale allows you to do that because you
have a certain amount of clout to get people to do it, in this case to make it maintenance
friendly.

The interface for this software is in fact very different and it allows, in this case, the kids to
do a lot more collaboration than normal and again the most common question I get is will it run
Windows, the answer is yes, Microsoft has announced that it will run Windows, they have people
working on it, we work with them getting them to do that but here the interface is one that has
been designed with learning and collaboration and sharing and the mesh network very much in mind.
And also very much in mind is the local languages, I almost want to give a prize out to anybody who
recognises our keyboard. Lots of languages that we're launching in and there are 18 there are new
to many people but the one in the keyboard is Amharic which is the language spoken in Ethiopia
which didn't have a keyboard. There was no standard keyboard because there's no real commercial
interest in making a keyboard and so to build Amharic keyboards is again very much part of doing
what a non-profit should be doing that wasn't being done before.

Again it's these snapshots change so fast every day, just today things changed and tomorrow they
are going to change again and the interest and momentum in different parts of the world is quite
extraordinary. But the way we started was to say ok, how can we launch 5 million laptops? Now you
heard me say that 500,000 have already gone out and the question was how could we launch 5 million?
And the quick answer to that was to get five big rich countries to buy a million each and then if
that were to happen then you get the momentum going and you get the other countries to benefit from
the scale of these initial partners. And so I spent the first year-and-a-half of the existence of
one laptop per child with six countries, not five, but there was a 6th added to the equation and
they were Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand and Libya which isn't large but relatively
rich and basically got the heads of state in each of those countries to agree. Now what does agree
mean? Now agree means a photo opportunity with his arm around my shoulder and a press release that
they'd buy a million if we could build it. So we didn't have it, so you can't ask somebody for a
purchase order for something you don't have but their interest and at least commitment verbally was
enough to keep the people in Taiwan and Shanghai sufficiently moving to make it all happen.

Well over this past summer those six countries which were the launch countries, and I use the word
former, in each case it was not going to happen quite as quickly so we went to different countries,
we went to smaller countries and the first country that had the boldness to just absolutely just do
it was Uruguay. Now Uruguay is not a huge country, it's not a huge country at all, it is quite rich
it's called the Switzerland of South America but it's still in the scheme of things not only
eligible but had the boldness to go ahead and do it for every child in the country over a short
period of time. They issued a tender, there was no question whatsoever, there was nobody could come
close to competing it, OLPC won the tender and then the next day, literally the next day Peru
ordered a quarter of a million laptops just on the force of Uruguay saying yes, then the president
of Peru decided to do it. And we looked at those instances and said well maybe we should not only
refocus from those six big countries but let's also see if there's a way to go to some of the
poorest countries. So the five first ones are ones that actually have machines today and relatively
large commitments and the four are the ones that have small, just a few hundred machines today that
will get thousands of them within the next 30 or 60 days. And that's a very different list of
countries and if I look, and I literally do every morning look at the various countries and their
status, there are now about 80 or 90 countries that are in the queue in one way or another.

In fact this is actually a very new slide which shows the current countries that are interested in
terms of two axis, immediacy and scale, and not all of them are necessarily placed right. You'll
see we think of New York City as a country and you'll even see if you look carefully Birmingham.
Now the reason Birmingham and that indeed is Birmingham as in Alabama is sitting in black down
there which means that it's launching as we speak is that the new mayor of Birmingham went to our
website and ordered 15,000 of them and that was pretty astonishing and look, we're going to launch
in the United States so Birmingham was as good as place as any. And then Buenos Aires appears as a
city there also, and the city of Buenos Aires is doing it for all of their children. So we look at
that and we said to ourselves is there a way to actually finance this above and beyond going to the
countries because you know it's a different conversation if you can do it and you're really going
to very poor countries and you're going to post-conflict situations you want to be able to do it
where the laptop effectively costs nothing.

So we started this give one-get one program which was a little daring because the laptop isn't
designed for the context of let's say a child or an adult having it in this country, it's designed
for low power, it's designed for other things that aren't quite as meaningful but that took off to
such a degree that in the first day of this, and Ebay is one of our partners, and so Pay Pal was
very involved, it was the largest number of hits Pay Pal had received ever; it was in order to pay
for these on the first day it was out. It was a huge blip for us and in fact it was just going to
be over a few days in this case it was going to be over two weeks and that was extended and about
170,000 laptops were generated. And so what it did was it changed the economics. The target has
always been $100, we get a certain amount of criticism that we're not $100 we're $187, we missed,
or something like that, people I don't know, they don't hear well but we've always said it's the
target and that we're going to start higher and then drive the price down to $100, we'll get there
before the end of 2009 but that's certainly where we're going.

We are subject to some funny fluctuations so we float the price, when you buy the laptop you don't
get a fixed cost you get a floating price and it's repriced like a commodity every 30 or 60 days
and if the cost of nickel goes up the cost of the laptop goes up and it's really the raw materials
actually have an impact. As I said today it's $187 it'll go down to $50 pretty quickly. But give
one-get one makes it zero, if we really do finance it that way and somebody pays for one and gives
one simultaneously then the person to whom it's being given whether it cost $100 or $187 is at this
point a different issue. And that allowed us most importantly to go to these countries who
otherwise would not have had any laptops and that's why we're in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Afghanistan,
Mongolia, Haiti, we're in those countries because of the give one-get one program. And then in each
case was able to leverage it further, in the case of Haiti it was announced the day before
yesterday it was announced that the Inter-American Development bank is matching everything we do so
there's a give one-get one program, it creates a laptop, that is then matched again by the bank and
so the leverage has slowly but it's a very important way of getting them out.

