Ethiopian kids get tablets, hack NORAD

Evan Ackerman for Dvice:

What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they’ll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware. Whoa.

OK, just kidding about the NORAD part. Regardless, it’s a pretty remarkable story. Just don’t read the comments, most of them totally miss the point.

  • MacsenMcBain

    “We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He’d never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android.”

    Untrained, uneducated children figured out how to bypass security on an Android device in 5 months. Starting from zero. Scary.

  • Certainly sounds more efficient than what Nicholas Negroponte tried to do with OLPC.