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The Cyborg and the Noble Savage: Ethics in the War on Information Poverty

The Cyborg and the Noble Savage: Ethics in the War on Information Poverty
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Author(s): Martin Ryder (University of Colorado at Denver, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 18
Source title: Handbook of Research on Technoethics
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Rocci Luppicini (University of Ottawa, Canada) and Rebecca Adell (University of Ottawa, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-022-6.ch016

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Abstract

This chapter provides a brief summary of the technical and social hurdles that define the so-called ‘digital divide’ and it considers the celebrated ‘One Laptop Per Child’ project as one response to the problem of digital poverty. The chapter reviews the design of the XO laptop with particular interest on the ethical territory that is traversed in the implementation of a low-cost computer intended for millions of children in underdeveloped nations. The chapter reviews how XO designers negotiated between ethics and feasibility as they confronted numerous problems including infrastructure, power consumption, hazardous materials, free vs. proprietary software, security, and the cost of labor. Apart from technical considerations, this review of the XO evaluates the notion of cultural hegemony and how the imposition of such technology as an educational tool might be balanced by considerations of local control and user agency.

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