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Gates Mocks MIT's $100 Laptop

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the at-leat-they're-trying dept.

816

QuietLagoon writes 'Reuters is reporting that Bill Gates is making fun of the one laptop per child initiative to revolutionize how the world's children are educated. 'The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen,' Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in suburban Washington. 'Hardware is a small part of the cost' of providing computing capabilities, he said, adding that the big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support. 'If you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type,' Gates said.'

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Education starts only with opportunity (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933226)

While I think Gates is right to mock these laptops, I don't think he understands the realities of the problems of helping others around the world. The only thing that helps others is letting them find or create their own opportunities to better their futures. Taking care of people today is counter-productive and can destroy opportunities in the future.

Computers don't make opportunities. Teachers don't make opportunities. Public funding of projects, businesses and markets doesn't make opportunities. Opportunities come when a given community finds that is can accomplish something that others in a market want.

The Internet won't help here -- it isn't here to educate, it is here to help people meet each other's needs. The people using the Internet to better themselves are already living in an economy that enables them to find opportunities to better themselves. That realization is enough to give the average person the desire to make their lives better.

Gates is right -- the $100 laptop is useless. The people it is being built for do not understand opportunity because their community leaders have robbed them of any chance to better themselves. Many of the world's poor live under the thumb of a small group of elitists who think they can help the poor through force. They attempt to provide what their poor needs today, without realizing that just giving someone something doesn't offer any hope for the future. This is especially true if what you're giving them today doesn't really help them enough.

The Bible offers the old fish cliche -- give a man a fish and he'll eat today, teach a man to fish and he'll eat forever. This is very important when making a consideration towards helping another person. I hate helping others through tax-and-spend wealth redistribution: there is no accountability in how the money is spent. I give all my charitable dollars (in the past few months, over 50% of my income) only to those I can hold accountable. This sounds like a "quid pro quo" situation, but it would be no different if it was my own brother or child or best friend. If the person I am helping is not making attempts to support themselves, then my help is wasted -- time, money, love or support. There are others who want to help themselves but are in a position (for whatever reason) that they just can't. These are the people I help.

I would never fund anyone in another country, never again. When I was younger I funded some Ehtiopian charity group, and a few years later had the opportunity to visit Ethiopia. The charity group's office was luxurious and the people working for it lived a very nice life. They found an opportunity: take advantage of idiots in other countries who can't hold the charity accountable. The people the charity was meant to help received very little of the finance and support promised, and what little they did receive did not give them any hope for the future.

It is this hope that creates opporunities. I've seen poor people climb out of poverty with no help from anyone, just because a simple opportunity opened up near them. I just visited Europe and Asia, and I saw thousands of very poor people taking advantage of opportunities that we in the U.S. would never consider doing. Many of these people realized their time investment could offer them the chance to save for the future, to give their children a better chance, to even save some money so they can better their own lives -- in the future. I would never give a homeless person a home, a car and a credit card. I would never give an uneducated person a computer or an education. I would never give a hungry person money to buy food. I would never fund health care of people who don't care about their lives or the lives of their children.

But I would open my home to the homeless person, if they were willing to make steps to find how they can house themselves in the future. I would (and do) spend time with poor families to give their children a chance to learn in some way so that they could take on a job earlier in life so that their children might have a chance to a better life -- and maybe even the person I help could educate themselves later in life and grow through taking advantage of the opportunities that always open up as you become responsible, and accountable. I would open my kitchen to a hungry person if I knew that I wasn't feeding them only so they could spend their little bit of money on alcohol or drugs -- there is no helping someone who isn't ready to help themselves, and the money and time you spend on an irresponsible and unaccountable person could be spent better if you found someone in the same situation who was truly ready to move beyond their situation and think of the future. I would happily take a sick person to my doctor and pay for the service if they truly understood that their future opportunities can only be taken advantage of if they live a healthy life.

These laptops are no different than any other form of welfare or unaccountable charity: the money is being spent, the time is being spent, but there are no real opportunities being created. Before we help the poor outside this country, we need to look at our own government policies that are robbing others of opportunities to better themselves. There is so much protectionism and favoritism in our country (causing higher prices) that prevents the poor in other countries from trading with us (giving us better prices and giving them opportunities). There are tariffs and embargoes (see Cuba) that prevent the world's poor from bettering themselves, and we have to address these issues first. You can talk all you want about taking my hard earned money and giving it to the less fortunate, but I've been to every continent but Antarctica, and I can tell you that there ARE no less fortunate that aren't there because someone more powerful elsewhere is destroying hope for the future.

Opportunity is not about making yourself better today, it is about having hope for the future -- for your future, for your children's future, and even for your community's future. The US could be the most loved nation in the world if only we would stop all our policies -- ALL of them -- that hamper or harm or completely destroy the chance for others the make their lives better on their own.

I'm ready to teach others to fish, yet millions of Americans want to stop me by giving away sick fish to the world. When will we learn that opportunity is the only way to give the world a desire to become educated, and that opportunity is only created when we stop favoritism, protectionism and cronyism.

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (4, Insightful)

pizzaman100 (588500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933290)

The Bible offers the old fish cliche -- give a man a fish and he'll eat today, teach a man to fish and he'll eat forever

Pretty sure that's not from the Bible.

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933359)

The Bible offers the old fish cliche -- give a man a fish and he'll eat today, teach a man to fish and he'll eat forever

Pretty sure that's not from the Bible.


No, that was more, "teach a man to replicate fish...".

