The Christian Science Monitor recently reported on a project of Nicholas Negroponte and his team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab:
“…producing a laptop so cheap that governments could afford to link every child in the world to the Internet."
Negroponte’s team and other organizations have been pushing to create a $100 laptop and, in cooperation with the United Nations and sponsorship from such corporations as Google and Advanced Micro Devices, to distribute them to developing countries and even within in the United States. Production will begin in late 2006 with distribution to follow shortly thereafter.
As was stated at a meeting of the UN’s World Summit on the Information Society, “everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to participate” in the benefits of information technology.
And so it should be for elders too.
Older people sometimes become isolated, families may live far away, friends die and perhaps they can’t get out and about as easily as in the past. As any of us bloggers know, access to the internet puts us in touch with limitless fascinating information from all over the world, makes shopping easy, keeps us in touch with friends and family and creates opportunities for new friendships that are no less affectionate for being at a physical distance.
And should elders take up blogging, there are important benefits in helping to maintain mental sharpness.
There could be another important benefit to wiring elders: as I have mentioned previously here, the number of physicians, especially those trained in geriatrics, will not keep pace in the coming years with the number of aging people who will need treatment. If we can get inexpensive computers and internet connections into every retirement home, assisted living facility and individuals living on their own on fixed incomes, a lot of monitoring by physicians can be done over the internet and by email, relieving some of the congestion in doctors’ offices.
It’s exciting to find that Mr. Negroponte has already finished the first step of creating inexpensive hardware which could probably work, with some small modifications, in a program for older adults as well this one for children.