last week was Nicholas Negroponte’s unveiling of the $100 laptop designed to meet the needs of people in relatively poor countries. The other day, Patrick noted that “… the minimum order [of the computer] is a million units, thats 100 million US dollars” and that this seems to be quite a massive outlay for some poor countries. While that is true, one of the characteristics of such states is that there is a struggling “official” market system with thriving black markets of various kinds. The point of the huge investment that has to be made is not to make the barrier to entry too high but rather to ensure that the computers become so ubiquitous that the market value on the street trends towards 0. One thing is sure – it will be very interesting to see where this goes. I wonder if CIDA or the IDRC in Canada has any formal involvement with this project? Canada has been involved with many computing and networking initiatives in Africa, and it seems that this would fit in quite well.
that he’s going to devote a significant amount of attention to the developing Asian Bird flu (H5N1) story on his new blog EPIDEMIca. M-J was a top-notch investigative reporter who changed his life to pursue an interest in infectious diseases – I can’t think of a better combo for someone who’s going to sift through the news and rumours about this potentially civilization-altering story.
The current outbreak in Thailand, Vietnam and China of bird flu – the H5N1 variety of the influenza virus – could be the start of a global pandemic of the flu. All public-health officials believe that the world is overdue for a pandemic, like those that killed hundreds of millions in 1918 and 1967. So far, bird flu has infected and killed only a few score of humans, but if the avian influenza virus mutates and acquires the ability to be transmitted from human to human, and not just from infected birds to humans, a pandemic will likely explode.
a piece that looks at the problems with introducing high-tech passports: Border controls. From last month.
Will Bono’s next gig be World Bank president? I seriously doubt it, but this story is getting some serious press at the moment.
The Coming Wars: What the Pentagon can now do in secret. “The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.”