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (5, Funny)

include($dysmas) (729935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933412)

ive always prefered

give a man a match, his hand will be warm for 0.37 second. Set a man on fire he will be warm for the rest of his life.

back on topic "adding that the big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support." ... mostly your fault that mate, cheers.

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933481)

You're right. Haven't had my first cup of Senseo, so you can go ahead and flog me until I do :)

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (5, Funny)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933488)

-1 Troll? I'm pretty sure that's a Chinese proverb or somesuch. Unless someone can actually find a reference...

No, the version in the bible goes something like: "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for fish."
=Smidge=

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933304)

what's that in my eye? is it a tear?
oh, wait... it's not.

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933317)

Gates is right -- the $100 laptop is useless.

Useless to him, certainly not useless to millions of poor people.

-jcr

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (5, Insightful)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933478)

Gates is right -- the $100 laptop is useless.

Useless to him, certainly not useless to millions of poor people.

Actually, the $100 computer would be utterly useless to the millions of poor people -- if it every appeared, which I doubt.

Gates is wrong, all the same. There's a much better reason to mock the $100 laptop: what the "$100 laptop" offers already available throughout the third world, and is, increasingly, being used by people in the third world for the same thing that we in the first world use our computers for: communication. Cheap cell phones are blooming throughout Africa and Asia.

The average cell phone is a pretty powerful computer. With a display. And an always-on wireless link. And a storage system. And a data-entry pad. And, and, and.

Gates' criticism is laughable -- there's a lot of use in a small screen, for instance -- but Negroponte's idea is stupid, too.

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (1)

hahiss (696716) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933505)

This is just so spot on as a response.

We might also want to add that there's something so typically shortsighted and doctrinaire about a libertarian who says ``computers do not create opportunities."

Because, you know, no industries popped up around computing in the last 30 years, and the introduction of new entities (practices, artifacts, tools, and the like) don't create demand in markets. . . .

Oh, no, wait they did and they do. So that would undercut the GP's suggestion that they don't.

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (1)

nb caffeine (448698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933405)

I don't think he understands the realities of the problems of helping others around the world

Im not saying he is right in making these comments, but he does know a thing or two about donating millions of dollars to help people around the world...

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933439)

The nineties called. They want their libertarian dribble back.

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (4, Insightful)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933462)

The Bible offers the old fish cliche -- give a man a fish and he'll eat today, teach a man to fish and he'll eat forever.

Did you mean that cliche literally came from the Bible? I don't think so, but if you want to offer a reference, I'll check.

It does teach that charity from the church should proceed by the rule that "For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat." (II Thessalonians 3:10) I'd say that allows us to infer the same concept. But the saying itself did not originate there, to my knowledge.

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933468)

I couldn't agree with you more.

That's why I think all of the vaccination efforts around the world as such BS: people need to help themselves not wait for some handout from the rich, and if some of them die in the meantime, well, that makes it easier of the rest of the people around them. A multi-disease vaccination shot for under $5? Why? It will just teach people not to help themselves.

Ditto for clean water efforts, and, really, all public infrastructure projects. Infrastructure and the good health to use it doesn't create opportunities, people do.

Pretty much, other people are stupid and don't even know what's best for them, so I'm not going to make any efforts to help them at all until they start to get smart. The poor don't need help. They need a backbone.

BEST TROLL EVER (-1, Troll)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933479)

Subtle language and empathy combined with unabatadly poor analogies/examples, and eventually turning the arguments made on their head and reaching the same conclusion anyone with a grasp of intelligenced would make, no matter what perspective they came at it from. This is so good! TROLL MASTER!

Re:Education starts only with opportunity (3, Insightful)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933510)

I would never fund anyone in another country, never again. When I was younger I funded some Ehtiopian charity group, and a few years later had the opportunity to visit Ethiopia. The charity group's office was luxurious and the people working for it lived a very nice life. They found an opportunity: take advantage of idiots in other countries who can't hold the charity accountable. The people the charity was meant to help received very little of the finance and support promised, and what little they did receive did not give them any hope for the future.

Again, the Bible offers a model here. In the Bible, a church would send support to another church in a foreign land during times of trouble (such as famine), through a trusted person (such as the apostle Paul). The book of Acts relates at least one such church to church contribution, and I'm pretty sure First or Second Corinthians (maybe both) has Paul speaking about how he made sure to take witnesses along with him on such endeavors so everyone could know for sure the money got to the poor people who needed it. Starting point for reading would be Acts 11:27-30.

Throwing Stones (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933231)


'The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen,' Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in suburban Washington. 'Hardware is a small part of the cost' of providing computing capabilities, he said, adding that the big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support. 'If you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type,' Gates said.'

Fscking rich snob. You know, this git travelled around the world, donates money to fight diseases in 3rd world countries, but seems to have this wild belief that these backwaters are going to have telecommunications to each school and house, let alone broadband.

He SAW the crank handle, what part of "they use this because they don't even have electric" doesn't he understand? It's crap like this that gives the west a worse reputation, never mind invading oil countries, but doing bugger all for poor african nations. Geez, Bill, go back to feeling all warm and fuzzy inside about your Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, or maybe you could free up $100B and give people in these developing backwaters with shite infrastructure some electricity, running water and telecommunications. Then maybe the destabilizing wars will settle down, which actually go a long way towards contributing to the diseases you like to fund the fight against, and the people won't be on the move so much and they can all get down to the business of e-commerce.

