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TEDxAthens 2010 - Kosta Grammatis - A Human Right

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Γειά σου, Αθήνα! (Hello Athens!) Τι κάνεις, καλά; (How are you, fine?) Don't go any further; I don't speak any more Greek. My Dad is from Volos, so hi, Volos. I'm here to talk to you today about the Internet. Now, we've already heard two speeches about the Internet: Wikipedia in Greece, as well as, what was it? Using your mind on the Internet? Incredible stuff! So, me telling you that we think the Internet should be a human right. You don't need to know any more - I'm done. My name is Kostas Grammatis. I believe that we have the power to improve the human condition on a global scale. The reason for this is because, today, we are in a world that is in a bit of a crisis. And what we need to do to overcome these dilemmas that we're all in, Greece, all the other countries that are in the midst of a recession, there's starving people, there's people with no water, and we need to address these issues head on. And myself and people like me all came together one day for six weeks in Berlin, a group called Palomar Five, to discuss these issues, to discuss how we could change the world. And what we came across was some incredible ideas of how to address these issues. And the number one thing that we learned was that people need to have the power to solve their own problems. There's a thing called aid industry, I'm sure you've heard of it, right? I don't know why they call it an industry. If it was doing its job, there would be no more aid industry. And the story goes, for this gentleman, William Kamkwamba, maybe you've heard of him, he gave a TED talk, maybe a year ago. He couldn't afford to go to school, the $80 it costs to go to school, he couldn't pay. So, he spent the four years that would be his high school in the library. And he read physics books and textbooks and he tried his best to learn what he wanted to know. And with that information, he went and assembled a windmill. He basically reinvented the windmill. It took him four years. And some reporters came, they came and saw what he'd done, and they said, "What did you do here?" And they took him to the United States to go talk about his windmill that he reinvented. And he was on the Today show with Jon Stewart and Jon Stewart asks him, "What do you think about America, about all these technological innovations? You're a technological innovator in Africa." And he says, "Well, Google was pretty cool." Because he'd never, like, he was on a TV show, and somebody asked him what Google was, and he goes, "What animal's a Google?" And they put a computer in front of him, and he Googled "windmill," and when he found all of the instructions on how to build a windmill, he's like, "Where was this Google all the time?" This struck all of us as ridiculous, because how, why is this young man forced to reinvent technology that already exists? Why can't he just have information at his fingertips? So, we went to work doing some research, finding about that: 83% of the world is literate. 78% of the world has access to electricity, but only 26% of the world has Internet access, which means five billion people are not online at this time. That's not cool. And as Benjamin Disraeli, who was big into imperialism, once said, "As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information." And we agree. Let me tell you some stories regarding education. In India, this man, Sugata Mitra, he had an office in the slums of India. And he cut a hole in the side of it, and put a computer, to answer the question: “Could children teach themselves how to use a computer and maybe learn something along the way?” His results were astonishing: Kids were going, playing with the computer on a daily basis, and learning all sorts of things. Learning how to speak English. Nobody believed his results. So he took a computer, he put it out in the middle of nowhere, where no English speakers were. He came back two months later, and the kids asked him: "We need a faster processor, and a better keyboard." [Laughter] He asked "Where did you learn all that?" And they said: "From the CDs you left us." And so it goes on. You know, you can multiply the effectiveness of ten teachers by a hundred or a thousandfold, if you give children access to the Internet. In Iran, I bet most of you have seen this image, Neda Agha was shot and killed by the Iranian forces, just for demonstrating. The video was put on You Tube - the most widely viewed death in all of human history. Millions of views and it strengthened the revolution so much that I guess Iran had to turn off the Internet. And some say that because Iran turned off the Internet, that led to the slowdown and eventual stop of the revolution, among other things. In Papua New Guinea, which is ranked 148 out of 182 on a human development index, Michael Somare, the prime minister, has an idea to put a satellite up over his country, because he needs to bring information services to all of his people. Those information services will promote his government, promote the work that he's trying to do, bring education to places. It's the first step in becoming a developed society, in his eyes. We envision to empower our people to the power of information, to enhance their quality of life and to be on par with their peers in developed urban centers and peoples of this world. In New Orleans, in America, the first thing that happened after the hurricane was they rolled out free WiFi service. Intel donated 1.2 million dollars worth of equipment, and the results were as follows. "You would have thought you were bringing starving people food, from the reaction on the street." (Chris Drake, the WiFi project manager). They used it to coordinate their efforts, it was amazing. Internet penetration goes - is correlated to the Gross Domestic Product of a country. The poorer you are, the less access you have to the Internet. And it goes, not just for the country, but for the people, as well. In America, 38% of American households earning less than $25,000 annually, do not have Internet access, which is terrible, because 95% of companies are using LinkedIn to find employees. Now, I worked in a soup kitchen in Boston for a little while. And you could see the homeless every morning, they'd come in with their laptops, and they'd sit, they'd eat the free soup, and they'd find jobs. It was incredible. The Internet is a tool that helps people to help themselves. We believe that the Internet is a basic human right. And not only are we trying to enforce the human right, like, from a political standpoint, but we're trying to make it happen, because four out of five people agree with us, that Internet access should be a human right. And five countries, including Greece, Greece started it: in 1999, Greece said that they should legally protect - yes! [Applause] In 1999, Greece said that they legally protect their citizen's rights to Internet access, which I find incredible. We plan to fulfill this human right. And now, your next question is, how do you that? We have three big ideas. Lobby governments and industry, in order to provide a free segment of their network. So, let's say you have a telephone, telco company that provides cell phone services. 