Posted on February 21st, 2008 in Business & Industry, Gadgets, Linux/Unix, Windows | No Comments »
Thanks to the OLPC initiative’s XO device rolling out to emerging markets, you can look forward to some changes on your desktop even if you never own one yourself.
The Good, The Bad and the Slender?
There is no doubt that getting technology into the hands of impoverished, and developing youths in these markets will empower a new generation to strive for a prosperity that families and whole villages have never know – that’s certainly good. But while this technology is inherently neutral, these new found skills and tools will present individuals with the opportunity to employ them for positive or nefarious purposes!
“The lure of easy money has a very strong appeal”, Glenn Frey mused in the 80′s classic, Smugglers Blues. And while the illicit activity might be different, in the case of these SPAMtop syndicates compared to that of the crime lords on Miami Vice, the motive to exploit hapless users is strikingly similar. Armed with new found knowledge, computing power, free time and an untraceable “mess” internet connection, just mix in some abject poverty, lack of social morals and two bit governments with no principals, ethics or will to enforce local laws, much less international ones, and you have all the ingredients necessary for a new wave of fishing and bot-nets the likes of which we have never seen before.
If you think that assertion is a bit alarmist consider this; they don’t call them Nigerian scams for nothing. Heck forget automated spam attacks as we know them today, these can be detected, intercepted and prevented. But not this new generation of attacks, with this kind of man-power, organized cyber-crime rings can just pay kids with XOs to write personal emails to their unsuspecting marks around the world. Not to be overly dourer, but imagine the pour souls that will be duped by these young scammers with the time and tools to not just email, but build phony web sites, hack credit cards, employ social network sites, even hold IM conversations all with the goal of building up the trust of the victim. Mercy, and we thought the Islamo-terrorist where a threat to Western Civilization!
What about the Slender?
Take heart, its not all bad. Another positive upside is the recent availability of affordable and innovative mini and micro sized notebooks. In addition to XOs offering, there are Intel’s classmate PC initiative, and the very well received Asus EEEpc, which unlike the OLPC is targeting the retail market directly with a sub $500 all flash based unit. But more then these specific units, there are new incentives to bring down prices on this segment of the market; which has been very pricy in the past.
So the next time you delete a get rich quick scam email or are contacted by a member of a foreign royal family, enjoy it on your inexpensive sub-notebook and just remember to say thanks OLPC!