This is good stuff.
Researchers in Tunis have unveiled a $A137 hand-cranked laptop computer, saying they hoped to place them in the hands of millions of schoolchildren around the globe.
About the size of a textbook, the lime-green machines can set up their own wireless networks and operate in areas without a reliable electricity supply, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers said at a United Nations technology summit...
The goal is to provide the machines free of charge to children in poor countries who cannot afford computers of their own, said MIT Media Lab chairman Nicholas Negroponte.
Governments or charitable donors will pay for the machines but children will own them, he said. "Ownership of the laptops is absolutely critical," he said. "Have you ever washed a rented car?"
If you believe in the value of empowerment through education, in the necessity of bringing technology to children in developing countries, and in the importance of global networking, then this is really good stuff.
I worry a lot about our hopes of surviving the advent of molecular manufacturing -- war, chaos, and oppression seem all too likely -- but this initiative is a positive sign and a cause for some optimism about the future.
Obviously, it doesn't directly provide solutions for managing nanotech's awesome power, but it sure can't hurt to give many more young minds a tool for learning, communicating, and contributing.
UPDATE: Watch this 8-minute video documentary (kudos to Andy Carvin). Meet Mary Lou Jepsen, chief technology officer for MIT's One Laptop per Child project, who says, "We want to give a laptop to every child on earth, through their governments, a million units at a time. That’s our five-year goal."