Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

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Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby PictureSarah » Fri Oct 26, 2007 6:55 pm UTC

I have a friend who works for OLPC at MIT. I thought this was a pretty cool thing.

http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.p ... ;16;fpid;1
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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby Robin S » Fri Oct 26, 2007 7:02 pm UTC

I think I speak for many people here when I say:

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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby LoopQuantumGravity » Sat Oct 27, 2007 5:17 am UTC

And I thought batteries were heavy before...
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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby Kikral » Sat Oct 27, 2007 11:47 pm UTC

A laptop with a milk dispenser?
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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby fjafjan » Sun Oct 28, 2007 9:06 am UTC

Cool. Not only does he photoshop, he POWERS COMPUTERS

But I also wanted to say that article lies, the laptop was NOT intended to cost 100$, the goal was to start around maybe 100$ and keep moving the price down, (as stated in a TEDtalk) so yeah.
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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby Amicitia » Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:02 am UTC

I'm glad MIT is doing good in the world, giving starving children computers.
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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby pollywog » Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:42 am UTC

Amicitia wrote:I'm glad MIT is doing good in the world, giving starving children computers.


To be fair, I don't think they give the laptops to the starving children. And before you be sarcastic, ask yourself what you do to help those less well off than you. Unless you're actively helping or can propose a better way, shut yer trap.
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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby Amicitia » Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:41 am UTC

pollywog wrote:
Amicitia wrote:I'm glad MIT is doing good in the world, giving starving children computers.


To be fair, I don't think they give the laptops to the starving children. And before you be sarcastic, ask yourself what you do to help those less well off than you. Unless you're actively helping or can propose a better way, shut yer trap.

Many of the countries they're interested in giving laptops to can't afford anything near that price, and a charity would also have to pay for ongoing costs due to consumption of goods, breakage, theft and a myriad of other costs.

Also, knowing electrical engineering is useless if your hometown--and country--mostly don't have running water and lights. Knowing agro economics is useless when one has no capital or easy access to credit. Mind you, I think agro economics is really fun, and I might specialize in it. I could get some sources and elaborate for quite a bit, but necessities before luxuries seems to make sense.

As someone who worked on computer repair, restoration and distribution to the needy, I can say that poorer people have a lot of problems. Things you wouldn't worry about, such as: I can't afford to fix something that seems trivial to you, or I can't afford connecting to the Internet, or power bills are running high (that I will credit MIT for, if they implement it widely), or I can't afford customer service if there's something I can't understand and I don't have the time to seek help, or anything.

Even if the computers get there intact, the positive impact on places with little infrastructure seem trivial to me, and that's a big if.
Last edited by Amicitia on Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:55 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby Hawknc » Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:52 am UTC

I'm going to take a stab that a village that is capable of raising cattle at least has enough water for themselves and the cattle, as well as feedstock. I don't know everything about the OLPC project so I'm not going to say that they're completely infallible, but as Pollywog said, unless you're doing something to help alleviate the problems that you see...well, he said it best. Honestly, I thought you'd be for the project, given that the standard leftist-thinking of welfare for food and basic supplies only helps people exist at that level, whereas education would help them get out of the poverty cycle.

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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby Amicitia » Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:55 am UTC

There's no infrastructure to utilize such human capital.
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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby Hawknc » Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:37 am UTC

You can't just make a blanket statement like that. The world isn't split into us in our suburban homes and starving children in Africa. There are MILLIONS of children who have enough food, water etc to survive, even go to school, but whose families cannot afford to expand their education beyond the rudimentary skills they learn in school before they drop out at a relatively young age to help support their families. For them, the ability to access and interact with the rest of the world could help them get an education well beyond anything they could achieve otherwise.

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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby Amicitia » Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:41 am UTC

Hawknc wrote:You can't just make a blanket statement like that. The world isn't split into us in our suburban homes and starving children in Africa. There are MILLIONS of children who have enough food, water etc to survive, even go to school, but whose families cannot afford to expand their education beyond the rudimentary skills they learn in school before they drop out at a relatively young age to help support their families. For them, the ability to access and interact with the rest of the world could help them get an education well beyond anything they could achieve otherwise.

