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Craig Barrett calls on IT industry to make a difference

Intel chairman asks developers to create solutions for economic and social growth; challenge launched to find new ideas

Craig Barrett has called on the IT industry to develop ideas to drive social and economic development during his opening keynote address to the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

The Intel chairman stressed the importance of technology to bringing about positive change, and particularly the value of education to enable that technology.

“Technology is a tool to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges related to healthcare, education, economic development and the environment. No nation or individuals are untouched by these issues. Get involved. Be part of the solution,” Barrett told the 5,000-strong audience of technology professionals.

Barrett focused particularly on the impact that technology has in developing countries, and how even simple, small scale projects can create major benefits. The keynote included examples of a micro-finance scheme that connects projects in Africa with small investors online, tele-healthcare services in Columbia and Andhra Pradesh, India; low cost solar power solutions and even a technology hack that uses the Nintendo Wii-mote controller to create interactive whiteboards for education for less than $50.

“The really intriguing thing is the impact of technology on the other five billion people in the world, outside of the US, Western Europe and Japan. Technology can lift them out of poverty, provide better healthcare, better education,” Barrett commented.

Barrett outline a roadmap for development, which includes investment in education to create smart people; smart ideas, and the right environment to bring those people and ideas together along with connectivity, access to technology and government incentives for development.

The keynote also touched on the importance of WiMAX as a means to connecting developing markets, with Barrett predicting that over one billion people will be connected with WiMAX by 2012.

In order to drive this development, Barrett also announced the launch of a new technology challenge, the Inspire.Empower Challenge, which aims to find ideas that can use technology to tackle problems related to healthcare, economic development, education and the environment. The challenge will include four $100,000 prizes to develop the best ideas in each category.

“We want to innovate, inspire and empower people around the world,” Barrett said.

For more coverage from Intel Developer Forum, see the itp.net blog.

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