Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles I've been at MIT for 44 years. I went to TED I. There's only one other person here, I think, who did that. All the other TEDs -- and I went to them all, under Ricky's regime -- I talked about what the Media Lab was doing, which today has almost 500 people in it. And if you read the press, last week it actually said I quit the Media Lab. I didn't quit the Media Lab, I stepped down as chairman -- which was a kind of ridiculous title, but someone else has taken it on -- and one of the things you can do as a professor is you stay on as a professor. And I will now do for the rest of my life the One Laptop Per Child, which I've sort of been doing for a year and a half, anyway. So I'm going to tell you about this, use my 18 minutes to tell you why we're doing it, how we're doing it and then what we're doing. And at some point I'll even pass around what the $100 laptop might be like. I was asked by Chris to talk about some of the big issues, and so I figured I'd start with the three that at least drove me to do this. And the first is pretty obvious. It's amazing when you meet a head of state, and you say, "What is your most precious natural resource?" They will not say "children" at first, and then when you say, "children," they will pretty quickly agree with you. And so that isn't very hard. (Laughter) Everybody agrees that whatever the solutions are to the big problems, they include education, sometimes can be just education and can never be without some element of education. So that's certainly part of it. And the third is a little bit less obvious. And that is that we all in this room learned how to walk, how to talk, not by being taught how to talk, or taught how to walk, but by interacting with the world, by having certain results as a consequence of being able to ask for something, or being able to stand up and reach it. Whereas at about the age six, we were told to stop learning that way, and that all learning from then on would happen through teaching, whether it's people standing up, like I'm doing now, or a book, or something. But it was really through teaching. And one of the things in general that computers have provided to learning is that it now includes a kind of learning which is a little bit more like walking and talking, in the sense that a lot of it is driven by the learner himself or herself. So with those as the principles -- some of you may know Seymour Papert. This is back in 1982, when we were working in Senegal. Because some people think that the $100 laptop just happened a year ago, or two years ago, or we were struck by lightning -- this actually has gone back a long time, and in fact, back to the '60s. Here we're in the '80s. Steve Jobs had given us some laptops. We were in Senegal. It didn't scale but it at least was bringing computers to developing countries and learning pretty quickly that these kids, even though English wasn't their language, the Latin alphabet barely was their language, but they could just swim like fish. They could play these like pianos. A little bit more recently, I got involved personally. And these are two anecdotes -- one was in Cambodia, in a village that has no electricity, no water, no television, no telephone, but has broadband Internet now. And these kids, their first English word is "Google" and they only know Skype. They've never heard of telephony. They just use Skype. And they go home at night -- they've got a broadband connection in a hut that doesn't have electricity. The parents love it, because when they open up the laptops, it's the brightest light source in the house. And talk about where metaphors and reality mix -- this is the actual school. In parallel with this, Seymour Papert got the governor of Maine to legislate one laptop per child in the year 2002. Now at the time, I think it's fair to say that 80 percent of the teachers were -- let me say, apprehensive. Really, they were actually against it. And they really preferred that the money would be used for higher salaries, more schools, whatever. And now, three and a half years later, guess what? They're reporting five things: drop of truancy to almost zero, attending parent-teacher meetings -- which nobody did and now almost everybody does -- drop in discipline problems, increase in student participation. Teachers are now saying it's kind of fun to teach. Kids are engaged -- they have laptops! -- and then the fifth, which interests me the most, is that the servers have to be turned off at certain times at night because the teachers are getting too much email from the kids asking them for help. So when you see that kind of thing -- this is not something that you have to test. The days of pilot projects are over, when people say, "We'd like to do three or four thousand in our country to see how it works." Screw you. Go to the back of the line and someone else will do it, and then when you figure out that this works, you can join as well. And this is what we're doing. (Laughter) (Applause) So, One Laptop Per Child was formed about a year and a half ago. It's a nonprofit association. It raised about 20 million dollars to do the engineering to just get this built, and then have it produced afterwards. Scale is truly important. And it's not important because you can buy components at a lower price, OK? It's because you can go to a manufacturer -- and I will leave the name out -- but we wanted a small display, doesn't have to have perfect color uniformity. It can even have a pixel or two missing. It doesn't have to be that bright. And this particular manufacturer said, "We're not interested in that. We're interested in the living room. We're interested in perfect color uniformity. We're interested in big displays, bright displays. You're not part of our strategic