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Tech That Helps the World
Lee Felsenstein, CTO, Fonly LLC

Date: Thursday, March 17
Time: 1:45pm - 2:30pm
Location: California Ballroom C

Widespread perceptions that the technologies embraced by industrialized countries do not help--and in some ways--hurt the large number of people in underdeveloped countries presents a fundamental source of danger in the form of terrorism. The events of 9/11 have brought this point to the world's attention.

Industrialized nations therefore have a self-interest in fielding technological systems which perceptibly improve life at the grassroots level in underdeveloped countries, inhibit or reverse migration from rural to urban areas, and raise the level of education and literacy, particularly among women. The challenge is to build an industry whose products enhance individual and community life in a sustainable, locally-controllable way, primarily through communications.

Pilot projects are under way in various locations which combine low-cost computers, telecommunication, wireless, and alternative energy technologies to meet expressed needs of people on the margins of the global economy.

We will discuss several of these projects in this session, including the Jhai PC System (or "Pedal-powered Internet"), the "Motoman" project linking five Cambodian schools to the Internet through mobile access points carried on motorcycles, the Ecopartners projects in the Dominican Republilc, as well as others.

Systems of this sort combine low-cost, high-reliability hardware with open-source software and high-volume, low-cost wireless equipment. They must be designed to be operated by members of the local community and require substatntial community buy-in and understanding of choices.

We will discuss the design process, particular problems presented by the environment, and the opportunities presented for growth of a self-sustaining industry which serves this vast potential market.

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