Cripes... I can just see some kid sitting in an adobe house in a rural village looking at his bright shiny Dell laptop with Windows Vista installed, 2 GB memory, 200G HD, whizzy graphics, and wondering if he could use it as a hard surface to practice his writing on.,

Bill's probably really spiteful because it doesn't spread the market penetration of Microsoft. So where's his effort? If he hasn't got one, he shouldn't be spitting on others.

we give money to underprivileged congressmen to help develping strategies for them to look the other way.

Re:Throwing Stones (3, Funny)

tdemark (512406) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933314)

'Hardware is a small part of the cost' of providing computing capabilities, he said

... a very small part, where Windows is concerned.

Re:Throwing Stones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933345)

So lets give them useless crank computers while thousands die from starvation and lack of proper medicine? Sounds like a plan!

Re:Throwing Stones (5, Interesting)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933368)

Fscking rich snob. You know, this git travelled around the world, donates money to fight diseases in 3rd world countries, but seems to have this wild belief that these backwaters are going to have telecommunications to each school and house, let alone broadband

Actually, in earlier stories on Gates' view of the $100 laptop, he is clearly aware that they don't have adequate telecommunications, and said that what they need is not laptops, but cell phones and the associated infrastructure. He said what we should be making and giving them cheaply are basically cell phones that you can hook up to a TV and keyboard and use as a computer.

This is because Microsoft isn't involved. (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933421)

From this article [cnn.com]:
Even tech titans like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Michael Dell are talking to Negroponte about his plans. Jobs initially dismissed the laptop as a "science project" but is now contributing ideas. Dell had his staff vet the cost of the device's components. And Gates would like Negroponte to use Microsoft software rather than the free open-source alternatives that Negroponte currently favors.

... and this article [silicon.com]:
Software behemoth Microsoft has also yet to determine its involvement in the $100 laptop scheme, although at present the use of open source software will preclude it from contributing a Windows operating system.
However, Bill Gates met with Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT's Media Lab, who is involved with the $100 laptop project, to discuss Microsoft's participation in the scheme, the WSJ reported.


Interesting how Microsoft initially wanted to be involved. Bill Gates wasn't mocking the project then, but now it seems Microsoft isn't involved, and even though the laptop itself hasn't changed, Bill Gates is having a go at it.

Interesting.

Re:Throwing Stones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933453)

How did parent get modded insightful?? All this post contains is a series of rants and complaints with no cohesive argument or idea. First it complains about Bill Gates & in doing so invalidates itsself by attacking the man instead of his words. Then the rant continues on to complain about the west. Sounds like flamebait to me.

Re:Throwing Stones (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933498)

You seem to be missing the point. You are completely agreeing with Bill. The whole point is you need the infrastructure before "any" computer will be of use and this $100 computer is completely worthless in either case.

Assume they are given out in an area with no electricity, telco, etc like you say. What good are these $100 computers? Is the theory that one kid will keep cranking it while another creates a document and then a third cranks some hand-powered printer so he can print it? If that is the situation, its kind of like how the US vs Russions solved the problem of writing in space. Give the kids a pencil for Christ's sakes!

Without infrastructure these $100 laptops are really completely useless! Maybe they can see what it looks like for a computer to bootup, but that's about it. So now if you are going to build out the infrastructure, the cost of that dwarfs the costs of a few PCs. Why would you spend $100 Billion on the infrastructure and then decide to spend $1Million for a bunch of crippled basically worthless computers instead of $2-3Million for a slightly stripped down Dell or something actually useful?

I think the $100 laptop is an interesting idea and some very interesting and useful things could certainly come out of it, but that's not the point. The people behind the $100 laptop seem to have a very narrow view/goal. It's a great goal, but without seeing the broader picture it's a bit misguided perhaps. The fact is without proper infrastructure ANY computer is going to be a complete waste like you say (a hard surface to write on maybe). Now once you look at the costs of providing the infrastructure, the price of the computers are pretty irrelevant so why not at least get something somewhat useful?

The fine line between good and evil (5, Insightful)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933232)

It's fascinating where the generous and charitable Bill Gates ends, and the ruthless businessman Bill Gates begins.

You would hope with his experience in the public eye, that he would have learnt that nobel efforts to help the less fortunate should be encouraged. Good luck to MIT and anyone associated with the project.

__
Funny Porn @ Laugh DAILY [laughdaily.com]

Re:The fine line between good and evil (4, Insightful)

RenHoek (101570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933308)

Well, it goes without saying that they won't ship with Vista. This will add to the Linux market share significantly, even though there are no profits generated by putting linux on those laptops. But it will hurt the graphs though. The PR department will hate it.

And if Billy Boy is one thing, he's a PR man.

Hypocrites (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933237)

Slashdot made fun of this. Now Gates made fun of it. Now we will see Slashdot slam Gates for making fun of it.

Re:Hypocrites (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933367)

Not hypocrites. Just a diversity of opinion within a crowd, and a general bias on Slashdot for "bashing" comments in general. =P

Re:Hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933385)

I'd bet that someone who had more time than me could go through the respective threads and find at least one person making opposite statements in each thread.

Re:Hypocrites (1, Troll)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933491)

Slashdot is not a "diversity of opinion". He's right. This laptop wass roasted by /., and now Gates will get roasted for holding a similar opinion.

I similarly will get roasted for the comment in the form of bad karma.

Re:Hypocrites (1)

955301 (209856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933380)


There's nothing hypocritical about it. Slashdot is a group of people. Some of them mocked the idea, but some of them didn't.

