Kentaro Toyama on Computer Science Research for Global Development

On the same planet where there are 1.4 billion Internet users, a far less fortunate 1.4 billion people survive below the World Bank’s definition of the poverty line. The same technology that has transformed our lives – the lives of the wealthiest people on the planet – also remains out of reach and irrelevant for the poorest.

How do you design user interfaces for an illiterate migrant worker? Can you keep five rural schoolchildren from fighting over one PC? What value is technology to a farmer earning $1 a day? The young field of “information and communication technology for development” (ICT4D) asks these kinds of questions in the expectation that computing and communication technologies can contribute to the socio-economic development of the world’s poorest communities.

Through the video and slides, Kentaro Toyama introduces the Technology for Emerging Markets group at Microsoft Research India, where an interdisciplinary team of researchers explores solutions in the context of agriculture, education, healthcare, microfinance, and other domains of development. The talk discusses the role of computer science, project sustainability, and multidisciplinarity with academic integrity in the context of MultiPoint, a project where a computer-science concept not only solves a challenge in the context of under-resourced schools, but opens the door to rich avenues for further research.

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