So Peru to us is very important for reasons again of fate, I said before when I described the
school in Cambodia how fate had played a hand. It turns out that a man visited me at MIT in 1991,
he was from Peru and he came to visit me and was interested in computers in education and I
introduced him to Seymour Papert who was a professor at the media lab a constructionist and
theorist behind almost everything we do and he fell in love, my Peruvian visitor, with Seymour's
theories, he sent four or five people to study in the United States for six months and to learn
about constructionism. I didn't know that had all happened and it turned out that this person
became the minister of education, he wasn't even in government I don't believe at the time he
visited, and so when he sent me an email a few months ago and said he was interested in laptops and
I started to put 2 and 2 together I realised Peru didn't need to be persuaded that you could
approach learning through a constructionist which is simply a fancy way perhaps of saying learning
by doing and getting the kids more actively engaged. And so they not only didn't have to be
persuaded of the theory they also had the plan of doing it first in the one room schools in very
remote parts of Peru that don't have power and don't have connectivity. We have our team there
right now of best people rolling it out in Peru not just as a response to the fact that they
understand constructionism and it's the largest commitment to one laptop per child, but because
that is an absolute prototype because if you can do it in those one rooms schools in those remote
locations you're really taking a huge challenge.

Nigeria has been participants since the very beginning, we have people there that are putting this
in place, it's been a challenge, the country is so big and Obasanjo who was the president is no
longer in office, you've got to make new friends all over again but it's been a very active site.
This is Uruguay and the classroom here is in pandemonium not because of the laptops but because the
president of Uruguay had arrived in the classroom at this moment to see the laptops and again
Uruguay has been an extraordinary place to be starting. Here it's in India. India's hard. India and
China are difficult countries, those two countries combined by the way represent almost 50% of the
world's children, it's about 40 something percent of the world's children are in those two
countries. So you can't ignore them because you're ignoring half the children. But they're both
very hard for slightly different reasons. China is hard because as the minister for education told
me the last time I had dinner with him, mind you this minister for education has 220 million
students in his system. 220million students in one school system basic and he said you know
Professor Negroponte your laptop is very child-centric and our education system is very
teacher-centric. And that's a hard one to get over and it's one that will slow us down in China.

India doesn't have quite that same issue but India has the issue of again being sufficiently big
that they've looked more at the export market than the internal market for all of their products,
software and otherwise but also there is a sense again of we know we can do it ourselves because we
are so big. And I'm sure that's true but this is one of the pilot schools in India and this is the
same school. What really changes is again the relationship of the teachers to the students;
absolutely changed. In Ethiopia we had a complaint, and the complaint was from the spouses of
teachers complaining that their spouse wasn't coming home enough. So good for the complaint, it has
that kind of transformative effect. I only show this picture not as kind of the classic picture of
two kids looking at a laptop there must be millions of these out there, this just happens to be in
Mongolia last week and interests me because we were installing in Mongolia and I believe it was 30
degrees below zero and there was some concern whether the laptops would still work when they came
in from the cold. This is the one I like; we always think the kids should take the laptops home,
these kids come to school on horses, and they bring their laptops on horses.

Again bringing the laptop home is very important because to build computer labs and you look at how
much time and so on that the psychology is totally, totally different. When I shipped the first
laptops to Cambodia over the first three years one broke, one - and that's really very important
because if you have a classroom in the United States or anywhere where there are laptops in the
back of the room, kids take them off a cart, they bring them to their desk, they use them for the
class period in science simulation or something, put the laptops back on the cart, again no ill
will but those laptops last about three months before they need repair because nobody owns them and
it's government property, or school property and it just doesn't get treated the same way. In
Cambodia those kids took the laptops home, the little boys had their sisters make little bags for
them, they slept beside the laptops, these were polished they were like a new bicycle, it was
really kept in a very different way. And there are lots of reasons also to take it home because it
affects the family, you share with your siblings, you have a child in a two-shift school system
which is a typical case in developing countries, the two-shift school system has a kid in a
classroom two and a half hours a day maximum and there's just a lot of other times and reasons why
you want them to take these homes.

If you want to see more we have a website it's laptop.org it grows by leaps and bounds, there's a
Wiki, there's nothing private about what we do and over the next few weeks I think what you'll see
is that there'll be partnerships and changes with companies that can start rolling this out because
the one thing that happens and becomes pretty clear pretty quickly is that in order to get this to
happen around the world you need people to copy it, you need people to do it at a much, much larger
scale. No matter what we do and no matter how big we get as laptop.org or as OLPC you're not going
to do the whole world. So what you want to do is influence sufficiently to have other people do it
as fast as possible. So tune in in a few months and I hope, it's always bad to make predictions,
but we'll get a few million of these out before the end of the year and then it just grows and it
becomes like a virus.

Thank you very, very much

Robyn Williams: A rapturous reception for Professor Nicholas Negroponte. He actually got a standing
ovation and the people I spoke to afterwards about his address said they'd been enthralled.
Nicholas Negroponte is one of the kingpins of the communications revolution, along with Bill Gates
and Steve Jobs and he's taking the new technology where it's making a huge difference. One laptop
per child. The revolution goes on.