Gates is one person with an obvious conflict of interest and doesn't seem to realize that outside his high-tech house and country, people have very limited resources to work with.

Everything he suggested would drive the price up. My first computer was clunky and didn't do much. 20 years later I write my own scanner client software because I can make one easier to use than the vendor's software (HP, you suck).

And just like when he said 640 Kb should be enough for everybody back then, he's wrong now as well.

Remember, his company will enter the market later if MIT's model proves successful.

Re:Hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933407)

He never said that 640k was enough for anybody. Do some research.

Re:Hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933435)

No shit... and it is unreal to see all the people in here saying Gates knows nothing of the people the laptop is intended for. Gates has more _real world_ experience helping these people than any 50 of you combined.

Get a fucking clue slashbots

Not really. (4, Insightful)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933442)

Slashdot didn't make fun of the computers, it was more of disbelief - the project is very ambitious and $100 price tag seems to be unreachable. Lots of us, /. nerds would love to get that thing, but we see it as vaporware, a dream that won't come true.

On the other hand, Gates is mocking the strengths of the idea and shows real shortsightedness. He says the cost is network and software, which is bullshit. The software is to be Linux so no real cost here. The network doesn't need to be broadband, and likely won't be - and the bandwidth can be donated by country using existing data lines, HAM radio and different other really cheap options. A single broadband line for whole school, it's neither expensive nor impossible. The remaining BIG cost is the hardware and only a guy with several $bln on his account can consider it negligible. Gates imagines this: OS: $150. Broadband line: $300 installing, $30/month. Other software (MS Office, antivirus, anti-spyware etc) $200. So why not round it up to $1000 with the hardware. The guys at MIT think: OS: $0. Software: $0. Network: old HAM radio: $0 (donated), old 2nd hand modem $5, bandwidth govt-sponsored. Hardware: $100.

$100 may be a year or two of hard saving for an average family in some countries. $1000 is for most of them completely out of reach.

So either aim at this unrealistic $100 (and maybe laugh with us about how vaporware this is) or just give up.

Re:Hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933517)

Ahhrg, the stupidity. So, some posters made fun of the thing. Many also wondered if they could buy one.
Unless you can point to individual posters you have no argument.

Slashdot is not a single entity. It is _OK_ that different opinions show up here.

So, basically, (-1, Troll)

JayPee (4090) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933247)

Gates just proved that he's a douchebag who hates impoverished children.

Talk is cheap Mr Gates (-1, Flamebait)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933248)

Put up or shut up!

Re:Talk is cheap Mr Gates (3, Insightful)

bwd (936324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933294)

He's donated billions of dollars worth of medicine to children all over Africa and elsewhere. If anyone in this world has "put up or shut up," it's Mr. Gates. He is expressing genuine concern.

Re:Talk is cheap Mr Gates (2, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933463)

Except when it comes to tech. Then he tries to gouge these people. Look at the nambia.net stories of MS "generosity". I don't see his donations as much more than PR. Its great that these people are getting this food/medicine/money. But really, the motivations need to be examined before you declare this guy as anything genuine.

Re:Talk is cheap Mr Gates (1, Insightful)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933512)

He's donated billions of dollars worth of medicine to children all over Africa and elsewhere.

I'm glad that he's spending all the illegally gotten gains on good causes.

But would life be better if competition had caused operating system software to go towards zero (it's approximate real cost). Goods and services which depend for their production on computers (ie. just about everything) would be cheaper. Whole countries would not be exporting $billions to him every year, and instead would be able to spend that money on investment and growth.

I suppose we'll never know.

Rich.

Re:Talk is cheap Mr Gates (1)

Imsdal (930595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933500)

There is a better than average chance that, ten years from now, Mr. Gates will have done more to help poor people in poor countries than anyone in history, ever. And you tell him to put up or shut up? Sheeesh...

I would criticize Gates.. (3, Insightful)

bwd (936324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933259)

But he has put his money where his mouth is concerning helping needy children. He hasn't sold them $100 computers, but he has given away for free various medicines worth billions of dollars over many years. So I think his criticism should be seen in that context. I think he's expressing genuine concern.

Re:I would criticize Gates.. (4, Funny)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933307)

Yes, the fact that he wouldn't make any money on this laptop, when he previously suggested that windows would be a good idea, has nothing to do with his comments. His comments shouldn't be seen in this context at all. That would be wrong.

There's two ways to look at it (1)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933311)

1) Honest critique of something he doesn't think would help, as he's honestly a giving guy and attempting to better the world

2) Businessman interested in protecting his market (computing) and preventing the competitors (linux) from gaining a significant foothold in the developing countries.

I'm guessing it's a little bit of a mix between the two; his bias will naturally have him play devil's advocate.

Re:There's two ways to look at it (1)

Davorama (11731) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933482)

3) Just didn't think it through very well from either the business or largess perspectives.

Re:I would criticize Gates.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933332)

And if the $100 computer people want to have the last laugh, they can stop issuing press releases and giving each other awards and start making the damn things.

Re:I would criticize Gates.. (1)

countb (918954) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933341)

Yes, genuine concern that thousands of children will learn using Linux, not Windows.

Re:I would criticize Gates.. (1)

ficken (807392) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933370)

Maybe he has helped in the past, but I really don't think he is expressing genuine concern by mocking the program. If he were truly concerned he would come out with something better. Or at least buy these kids a boat load of the $100 laptops.

