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The Downside of the $100 Laptop

| Monday December 19th, 2005 | 5 Comments

100lap.gifI’ve sung a lot of praise for the so-called “$100 Laptop” project spearheaded by MIT – the idea is to produce a simple laptop that can be sold in bulk to developing countries for about $100 each, then distributed to kids in schools. By all accounts, it’s an amazing idea, and an amazing example of leapfrog technology and inspiration.
However, at the risk of raining on the parade, there are possible downsides which do not seem to be getting much attention. EWasteInsights has a great piece on the most obvious one: a lack of discussion on how to dispose of the laptops at the end of their lives. Indeed, it’s strange that little mention is made about the potential “e-waste” problem a massive distribution of laptops presents, particularly in countries with poor waste handling infrastructure. Has disposal/reuse been worked into the design at all? It seems picky to bring this up, but with the incredible level of innovation that has gone into it, it’s disappointing to see no mention of the machine’s longevity or post-use possibilities. It’s a perfect chance to help kids leap frog into new technologies, but it’s also a great chance to demonstrate the principals of sustainable design, which are every bit in keeping with the project’s philosophy.


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  • http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/003881.html WorldChanging: Another World Is Here

    How Much E-Waste Per Child?

    The One Laptop Per Child proposal (aka, the Hundred-Dollar Laptop) generates controversy nearly every time it’s mentioned here, whether due to questions about its necessity,…

  • Tamon

    I appreciate your concerns, but as come to think of it, every single project you can think of has contrary consequences, come on, if we can live with Nuclear power stations and their contrary consequences, then we sure can live with this. Just think of it this way, the kids this laptop empowers will grow up and have a chance to find solutions to any problems it brought. Kudos to Negropointe

  • http://www.greendiary.com/entry/one-laptop-per-child-may-lead-to-e-waste-explosion/ Environment Blog

  • http://www.ilovemybaby.org/entry/100-laptop-or-that-tech-toy-post-use-possibilities/ Parenting Blog

    $100 Laptop or that Tech-Toy : Post Use Possibilities…??

    Do you remember the $100 Laptop, the project spearheaded by MIT?

  • Segun

    I will like my students in secondary schools in my satae in Nigeria to benefit from the programme. How can we go about it?

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