25% of that would be devoted to free services for anyone. Or the government would roll out their own. We could build our own network, which would be like a satellite thing for the whole entire world, or we can buy existing infrastructure and repurpose it for this cause of free Internet access for every person on planet Earth. The results of, like, the lobbying, we have a few stories. In America, there was a company that nobody has really heard of, called M2Z. They tried for four years to lobby the FCC to get a chunk of spectrum. Now, spectrum is basically the radio waves, the license to use a certain amount of radio waves. They were going to offer 768 kilobits per second for free. And the FCC, who was in charge of approving or denying whether that happens, said no. The reasons why they said no, is because 768 kilobits per second was too slow! Now, 768 kilobits per second allows you to download 12 MBs in one minute, if that means anything to anyone. Sorry [for] all the data. But, just for purposes of comparison, the average download speed of America's biggest wireless networks in 2010 is 988 kilobits per second. So, between 768 and 988, I don't really understand why it's too slow. It's not that much slower. We think, some people say that it's because of industry. Industry lobby and they're, of course, very afraid of free Internet, how could you do that? And the CTIA, which is in charge of lobbying on behalf of wireless providers, says: "We are pleased to learn that the FCC's closing the spectrum debate and will continue to focus on finding a proper pairing for the spectrum." Which I think is fascinating, because what could be more proper than free Internet for the whole of America? I don't know, what else would you do? In Panama they tried something different. Ricardo Martinelli actually ran his campaign on the idea of, "We will provide free Internet for all of our citizens. If I am elected, I will do this within 100 days." And he said the project does not compete with private broadband providers, because its aim is digital inclusion and not the provision of high speed Internet access. And he was elected, and he's rolling out free Internet for all of Panama. We agree with him. We agree with this idea that you can have a free wireless service for all people to enforce the basic human right of Internet access, which allows you to do things in many different ways. And it will not compete with local telecommunications companies. You don't have to worry. So, that's on the sides of lobbying government. And actually, on that end, we encourage you to talk to your government wherever you are, and see if you can make it happen. On the second front, we're trying to build our own network. Imagine Internet access as ubiquitous as the air you breathe. The foundation that we run is called ahumanright.org. And they would be the administrators of this idea. We are working with NASA and some other companies to design a very low cost satellite, 4 million dollars, 2 - 4.5 million dollars each, put them up in space on the back of the burgeoning space tourism industry that's just beginning. Or the low cost launch vehicle companies, called SpaceX. And then, for the easy sum of one billion dollars, the whole entire world is connected, right? ...Easy! Now, I have a story for you, because, while I was in the cab on the way over here, the taxi driver was telling me, he says, "Look over there. You see that? That's the Olympic Stadium. The first Olympic Stadium." And I said, "Wow, who paid for that?" And he says, "Not the government. Because the government didn't have any money. The people paid for it." And he was really proud of that. And I love that, because I think we could do this, too. For comparison purposes, 48 hours of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, one billion dollars. Two day cease fire, we're good. [Applause] And if there's any billionaires looking to leave a legacy... we only need one. Our third idea, and my favorite idea, I only have 5 minutes, guys, come on. My favorite idea, I cannot, like, I'm so excited about this, I'm getting really excited, is recycling old infrastructure. I'm really into recycling. You take the old stuff and you turn it into brand new stuff. There's an interesting thing going on right now. There's a company called Terrestar, that's been bankrupt as of October 19th, 2010. They own the world's most powerful communication satellite ever put into orbit. This thing is like a bus. And its job was to put Internet and phone services for all of North America. Now that they're bankrupt, let's buy it! And let's move it over a country that could put some use to it, or a number of countries. There are a lot of places that are interested in this, Papua New Guinea being one of them, say. Anyone who can see the value of the Internet can see the value of providing free Internet to its people. And we're very much interested in that. The handset that will access this will be available entirely open source, so we would build something that would access this satellite. And we could connect millions of people. This would be like the first shot, this would be the, how we get started. This isn't just an idea, though. We made a website. [Laughter] And my programmer, who's asleep right now, just launched it today- buythissatellite.org. And what our plan is, is to accept some donations. We're trying to raise $150,000, and with that $150,000 we're going to finish up some of our business plans and we're going to go start talking to world leaders and those billionaires who might be willing to put down some money to take this satellite, move it to a new place, and do something truly incredible with it. buythissatellite.org is what we're trying to do. Please go, please spread the word. My name is Kostas Grammatis and I believe that Internet access is a human right. I believe that we can enforce and bring this human right to every citizen of planet Earth. And I think it is imperative that we do this as soon as possible. I thank every one of you for being here today. I thank my team; there are about a hundred people, volunteers from all over the world, collaborating online to bring this vision to life. I thank NASA Ames, Deutsche Telekom, who's our primary funder, and everyone else who's helped. Thank you so much. [Applause]

Video Details

Duration: 15 minutes and 42 seconds
Year: 2011
Country: Greece
Language: English
Producer: TEDxAthens
Director: TEDx
Views: 299
Posted by: tradottiinitaliano on May 27, 2011

Kosta Grammatis at TEDxAthens 2010, in Athens, Greece, gives a great talk on why the Internet is a Human Right and analyzes his idea behind buythissatellite.org

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