Re:I would criticize Gates.. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933392)

I agree. I think not having to worry about malaria and other common diseases in the developing world is more important to living without a computer.

Re:I would criticize Gates.. (4, Insightful)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933415)

I think he's expressing genuine concern.

No, I think they are dumb comments that show Gates is completely out of touch with the realities of education in developing countries. So he gives money to charities? So what. Is that such a big deal for someone who has so much of it?

A little personal story about MS. I used to work for an educational organisation in the UK. We were working with Microsoft on a project to demonstrate Microsoft software to schools, in return they were giving the org I was working for some free software. In discussion with their head of marketing to the education sector, I raised the point that the demonstrations weren't actually very good from a educational perspective. He said to me condescendingly - "Microsoft is not interested in education, we just want schools to buy our software". That kind of sums up MS for me.

He's not a philanthropist *or* stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933433)

http://gnn.tv/articles/476/White_Man_s_Burden [gnn.tv]
He has "given away for free various medicines" so that countries that were thinking of ignoring the laws that protect the formulas of said medicines and mass produce them no longer have a reason to. The same international laws that protect his windows monopoly.

Re:I would criticize Gates.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933502)

He hasn't sold them $100 computers, but he has given away for free various medicines worth billions of dollars over many years.

Not to mention that he hasn't given them copies of Windows, which is a kind act in its own right.

The value of a dollar (4, Funny)

ExE122 (954104) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933260)

Well of course, its only a couple hundred dollars more... I could've easily afforded that when I was a kid and spent three years saving up for an $80 used nintendo console.

And in other news, victims of Hurricane Katrina have finally returned to New Orleans to find that places of business have shut down and their homes have been destroyed.

When asked how he felt about people that are homeless, Bill Gates commented, "Their house got destroyed? So why don't they just buy another one? Boy, some people are just stupid!"

Gates then proceded to laugh at a little boy who's family was on welfare. "He was so skinny! Why didn't he just eat something? Boy, some people are just stupid".

He then wiped his ass with a 100 dollar bill and lit it on fire in front of a blue-collar laborer.

Oscar night... (1)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933263)

And the award for Jerkface of the year goes to....

Bill Gates - for his stunning work in stunting industry growth and naysaying alternatives to his medieocre product!

Urge to Kill .... (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933267)

... rising ... RISING ....

This article is clearly flamebait. So allow me to participate in the opening salvo.

I think it's interesting how Gates proposes a solution where we need to put people to support the product, thereby charging money indefinitely. Keep your customers dependant, it's his tried and true component to his business model.

Perhaps Gates (and his wife Malinda) are satisfied with vaccinations and hand outs. Things like food, clothing, water, etc. While these things are very helpful in the short run, they unfortunately result in the poor remaining dependant on you for more hand outs. This is convenient if you wish yourself to be seen as a provider.

What's more valuable to you, food or a tool that could possibly help you learn how to procure food indefinitely. These laptops could be very valuable communication devices. Sometimes, it's just an open dialogue with someone intelligent that sparks the learning process.

It seems like Gates is walking up to someone who desperately needs just basic transportation and telling them that a $1,000 junker isn't what they need. They need a high performance Dodge Viper with a personal mechanic to maintain it. Broadband connection? Why? I thought I read that these $100 laptops were going to have radio frequency repeaters so that information could be sent from laptop to laptop and act as routers for each other.

You know, even if these laptops are mediocre or even a complete failure, at least someone tried to provide the tools to escape poverty permanently.

Either Gates thinks that poor equals stupid or he's got something against MIT. These must have been some very hastily made remarks--think before you speak no matter how rich you are. It also doesn't help that the article implied he recommends a Microsoft "Ultra-Mobile" laptop instead (costing 6 to 10 times more).

Re:Urge to Kill .... (1)

obidonn (590065) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933374)

A vaccination is not a temporary solution that makes you dependent on someone else for the rest of your life. And between being immune to a disease or getting a $100 laptop, I'd go for being immune to the disease.

What is this "Magical Vaccine" you speak of? (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933501)

A vaccination is not a temporary solution that makes you dependent on someone else for the rest of your life. And between being immune to a disease or getting a $100 laptop, I'd go for being immune to the disease.
By all means, enlighten us to this "cure all" vaccine. I would also like one.

Problem is that there are several vaccines. I myself remember getting tons of them for hepatitis and influenza in high school. Oh, that's right, the flu has many forms and flu shots are administered yearly. Oh, and for the major forms of hepatitis (when administered properly) it's is a series of shots done over years.

Wow, vaccines aren't as simple as we think!

Pull your head out of your ass. As an American, I can look at our countries vaccine consumption and even I recognize that our infrastructure isn't up to snuff with providing vaccines. If a smallpox vaccine is cheap, why hasn't it been administered to all healthy adults that have little to no risks? Why have I only had one flu shot? Why do they make such a huge deal about flu vaccine shortages on the news?

Providing vaccines to poor people is an ongoing process. They will always be reproducing. There will always be new viruses. They will therefore always need me. What if I gave them an education and they either figured out ways to earn money to outsource it or figured out how to develop vaccines themselves? That's a long way away but we need to start them on the right path.

Re:Urge to Kill .... (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933409)

It seems like Gates is walking up to someone who desperately needs just basic transportation and telling them that a $1,000 junker isn't what they need. They need a high performance Dodge Viper with a personal mechanic to maintain it. Broadband connection? Why? I thought I read that these $100 laptops were going to have radio frequency repeaters so that information could be sent from laptop to laptop and act as routers for each other.

