Chip manufacturers AMD and Intel have both used the recent World Congress on Information Technology to announce wide-reaching initiatives to use technology to help those in developing nations.
Intel committed more than £500m to fund its five-year World Ahead Programme, and unveiled a new low-cost notebook, Eduwise, designed for poorer countries. Hector Ruiz, AMD’s chief executive, challenged the IT industry to address what he called “the world’s most pressing problems”, which included energy conservation, healthcare and digital connectivity.
“It is incumbent upon the IT leaders of the world to help effect positive change in our global community,” Ruiz said. “By using proven and sound business principles to drive social and economic development in high-growth markets, our industry can be socially responsible and profitable.”
Ruiz highlighted the progress of AMD’s 50x15 initiative, which aims to provide half of the world’s population with affordable internet access by 2015.
Paul Otellini, Intel’s chief executive, claimed that the combined effects of computers, the internet and education could double the reach of technology’s worldwide benefit in the next five years.
“Moore’s Law and volume economics have made PC technology broadly accessible, and [Intel co-founder] Andy Grove understood the tremendous additive force of the internet,” Otellini said. “But this power is still out of reach for most of the world’s people. The World Ahead Programme, which integrates Intel’s efforts in accessibility, connectivity and education, seeks a multiplier effect to accelerate the next wave of gains.”
Intel announced that it would be giving its new Eduwise notebooks to Mexican students, as well as providing low-cost PCs to 300,000 teachers. The company has also committed to provide IT training for more than 400,000 teachers in Mexico.
Intel’s programme and the £200 Eduwise notebook bears more than a passing resemblance to the One Laptop Per Child initiative and low-cost notebook developed by the head of MIT, Nicholas Negroponte. The £100 MIT laptop, which Intel has dismissed as a ‘gadget’, will be powered by a 500MHz AMD processor, have a 7in screen and an internal radio for Wi-Fi networking.
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