Reconfigured Devices to Narrow International Digital Divide
SALZBURG, AustriaIn a bold use of technology to narrow the digital divide, business leaders in the World Economic Forum (WEF) have begun working on a plan to distribute at least 100,000 high-capacity computer game consoles equipped with satellite links to schools and in homes in Third World nations. “With all the businesses of the world together we can link all of the poor countries, the schools, hospitals and health clinics of the poor countries and get them all on the ‘Net. That helps enormously, for example, in sending information about AIDS,” says John Gage, one of the founders of a WEF committee on the digital divide, in an interview with CNN.Information and communication technology governors representing 70 technology companies in the WEF are leading the project, including John Chambers of Cisco Systems, Eric Benhamou of 3Com and Carly Fiorina of Hewlett Packard. The committee is considering adapting Sony’s PlayStation console, which supports Linux and Sun’s Java programming language. The device can utilize an 80 gigabyte hard disk that can store 16 hours of video or 500 hours of audio in any language.“These things (the PlayStation consoles) are designed for 12-year-olds and are really powerful,” Gage told CNN. The project will target areas where the people have affordable access to electricity, according to Gage. “Everywhere there is a flicker of a TV screen is a target for putting one of these PlayStation things hooked to a satellite,” he says.
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