The key thing to understand about Bill Gates is that he isn't a technologist. Sure, the general populace believes that he's the smartest man in the world, but the truth is that he has absolutely no vision what-so-ever. If you read his books (e.g. The Road Ahead), he proposes mostly fanciful ideas that might have come out of a SciFi article from 30 years ago. Actual concepts about why his ideas are useful, the reasons why the implementation will work, etc. are all missing from his books.

What people need to realize is that Bill Gates is a ruthless business man who knows how to be in the right place at the right time. He made his entire fortune by embracing other people's ideas and extending them to be successful in the market. Everything from the Altair port of BASIC, to purchasing a CP/M ripoff to sell IBM as DOS, to announcing a non-existant "Windows" to compete with VisiOn, to cheating Spyglass out of a web browser to compete with Netscape. He doesn't know what will work until someone else shows him how. Then, and only then, does he make sure he nails the market before anyone else does.

Don't listen to Bill Gates. He has nothing useful or insightful to say. And I sincerely doubt that most people here really want to follow in his footsteps, even if it does mean becoming one of the richest men in the world.

Re:Urge to Kill .... (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933425)

Agreed. Gate's relies on dependence. He's no different than a drug dealer, he's just legal. He has no real concern for innovation or furthering technology. This is precisely why his products are more flashy than dependable. Damn! This horse is just a pile of batted meat now, eh?

Re:Urge to Kill .... (1)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933489)

proposes a solution where we need to put people to support the product, thereby charging money indefinitely.

Well, no. What he actually said was...
have somebody there who can help support the user
...which isn't the same thing at all, and makes quite a bit more sense. While the rest of the town/village/tribe is learning basic computer skills, someone from that group who took to the technology quickly could be taught to function as support. Help from within as opposed to without, and all that.
That having been said, I really have to question the accuracy of this article. How often do you see somone quoted as saying "geez" in the middle of a business story? The whole thing seems a bit suspect to me.

he's so charitable. (1)

macsox (236590) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933272)

maybe you attach a malarial vaccinator on a usb port and he'll be happy. or add a full-price copy of vista.

One last suggestion... (1)

matr0x_x (919985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933283)

May as well fit the computer with some "tried and true" *cough* Microsoft Windows *cough* software while you're at it...

What did you expect (4, Insightful)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933292)

Gates was never a real visionary. Excellent business man right from the very beginning but he never really had the visionary spirit. It brings up the debated comment about memory, it is dumb to most people, but really it isnt that dumb of a comment, just a lack of vision in what could come next. He knows business, not technology, he just happens to be in the tech business. He could have just as easily been in a different business and been very successful

Of course he's mocking the idea (4, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933297)

They're running Linux on these things aren't they? No market share for Microsoft.

Gates has valid points, but they're overshadowed by his oafishness. And it's really strange given the amount of money he pours into Africa every year. Bizarre.

For real (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933300)

For real. I mean, why hand-crank those things? Why don't they just plug them into the power outlets in the wall? I see about 6 or 7 outlets from where I'm sitting. I would assume that everyone everywhere else in the world has the exact same resources available to them that I do...

No Kidding (5, Funny)

KarateExplosions (959215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933378)

If these people are so damned impoverished, why don't they get off their lazy asses and go to the ATM machine and withdraw $200 in twenty dollar bills? And these children are starving to death? Here's an idea for them: Go to McDonalds and order a Double Quarater Pounder Extra Value Meal. That's, like, a half pound of meat. And as for these kids needing computers, I think it's high time they pulled themselves up by the bootstraps, went to newegg, and built a decent computer for around $500. Jesus, how else are they going to manage their stock portfolios?

Said Gates... (4, Funny)

bcarl314 (804900) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933310)

'...geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type,' Gates said.'

You forgot to add "from his Windows CE powered PDA IM message"

Dear Bill, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933313)

If you're going to supply an OS, geez, supply one where file access rights aren't going to be managed by third party corporations.

Gates is right.. to a degree (2, Interesting)

cybrthng (22291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933315)

You don't solve the problem of 3rd world technology and computing by dumbing it down and providing a tool that does a few things. You go in and build infrastructure, support the communities and develop them from the ground up.

The future of computing isn't wind up "puters" that can send email, it's rich clients, broadband and infrastructure. For the cost of R&D, support, delivery and maintenance on these you could easily give these countries wireless broadband infrastructure, jobs and start building up economies and getting "real" services in instead of giving them a bone and hoping they're happy with it.

i could go to toys r us and buy toys more powerful and less costly than these wind up devices.

good idea.. i guess so for what they're trying to do but it seems like a horrible waste of talent to dumb things down because we don't want to help these countries get where they need to be but find some way to make money off them and hope they enjoy a dumbed down device.

Re:Gates is right.. to a degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933516)

Oooh sure create and support a broadband infrastructure in a country that is always at war. Yeah great idea lets send in all those engineers to lay down fibre and wireless towers everywhere so they can be destroyed. Then lets go in and put up hundreds of powerplants and run the necessary wiring to make sure everyone has 3 Phase 200 amp power going to there huts. Only to watch the local warlords take control of the plants or destroy them. Freakin' hammerhead. I take it you have NEVER been to Africa have you?

Digg efect... (0, Offtopic)

xtracto (837672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933324)

Darn, the last 5 stories in the homepage come straight from digg uhuhhuh!