Maybe you should step out of your suburban home for a minute then. I'm pretty sure cow-power implies no stable electricity and a very agro environment.
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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby Maurog » Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:51 pm UTC

Why are you discussing the village as if you don't know where it is?

It's in India, near Mumbai, which happens to be a huge metropolis. The village itself is obviously agricultural and has no stable electricity. But to claim no infrastructure? Ridiculous. India is just this way, most of the people live simple peasant lives, and the big cities can be almost as modern as any Western one.

Mumbai has an estimated population of 13 million, that's almost twice as much as in the whole of Israel. Banks, stock exchange, 4 of the Fortune Global 500 companies, the Bolliwood movies industry, engineering, healthcare, information technology, various other industries and a port. No infrastructure?
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Re: Cow-powered laptops from OLPC

Postby Okita » Mon Oct 29, 2007 2:11 pm UTC

Amicitia wrote:Also, knowing electrical engineering is useless if your hometown--and country--mostly don't have running water and lights. Knowing agro economics is useless when one has no capital or easy access to credit. Mind you, I think agro economics is really fun, and I might specialize in it. I could get some sources and elaborate for quite a bit, but necessities before luxuries seems to make sense.

I think this guy proves you wrong in spades:William Kamkwamba
True, he probably still has had a better education than most, being a dropout but if he was able to use a library book to windpower his home, what could other people do? Makes me think about this guy who used beer bottles to build a solarpowered thermal shower. The link unfortunately is not the best one but the first one I found. I know there's a better article around somewhere, I'll find it later.

But the point is that having lower-power/agro-centric does not necessarily mean that you're stuck forever. Progress is possible. Whether OLPC is effective or not is a different question. I can think of reasons why it's not (cost v. benefit/ "illegal" uses for the computer: porn) but sarcastically claiming that kids are starving doesn't really solve the problem.

Or if that doesn't help...think about it this way: The people who work on the OLPC project are most likely to be either software developers or electrical engineers right? From your "starving children don't need laptops" standpoint, the people at MIT should be focusing on solving the hunger problem. Except that I doubt software/electrical engineers are really equipped to do that. And I'm sure some of them are working on increasing food production. But a lot of the situation really is economic-based and I think that the people working on OLPC are applying their best skills to the problem.

Amicitia wrote:As someone who worked on computer repair, restoration and distribution to the needy, I can say that poorer people have a lot of problems. Things you wouldn't worry about, such as: I can't afford to fix something that seems trivial to you, or I can't afford connecting to the Internet, or power bills are running high (that I will credit MIT for, if they implement it widely), or I can't afford customer service if there's something I can't understand and I don't have the time to seek help, or anything.

Even if the computers get there intact, the positive impact on places with little infrastructure seem trivial to me, and that's a big if.


I used to hang around on the OLPC wiki because I was interested in the talks about using artificial languages/ certain learning game software developing. Now...if you looked at the wiki or even any part of the site, you'd see that they put a lot of effort into trying to make it "user-friendly". The interface is not as powerful as a normal PC but it's a lot sturdier than most. The power bill has always been a factor which is why they experimented and debated on handcranks, solar, and hydropower. As for the bit about the internet... well, when I first read about the program they were toying with some sort of intranet wireless system (which wouldn't require an ISP: no money) but on the wiki this page states that OLPC isn't assuming there will be any internet where it is deployed but will allow for the functionality in the hardware if the governments can afford to place internet connections for the students.

All that information was pretty easily accessible. What I want to know is since you're someone who is knowledgeable about "computer repair, restoration and distribution to the needy", why couldn't you at least read a bit about the OLPC on their wiki/website. Or even better, post on the wiki about the costs of computer repair/ restoration to perhaps lower the costs of the OLPC and make it a more feasible solution?
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