'60 Minutes': What if every child had a laptop? Video
'60 Minutes': What if every child had a laptop? Video Transcript
>> The idea came to him in a remote village called Rexmey [assumed spelling], a four hour drive on a dirt road from the nearest town. It's as far from MIT as you can get. They don't even have running water. [ banging ] [ child yelling ]
>> Negroponte [assumed spelling ] and his family founded a school here in 1999, putting in a satellite dish and generators. Then they gave the children laptops. Instantly, school became a lot more popular.
>> Kids who had never seen a computer before were now crossing the digital divide.
>> Nicholas Negroponte was knocked out.
>> The first English word of every child in that village was Google. The village has no electricity, no telephone, no television. And the children take laptops home that are connected broadband to the internet.
>> When they take the laptops home, the kids often teach the whole family how to use it.
>> Families loved it cause it was the brightest light source in the house.
>> Cause they had no electricity.
>> Talk about a metaphor and reality simultaneously. It just illuminated that household.
>> We have to go to study computer now, yes? Good.
>> Once the computers were there, school attendance went way up.
>> This year for example, 50% more children showed up for first grade.
>> In Cambodia?
>> Yeah. Because the kids who were in first grade last year told the other kids you know, school is pretty cool.
>> Negroponte wanted this for all children everywhere. But he realized conventional computers were too expensive. And so his dream of a hundred dollar laptop was born. And this is it, a low budget computer for children. Children like these second graders in a poor school in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Each child has been given his or her own machine as part of a test for the Brazilian government, to see if they should buy them for all their school children.
>> This must be pretty exciting for you to see these children.
>> It's very exciting, it's very gratifying. It's been two years in the making.
>> The children seem to especially like the built in camera that takes stills and video.
>> She's taking a picture of us taking a picture of her.
>> It also has Wi-Fi.
>> She's on the web?
>> Yeah, she seems to be on the web.
>> Negroponte's idea was that kids don't need teachers to learn the computer. They can pick it up by experimenting on their own, or as in this case with help from a friend.
>> That is what we're doing, is that that kid is showing this kid, that is key.
>> They get it instantly. It takes a ten year old child about three minutes.
>> And you're talking about children who've never worked on a computer?
>> Children who've never in some cases seen electricity.
>> You go into countries where there may not be enough food, where the children may not have good enough education to even teach them to read. Why a laptop? It almost sounds like a luxury for these people who need so much more than that.
>> Let me take two countries, Pakistan and Nigeria. 50% of the children in both of those countries are not in school.
>> At all.
>> At all. They have no schools, they don't even have trees under which a teacher might stand.
>> You're saying give them a laptop, even if they don't go to school?
>> Especially if they don't go to school.
>> Oh my.
>> If they don't go to school, this is school in a box.
>> Negroponte took a leave of absence from MIT two years ago, and has done little else but work on this ever since.
>> So Nicholas Negroponte, what's in it for you?
>> Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
>> He says it's purely humanitarian, and non-profit. With startup money from Google and other big companies, he assembled a team of engineers and programmers to come up with something that would stand up to third world conditions.
>> You can pour water on the keyboard, you can dip it into, you know, you can dip the base into a bathtub, you can carry it in the rain. It's more robust than your normal laptop. It doesn't even have holes in the side of it. If you look at it, you know, dirt, sand, I mean there's no place for it to go into the machine.
>> Again, designed for the child.
>> It looks like a toy on purpose. But it's a serious computer with many innovations. For instance, it's the first laptop with a screen you can use outdoors in full sunlight. Walter Bender, the president of software on the project, says there are loads of new features. You can draw on it -
>> Use a pen.
>> - or compose music. ^M00:04:57 [ music ] ^M00:05:01
>> It actually looks like an animal. These are meant to look like ears, right?
>> Right. These ears are the way in which the laptop communicates to the rest of the world. So the laptop listens with these ears, those are the radio antennas.
>> I don't have that on my computer.
>> No, and one of the reasons why this computer has probably two or three times better Wi-Fi range than your computer is because you don't have that.
>> It has two to three times better range?
>> Better range than your three thousand dollar laptop.
>> How long does the battery work?
>> By the time we're done with all our tuning, the battery should last ten, twelve hours.
>> With heavy use.
>> If the battery does run out, and you live in a thatch hut in the middle of nowhere, you can charge it up with a crank, or a salad spinner.
>> So you do this for about a minute or two.
>> Do a minute or two, and you get ten or twenty minutes of reading.
>> The One Laptop Per Child computer is a computing revolution.
>> Wan Vota [assumed spelling] is director of Geek Core, a type of peace corp that brings technology to developing countries. He's so fascinated by this computer, he has a website devoted to it.
