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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Optimism and Humanity

   
Author Topic: Optimism and Humanity
AchillesHeel
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Below is a link to a really uplifting article about a non-profit that provides educational technology to third world children, many of whom live in areas with almost zero literacy rates. They left roughly one thousand solar-charging tablets with custom programming and sd cards that relay information back to the researchers in a sealed box with no explanation and no instructions outside an Ethiopian village. Just a box with computers in it. Five months later the children have hacked the tablets to activate the camera function that was unintentionally locked out. They are learning not only how to read, but how to learn at the semi-modern level.

Humans are amazing.

Reading the article and seeing a really tangible hope for people everywhere made me happy, I wanted to share it with the discussion board. It got me thinking though, why not just have a thread in which we share great things that are happening around the world? Amazing sciences that are being rewritten daily? Surely that seems more interesting than perpetuating the same old arguments.

So here is a nudge to get you to share something you have found to wonderful about our future.

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Raymond Arnold
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I've learned to be rather cautious about this kind of optimism... but yes this sounds really cool. I hope this pans out.
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Samprimary
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"Within two years, they were running 419 money-wiring scams on the retirement savings of american seniors, with a newly formed cartel taking cuts from all the tablet operators.."
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Samprimary
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In actuality I am generally positive about the potential for improvement in that region of the world.
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Destineer
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Something really rings false about this story. They left the boxes taped shut outside? How did they know the kids would get them, and not the adults in the village (which seems more likely)? They weren't worried about the boxes getting randomly rained on and ruining all those thousands of tablets?

The guy's facetious "I thought the kids would play with the boxes!" line bugs me as well.

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Stephan
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I really question the validity of that article.

I am taking a graduate class right now called Integration of Technology: Global Perspective. I recently used this NPR story in a short assignment I completed.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129259179

quote:
There is no hard data on whether OLPC works, so it's a risky and costly experiment for Rwanda. Skeptics ask why Rwanda should spend so much money on the laptops when its schools lack electricity and teachers often earn less than a hundred dollars a month.


quote:
At $181 each, the laptops are incredibly valuable in a country where the average annual salary is less than $400. Teachers and parents both fear that they will be responsible if the laptops get lost.


quote:
And, of course, they play games. In another corner of the room, a couple of boys are playing the 1993 game "Doom," which they got, thanks to free wireless at the airport. And that raises one big question about the laptops. How do you control kids' use of them? Parents have told teachers that they don't want the laptops at home because of the distractions they cause.



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Stephan
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http://www.technologyreview.com/news/506466/given-tablets-but-no-teachers-ethiopian-children-teach-themselves/ Is the original MIT article.

“Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.”

Dvice got the story a little wrong.

Sounds a little more believable when I read this.

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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Stephan:
There is no hard data on whether OLPC works, so it's a risky and costly experiment for Rwanda. Skeptics ask why Rwanda should spend so much money on the laptops when its schools lack electricity and teachers often earn less than a hundred dollars a month.

Totally. Get these kids' families some bed nets for malaria or something. That'll actually help them out, guaranteed, and all without costing a billion bucks.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
quote:
Originally posted by Stephan:
There is no hard data on whether OLPC works, so it's a risky and costly experiment for Rwanda. Skeptics ask why Rwanda should spend so much money on the laptops when its schools lack electricity and teachers often earn less than a hundred dollars a month.

Totally. Get these kids' families some bed nets for malaria or something. That'll actually help them out, guaranteed, and all without costing a billion bucks.
That's not exciting in a way that makes for a nerdy feelgood story for rich people a continent away.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
quote:
Originally posted by Stephan:
There is no hard data on whether OLPC works, so it's a risky and costly experiment for Rwanda. Skeptics ask why Rwanda should spend so much money on the laptops when its schools lack electricity and teachers often earn less than a hundred dollars a month.

Totally. Get these kids' families some bed nets for malaria or something. That'll actually help them out, guaranteed, and all without costing a billion bucks.
Or some freaking DDT.
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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Or some freaking DDT.

Exactly.

Sam: [ROFL]

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iglee
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AchillesHeel, you said “. . . a thread in which we share great things that are happening around the world? Amazing sciences that are being rewritten daily?”

Well, this isn’t amazing science but it is still a pretty good thing that is happening. There are, no doubt, many other things other people are doing to help others. And I’d like to hear about them. I’m just most familiar with this one: The LDS Church’s Perpetual Education Fund (link below). It’s not huge when compared with the total population of the earth and the total numbers of people who need help, but it is helping some people. And they, in turn, may be in a better position to serve in their own countries. We have had this going for over 11 years now and it is growing.

http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/61195/Celebrating-10-years-of-the-Perpetual-Education-Fund.html

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