Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • 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.