>> It's an entire change in the way that you use computers. And at the same time -
>> You can pour a glass of water on it and it won't break.
>> Yes, it's waterproof. I can't wait to type outside with the computer for hours, without worrying about dust or heat. So the One Laptop Per Child technology is cutting edge. It's clock stopping hot.
>> But he doesn't buy Negroponte's contention that kids can figure it out without a teacher.
>> If you hand a child a violin or piano, they can make noise with it, right? But will they be able to make music. And if you give a child a computer, they'll be able to operate the computer, but will they really be able to learn without having a teacher, whether it's formal or informal to help them along that learning path.
>> He says there are other problems. For poor countries like Cambodia, there are costs beyond the price of the computer, like satellites to connect to the internet. And what about theft?
>> What says an older kid isn't just gonna swipe this thing? Seems like its' inevitable.
>> We've spent a lot of time on security. If this is stolen from a child, within twenty four hours, it stops working.
>> So everbody's testing different computers up here.
>> But lately One Laptop has had to contend with a new challenge, competition. This lab in Sao Paolo is testing two other laptops the Brazilian government is thinking of buying for school children, including one made in India, and Negroponte's biggest competitor, The Classmate, by the giant chip maker, Intel.
>> What do you think of this one?
>> It's just like a small laptop, miniature laptop.
>> So it's purely humanitarian. You did it only to help the poor kids around the world.
>> Why did other companies, for profit companies decide they wanted a piece of this action?
>> Because the numbers are so large, they look at the numbers, and they say if we're not in those, we're toast.
>> Here in Brazil there are fifty five million school children, most of them poor, many live in cavallas [assumed spelling] like this one. In China, there are two hundred million. Worldwide, Nicholas Negroponte says the potential number of kids who could get his laptop is over a billion. A fact that has not gone unnoticed by Intel, and other high tech companies.
>> Intel gave every student in this class in Mexico a Classmate, which Negroponte believes is part of an effort to kill him off.
>> It's predatory.
>> At a recent lecture at MIT, he accused Intel of dumping, of going to the same governments he's trying to sell to, and offering the Classmate below cost.
>> Intel should be ashamed of itself. It's just, it's just shameless.
>> Craig Barrett is Intel's chairman of the board.
>> Negroponte believes that you're trying to drive him out.
>> We're not trying to drive him out of business. We're trying to bring capability to young people. And it's more than just Intel, it's gonna take the whole industry to do this.
>> Barrett flies around the world, bringing computers to schools in places like Malanalko [assumed spelling], Mexico.
>> Do you like the computers? [inaudible]
>> He says that like Negroponte, Intel just wants to help kids get affordable computers, and that they would be willing to reach an accommodation with One Laptop.
>> There are lots of opportunities for us to work together. That's why when you say this is competition and we're trying to drive them out of business, this is crazy.
>> Not to Negroponte, who says the rivalry goes back to when he first introduced the One Laptop, and Barrett dismissed it as a gadget. For Nicholas Negroponte, it's not just business, it's personal. It's about his dream, his baby.
>> Has Intel hurt you and the mission?
>> Yes, Intel has hurt the mission enormously.
>> He thought he'd have millions of orders by now, but countries that had once promised to buy in bulk haven't. And so Negroponte spends almost all his time now lobbying government officials to buy the laptops.
>> I heard that you travel more than three hundred days a year.
>> Yes it's true, sadly. I travel -
>> There are only three hundred and sixty five days a year.
>> I actually travel about three hundred and thirty of them.
>> He says he's confident his mission will succeed, even though he's about to face even more competition, as other companies are working on low cost laptops. But that will result in more kids getting computers, which is after all, what Negroponte said he wanted in the first place.
>> You know, you call your project One Laptop Per Child.
>> And you mean that every kid in the entire world is going to have a laptop.
>> Is that realistic?
>> If I was realistic, I wouldn't have started this project.
>> Okay, so it's not realistic.
>> It's the dream.
>> But we'll get close. ^M00:10:52 [ ticking ]
From the "60 Minutes" archive: Lesley Stahl and Nicholas Negroponte visit with children in Brazil who are experimenting with his One Laptop Per Child laptops. (Originally aired May 20, 2007)
From the "60 Minutes" archive: Lesley Stahl talks with Nicholas Negroponte on how the One Laptop per Child program and the idea of "ownership" has empowered children around the world. (Originally aired May 20, 2007)
From the '60 Minutes' archive: Lesley Stahl talks with Nicholas Negroponte on how children around the world can benefit from this program. (Originally aired May 20, 2007)
From the '60 Minutes' archive: The expectation of the One Laptop per Child project is that the children themselves will handle all of the repairs for the laptops. (Originally aired May 20, 2007)
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