Our effect


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How will those societies that adopt the laptop be affected?

We acknowledge that the laptop will have social, economic, and political impact and that in some instances it may have a negative impact. We will be working closely with our partner countries to monitor the impact, highlighting examples of best practice. We remain steadfast in our belief that learning is fundamental to positive change and that the laptop will afford opportunities for learning where they did not previously exist.

What potential negative impacts do the project organizer's foresee?

As with any technology, there are opportunities for abuse; undoubtedly, some of the laptops will be stolen; some will never reach the children; some will be used for rote instruction; some won't be used at all. However, our experiences in virtually every pilot we have either studied or run over the past 40 years suggests that the impact of empowering children, their teachers, families, and communities with computation and communication has a net positive impact on learning, social cohesion, local economies, etc.

How will the social, economic, and political impacts be monitored?

We are helping the pilot countries to develop a wide range of metrics for measuring the impact of the project: everything from standardized test scores, to truancy rates, to economic development.

What role will these impacts play in shaping the project?

The project is not being implemented as an "open loop"; rather we expect to feed back into the project course corrections as we move forward. Will things happen the same in Brazil as in China? At the macro-level, probably not. But at the micro-level, we expect children to learn learning through independent and social interaction and exploration.

Should these impacts be studied before the laptops are released?

There is no way to truly know the impact of the OLPCs before they are in use. That said, there have been lessons learned from numerous 1-to-1 computing projects around the world and there is every expectation that lessons learned in the early deployment will provide feedback as the project rolls out more widely.

How will family, community, and religious structures that have existed for generations be impacted?

There will be change; however, we are making every effort to make the laptop an instrument of change that is under local control, so that family and community dictate to the extent possible the character of that change.

How will the project affect relationships between generations or traditional social structures based on age?

Children have always been the earliest adopters of new and developing technology due to their ability to quickly learn and adapt to new stimulus and circumstances. Comparatively, adults are often more stagnant and set in their ways. Because of these differences, the older generations will be less likely to embrace and become part of the technological revolutions which are occurring in third world societies.

While the younger generations who are affected by this project become more computer literate and technologically developed in a modern sense, they will begin to have a more profound social leverage than their elders. The formative years of childhood, and the education received during that time span contribute to a holistic result, which will present a tremendous contrast between those who have been given a computer-based education and those who have not.

The children who have been introduced to computer-based learning through the OLPC will have more clout and compatibility with the developed world than their elders, which will affect the way that their community politics are conducted.

What are the potential consequences of reversing the social clout of children and elders in these societies?

Hopefully? Revolution.

How will the native languages in these countries be affected?

The primary impact that we can foresee is that these languages will become more usable on computers and computer networks. OLPC volunteers will be creating fonts so that more languages can be used by OLPC users. And this will drive an increase in digitized content in these native languages. However, the utimate fate of every language depends on what the native speakers want to do with it. Over this we have no direct influence.

It looks like the operating environment and basic applications will all be in English. Will there be versions in Mandarin Chinese, Swahili or other languages the children are likely to know?

The goal is for everything to be available in the local languages of the countries where the OLPCs will be distributed. This means that machines distributed in Thailand will fully support Thai. Machines in India will support the local languages of India.

Although we hope many do, the children are not required to ever see the insides of the development environment, the OS, or the application source code. It is no harder to develop internationalised Python applications in Japanese than it is in English.

Have there been studies done monitoring the progress that these laptops are making?

Not to date, as they have not yet been deployed. There are studies of other, smaller-scale laptop deployments.

When the manufacturer was chosen, how much consideration was given to avoiding exploitative labour?

The computers will be manufactured in Taiwan by Quanta. Since Taiwan is a relatively developed area one can assume that there is low risk of exploitation.

This comment needs updating for two reasons. 1. Some companies in Taiwan are known for exploitation of workers. 2. The laptops are being manufactured in China which has consistently exploitative labour practices.

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