ICT4D Critique – Can Technology End Poverty?

An interesting forum on ICT4D in the Boston Review Nov/Dec 2010


Kentaro Toyama writes in the lead article:

“If I were to summarize everything I learned through research in ICT4D, it would be this: technology—no matter how well designed—is only a magnifier of human intent and capacity. It is not a substitute. If you have a foundation of competent, well-intentioned people, then the appropriate technology can amplify their capacity and lead to amazing achievements. But, in circumstances with negative human intent, as in the case of corrupt government bureaucrats, or minimal capacity, as in the case of people who have been denied a basic
education, no amount of technology will turn things around.”

Nick Negroponte writes a rebuttal:

“When I started One Laptop per Child (OLPC) in 2004, I said that owning a connected laptop would help eliminate poverty through education, especially for the 70 million children who have no access whatsoever to schools. I still believe this. But what I have learned since—with two million laptops in 40 countries—is that reducing isolation is an even bigger issue, and that goal will be achieved with technology and only with technology.”

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