Next:
100MHz Nintendo DS
1 Terabyte of Solid State Hard Drive Space!!
British Survey: Linux Gaining Ground on Windows
Possible Earthquake Predictor Invented

-5, Sad but true

What a jackass... (2, Insightful)

kotj.mf (645325) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933326)

FTFA:

"The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen," Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in suburban Washington.

...

Before his critique, Gates showed off a new "ultra-mobile computer" which runs Microsoft Windows on a seven-inch (17.78-centimeter) touch screen.

Those machines are expected to sell for between $599 and $999, Microsoft said at the product launch last week.

Indeed. I mean, how are poor, illiterate masses supposed to install Office (tm) on those things? Or run Windows Media Player(tm)?

Clearly, since the only reason for anybody to use a computer is to provide a justification for spending money on Microsoft products, the sub-$100 idea is just goofy.

So it is a good idea then? (4, Interesting)

db32 (862117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933327)

It seems that almost all of the technology that Gates has mocked has come back and bit him on the ass. We all know that the Internet is just a fad, noone needs that much memory, and so on. While some of the claims to quotes are questionable, the pattern still exists. He mocks alot of things he didn't come up with first. I fail to understand the hero worship this asshat gets from the general populace. They assume he is some kind of computer genious. He really is little more than a very good business man/thief.

"And let them eat cake!" (1)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933331)

...he added, noting that many starving children would prefer a fine confection to gruel and cold milk.

Hmmm (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933334)

Wasn't he reluctant to offer Windows in a scaled-down version for developing countries? Now he's slamming someone's efforts to help spread technology. You'd think he'd be big enough to say, "More power to them. This is good no matter who's doing it." Ah, but it's not him and he's not profitting from it. So much for his big heart.

Gates the philanthropist (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933340)

Sheesh, can he be any more arrogant? Most of the areas that they are targeting for these laptops don't have electricity and running water.
So Bill, what are you going to do to improve the situation?

this proofs (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933349)

being rich does not make you understand others.

Microsoft proposal? (1)

darteaga (806257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933351)

From TFA:
"Before his critique, Gates showed off a new "ultra-mobile computer" which runs Microsoft Windows on a seven-inch (17.78-centimeter) touch screen. Those machines are expected to sell for between $599 and $999, Microsoft said at the product launch last week."
Does Bill think that their Windows-powered $600-$1000 machines are a better alternative than the $100 MIT laptop? Of course, they are a better alternative for Bill's company... but are they a better alternative for the developing countries?

M$ can't make money at $100 price point (1)

metoc (224422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933369)

With a $100 price point about the only thing Microsoft has is the Windows CE runtime license. That leaves little room for $$$ applications, etc., and definitely not the Office cash cow, Windows, or the perpetual upgrades & licenses that goes with them.

The only real way to make a useable $100 computer (decent display & keyboard, and network connectivity) and have usable apps (browser, e-mail, spreadsheet and wordprocessor) is to use good quality, inexpensive components. Open source fits the bill, and that leaves Microsoft out in the cold.

Shared computer? (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933371)

How does one computer per child imply sharing the computers? Why would they need a network? I actually don't think computers belong in the classroom in most cases (Architecture and CAD classes aside). MS is using our public schools as a training ground for MS Office.

One teacher told me the kids were required to submit their history reports in MS Word format, with requirements to use X pieces of clipart and a number of other "features". It's history class, not MS training - using MS products effectively should not be part of the grade. Submitting it hand-written on paper should be good enough. BTW, the teacher was complaining to me - not supporting this silly stuff, but she was told they had to do it.

All of you can shut the fuck up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933395)

When you've contributed as much to charity as Gates has, you can open your mouths. Until then, shut the fuck up. He's criticising ONE PRODUCT that will probably never make much of a difference anywhere. It's his OPINION. I guess he's not allowed to have one that differs from yours, though.

Viewpoint Slightly Skewed??? (1)

Paco Bedejo (740529) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933413)

So...do you think that when you have BILLIONS of dollars...you MIGHT not understand the huge benefit of a $100 Computing Platform that has a hand powered generator? Bill Gates has officially moved into the realm of "Rich/Powerful guys that don't know WTF is going on around them". Anyhow... I'm highly encouraged by the $100 laptop & think it will be a huge benefit to the world. Is it the best hardware choice for kids that get to ride to headstart in a HUMMER H2? No. Is it a great choice for families that live in Mobile Homes & Dirt Huts? Yes. Will Scottsdale Arizona benefit much? No. Will millions of these laptops be donated to schools & communities around the world? Yes. 3 Words Billy: GET A CLUE

He's jealous as hell. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933418)

I gather he's really pissed that they chose Linux and not Windows to run on it, and even offered windows for free.

Clue alert? (1)

NorbrookC (674063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933420)

FTA: and with a tiny little screen," is one of his criticisms. Yet... also FTA: "Gates showed off a new "ultra-mobile computer" which runs Microsoft Windows on a seven-inch (17.78-centimeter) touch screen."

Let's see: His criticism of the 100 dollar laptop is that it has a small screen, which point he makes right after demonstrating a computer with a small screen.

Hello? Bill? Clue?

Muffin Stumps (1)

dvdsmith (892766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933429)

I'm not normally one to defend Bill Gates, but in this case its I feel I need to. For those who remember the Seinfeld episode, poor people don't want Muffin Stumps.

see http://www.michaelrobertson.com/archive.php?minute _id=170 [michaelrobertson.com] for an explanation.

