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technology Skeptics

Every time something new happens on the stairs. Skeptics join. Development opponents. Those who see problems before the solutions.


As in last week's edition of Ny Tid. The post in the New Times section, "Revolution with a crank", is about how even the world's poor children can now get the chance to use a PC and the internet. The American IT professor Nicholas Negroponte and Linux aim to be able to offer millions of children and young people in Africa and Asia green, power-producing laptops that do not cost more than 100 dollars. The motto is "One Laptop per child". While the microprocessor manufacturer Intel is betting on a full-fledged PC for $ 300 under the motto "World Ahead".

The billionaire effort can bring a schoolgirl in Nigeria online during the year. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who chaired a press conference with Negroponte, believes that the revolutionary project is an "expression of global solidarity". In it 21. century it is a human right to be able to get online. What will PC-solving children in Nigeria and India say about being able to surf the world?

Probably not the same as Norwegian scientists and African experts. For them, they are skeptical, as in most cases where new technology is introduced:

"There are many reasons why radio is, and will continue to be, the most important medium in Africa… it requires training and maintenance, stable access to power networks and telecommunications networks," says research fellow Kristin Skare Orgeret at the Department of Media and Communication.

Exactly. While the rest of the world is surfing the web, Africans are allowed to stick to the radio from the 1950 century. Training and maintenance are such things that they do not understand. And of course, the development of power and telecommunications networks will not explode if more people got something interesting to use the network access.

So the fellow is right. Radio – which is noticeably undeveloped in relation to the new multimedia – will unfortunately also affect Africa in the future. The credit goes not to innovative PC makers, but to conservative forces calling for a halt when new technology ideas can help the poor.

Media professor Helge Rønning also warned last week against investing in low-cost machines: "Thinking about solving development problems with distributing computers is somewhat reminiscent of technology fetishism. Communication is not a tool, it is a process, ”says Rønning.

Exactly. So when you surf daily using your PC, your computer is not a tool or a technological invention, but just part of a process.

This is how it can go when skepticism of fetishism prevails. While fears of new technology attempts as usual characterize the Norwegian word shift, African youth are trying to stay as up to date as possible. If you have something you want to tell them, just broadcast it over the longwave band.

Dag Herbjørnsrud
Dag Herbjørnsrud
Former editor of MODERN TIMES. Now head of the Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas.

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