plan." And I said, "That's kind of too bad, because we need 100 million units a year." (Laughter) And they said, "Oh, well, maybe we could become part of your strategic plan." And that's why scale counts. And that's why we will not launch this without five to 10 million units in the first run. And the idea is to launch with enough scale that the scale itself helps bring the price down, and that's why I said seven to 10 million there. And we're doing it without a sales-and-marketing team. I mean, you're looking at the sales-and-marketing team. We will do it by going to seven large countries and getting them to agree and launch it, and then the others can follow. We have partners. It's not hard to guess Google would be one. The others are all playing to pending. And this has been in the press a great deal. It's the so-called Green Machine that we introduced with Kofi Annan in November at the World Summit that was held in Tunisia. Now once people start looking at this, they say, "Ah, this is a laptop project." Well, no, it's not a laptop project. It's an education project. And the fun part -- and I'm quite focused on it -- I tell people I used to be a light bulb, but now I'm a laser -- I'm just going to get that thing built, and it turns out it's not so hard. Because laptop economics are the following: I say 50 percent here -- it's more like 60, 60 percent of the cost of your laptop is sales, marketing, distribution and profit. Now we have none of those, OK? None of those figure into our cost, because first of all, we sell it at cost, and the governments distribute it. It gets distributed to the school system like a textbook. So that piece disappears. Then you have display and everything else. Now the display on your laptop costs, in rough numbers, 10 dollars a diagonal inch. That can drop to eight; it can drop to seven but it's not going to drop to two, or to one and a half, unless we do some pretty clever things. It's the rest -- that little brown box -- that is pretty fascinating, because the rest of your laptop is devoted to itself. It's a little bit like an obese person having to use most of their energy to move their obesity. (Laughter) And we have a situation today which is incredible. I've been using laptops since their inception. And my laptop runs slower, less reliably and less pleasantly than it ever has before. And this year is worse. (Applause) People clap, sometimes you even get standing ovations, and I say, "What the hell's wrong with you? Why are we all sitting there?" And somebody -- to remain nameless -- called our laptop a "gadget" recently. And I said, "God, our laptop's going to go like a bat out of hell. When you open it up, it's going to go 'bing.'" It'll be on. It'll be just like it was in 1985, when you bought an Apple Macintosh 512. It worked really well. And we've been going steadily downhill. Now, people ask all the time what it is. That's what it is. The two pieces that are probably notable: it'll be a mesh network, so when the kids open up their laptops, they all become a network, and then just need one or two points of backhaul. You can serve a couple of thousand kids with two megabits. So you really can bring into a village, and then the villages can connect themselves, and you really can do it quite well. The dual mode display -- the idea is to have a display that both works outdoors -- isn't it fun using your cell phone outdoors in the sunlight? Well, you can't see it. And one of the reasons you can't see it is because it's backlighting most of the time, most cell phones. Now, what we're doing is, we're doing one that will be both frontlit and backlit. And whether you manually switch it or you do it in the software is to be seen. But when it's backlit, it's color. And when it's frontlit, it's black and white at three times the resolution. Is it all worked out? No. That's why a lot of our people are more or less living in Taiwan right now. And in about 30 days, we'll know for sure whether this works. Probably the most important piece there is that the kids really can do the maintenance. And this is again something that people don't believe, but I really think it's quite true. That's the machine we showed in Tunis. This is more the direction that we're going to go. And it's something that we didn't think was possible. Now, I'm going to pass this around. This isn't a design, OK? So this is just a mechanical engineering sort of embodiment of it for you to play with. And it's clearly just a model. The working one is at MIT. I'm going to pass it to this handsome gentleman. At least you can decide whether it goes left or -- Chris Anderson: Before you do it, for the people down in simulcast -- Nicholas Negroponte: Sorry! I forgot. CA: Just show it off a bit. So wherever the camera is -- OK, good point. Thank you, Chris. The idea was that it would be not only a laptop, but that it could transform into an electronic book. So it's sort of an electronic book. This is where when you go outside, it's in black and white. The games buttons are missing, but it'll also be a games machine, book machine. Set it up this way, and it's a television set. Etc., etc. -- is that enough for simulcast? OK, sorry. I'll let Jim decide which way to send it afterwards. OK. Seven countries. (Laughter) I say "maybe" for Massachusetts, because they actually have to do a bid. By law you've got to bid, and so on and so forth. So I can't quite name them. In the other cases, they don't have to do bids. They can decide -- it's the federal government in each case. It's kind of agonizing, because a lot of people say, "Let's do it at the state level," because states are more nimble than the feds, just because of size. And yet we count. We're really dealing with the federal government. We're really dealing with ministries of education.