Whats the point of having a "PC" if it can't perform to the level an average user would expect. Tell you what, I'm gonna create car for the poor. The catch is, to make it cheap enough it only goes 20mph (yes I'm in the state :) ) and runs on urine. Guess you'll be drinking a LOT of water.

He's afraid of Linux (1)

batray (257663) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933432)

Imagane a generation of children brought up using Linux, not Windows. That is his worst nightmare.

Let them eat cake! (1)

Helmholtz (2715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933437)

When Marie Antoinette was told that the serfs didn't have any bread to eat, her response was "so, let them eat cake!". This wasn't supposed to be some sadistic afluent sneer against the poor and unwashed masses, but rather, her standard of living was so disconnected that from her perspective, if there wasn't bread to eat, then you could just have cake instead. To someone in such a position, the concept of starvation was very foreign.

I think the same thing might be said here. I have a hard time believing that Bill Gates can have any concept of what life is like for the extremely underprivileged, and consequently how he can have any relevant ideas on providing computer access to these same people.

I remember years ago, when 56K modems were the "speed kings" and the internet was heavy into its "boom" phase, I was having a conversation about the whole "internet phenomenon" with a favorite college professor of mine who was from Kenya. It was a very sobering moment when he said that where he came from it was considered a high luxury to have a telephone, much less a computer, or a "broadband connection". And he wasn't from the poorer regions of Kenya.

So while the concept of a "hand cranked computer with a small screen" might seem silly to people who have a "standard of computer living" that is very high, it's very likely that such a system is the very bread that is needed and can be sustainably incorporated into the culture. And to suggest big monitors and broadband is not much different than suggesting that these same groups, when they run out of bread, that they should just eat cake.

Just my 2c.

Obligatory Origami Reference (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933446)

'The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen,' Gates said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in suburban Washington.

How big is the screen on Origami [slashdot.org]?

They will not run windows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14933450)

"big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support." I guess he is talking from the Windows user experience...
Senor Gates: these computers will not use any licensed software.

A computer in every home? (1)

Roadmaster (96317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933455)

Oh, so it's ok for Bill to dream of a computer in every home when it's his software that's going to be on them, but it's wrong when someone else tries putting "a computer on every kid's lap" because he had nothing to do with it.

I think he forgot when HE learned how to use a computer, the things didn't even have displays, so why complain about a computer that's 1000 times more powerful than anything he used when a teenager?

And he might be a philantropist and yadda yadda, but he's into welfare and not into really helping people improve themselves. Helping them survive is one thing; helping them learn and thrive is another very different one. Let's see Bill donate several million computers *without* ties to MSFT software and then I'll believe he's really concerned about the MIT computer being a fiasco.

Give a kid medicine and he'll live to starve tomorrrow; show him how to use a computer and he'll be able to live decently for the rest of his life.

Disingenuous arguments (1)

Diomidis Spinellis (661697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933477)

Either Gates doesn't know what the project is about, or he pretends he doesn't. Gates said:
"The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk ... and with a tiny little screen,"
However, the $100 laptop is not a shared computer. In fact, the goal of each child having ITS OWN computer is an explicit goal of the project [laptop.org].
Why is it important for each child to have a computer? What's wrong with community-access centers?
One does not think of community pencils--kids have their own. They are tools to think with, sufficiently inexpensive to be used for work and play, drawing, writing, and mathematics. A computer can be the same, but far more powerful. Furthermore, there are many reasons it is important for a child to own something--like a football, doll, or book--not the least of which being that these belongings will be well-maintained through love and care.

Gates also said that big costs come from network connectivity, applications and support. The argument that applications are more expensive than hardware is similarly disingenious: if you pay Microsoft their extortionate retail prices, yes applications are expensive. The same goes for support: paid support is expensive, community-based support is cheap.

Programming? (1)

Obi-w00t (943426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933499)

Will these machines have some kind of programming environments on them? If people can learn languages that the computer industry value they can become useful workers. Companies could employ programmers from these poorer areas and the promise of a better life could push students to work as hard as they can in these subjects.

bill melinda called. (2, Interesting)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933513)

seriously melinda isn't going to be happy with him
she spends all that time trying to make him a decent human being and he throws it back.

you know what would have had wow factor if instead of mocking this project he put some money into it.

so what if it doesnt run windows surely there's no need to assimulate or destroy everything.

now that would have been good publicity and maybe improve microsofts image.

wonder what mr jobs take is on the 100 dollar laptop..

Bill Gates is now officially a bitch (5, Informative)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14933520)

Gates is just spreading the usual FUD. He seems to "misinterpret" the simple facts and spins till they're dizzy.

Shared: It's "One Laptop per Child"; no sharing.

Diskless: The machine has peer-to-peer networking built in; disks would be slower.

Tiny screen: It's a bigger screen than my PocketPC. And I bet 6 of those screens are bigger than his 6x more expensive "alternative".

Network cost: It's got builtin wireless networking; no network expenses needed.

Application cost: That's why they didn't choose Windows.

Support cost: It's a total package; if it's broken in either HW or SW, replace the entire machine and fix the broken one centralized.

Broadband connection: Because these educational systems are meant to be used for downloading the latest movies? Besides, the wireless network will probably be a lot faster than the 56k6 modems a lot of people are still using.

Reading what you type: That's where the dual-mode LCD screen comes in; something a "decent computer" hasn't got...

Crank: ...and being able to actually power it without an outlet would help readability too. The crank is only one of several ways to provide power, it can also get powered just like a "decent computer".

I think that debunks all of Gates' lies.
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