Intel Chairman Touts Tech/Education for Developing Countries

Tiernan Ray recently covered Intel Craig Barret’s ideas on using tech to benefit developing countries.

“There are more Internet users in China than there are people in the U.S.,” Barrett notes, “And more cell phone users in South Africa than in the U.S.” But it won’t matter, he says, if the world doesn’t address inequities, starting with education. “If someone asked me what’s the most important technology you could put in the classroom, I would say, a really good teacher,” says Barrett. He brings onstage executives from NetHope, which is coordinating IT for developing countries, including Kenya, and Save the Children, which is working on getting Intel Classmate PCs into classrooms in Bangladesh.

To get people involved, he says, Intel has started a Web site —

It’s a little confusing as to what this press conference was intended to be about but judging by the tone of Tiernan’s article, he was disappointed. The comments are also a bit harsh. Still, the things Craig Barret took the time to highlight are interesting. He talked about TWX’s (the Time Warner interactive division) use of video games to encourage responsible sexual practices and other safe behavior. The game features very modern graphics (something you’d expect out of any video game), characters of ethnicities that reflect local populations and local music. He also discussed a project in Southern India where Intel helped to outfit a bus with computers. So as to go through villages to schools, to give the students an hour to work with computers while sitting in the bus.

But to achieve even a small thing, you need “star power” says Barrett. So, he proposes to bring out the lead singer of pop band Maroon 5. (Ask me if I care.) The young man pops up onstage, and there’s a brief, meandering discussion of social responsibility, followed by yet another video.

“We’re trying to give every child in the world hope and opportunity,” says Barrett. He’s bringing out the lead singer of Counting Crows. (Who is not going to say anything about the Atom chip, I believe.) He gives a thoughtful speech about the importance of Kiva and Save the Children working to improve education, to give children a feeling that they matter, which will lead to change in developing societies.

As I mentioned, Tiernan’s tone is harsh but mostly because he was expecting news about Intel’s new Atom series.

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About the author: Jonathan Gosier is a UI designer, software developer and writer. He currently lives in Kampala, Uganda where he incubates and invests in East African entrepreneurs as the CEO of Appfrica Labs. He's also a TED Fellow.
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