We've been anything but convinced by the "One Laptop Per Child" project that's been going on for quite some time. While it seems like a nice idea, past attempts at very similar projects have all failed miserably, throwing away plenty of money that could have gone towards more useful projects to help alleviate poverty or improve living conditions in the third world. Still, it seems like the OLPC campaign certainly gets a ton of press -- but it seems like there are a few oddities with the project. Petréa Mitchell writes in noting that at the end of the latest Reuters puff piece on the devices, someone involved in the project notes that to keep these devices off the black market, the devices can be remotely shut down by project organizers. That seems both pointless and silly. If the recipients of the devices find that they can be better off selling such a device for food or shelter, why shouldn't they? However, as Mitchell asks, "Who exactly has the power to do this? How well is this backdoor guarded? What else is it used for? Is it possible to reactivate the computer (in which case the black marketeers are bound to figure out how to do it themselves)? Are the software and data destroyed (in which case the hardware will still be worth something)? If even the hardware is essentially wrecked, then what do they do if there's a mistaken deactivation?" Would be nice to know some of the answers.
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