CNN logo

Infoseek/Big Yellow

Pathfinder/Warner Bros

Barnes and Noble

Tech banner

Negroponte: Internet is way to world peace

November 25, 1997
Web posted at: 8:26 p.m. EST (0126 GMT)

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) -- Tired of all the hype about the Internet? Well, think again -- one respected Internet guru says it will bring world peace.

Nicholas Negroponte, head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Laboratory, told an information technology conference in Brussels on Tuesday that the potential of the global computer network has actually been vastly underrated.

"I have never seen people miss the scale of what's going on as badly as they are doing it now," he said, predicting that the Internet would do no less than bring world peace by breaking down national borders.

Twenty years from now, he said, children who are used to finding out about other countries through the click of a mouse "are not going to know what nationalism is."

Negroponte faulted European countries outside of Scandinavia, including France and Germany, for not climbing on the Internet bandwagon, saying they were on par with the Third World.

"It's almost as if somebody took a big, thick, black magic marker and drew a line separating Scandinavia from the rest of Europe," he told the conference, sponsored by the European Commission.

He specifically criticized German phone giant Deutsche Telekom for raising local phone rates and thus deterring children from tapping into the Internet.

"Access by kids to the Internet should be like kids breathing clean air," he said.

Negroponte said the U.S. administration was among those who had underestimated the Internet's impact, citing its prediction that electronic commerce would be worth $300 billion by the year 2001.

The figure will actually hit $1 trillion by 2000, fueled by the 1 billion people who will be using the Internet by then, half of them in developing countries, he said.

Negroponte, author of the book "Being Digital," said forecasters were understating the Internet's potential because they were not taking full account of children's growing "digital literacy."

In the United States, he said, 85 percent of all teen-agers have access to a personal computer at home and virtually every 14-year-old is "digitally literate."

"One of the reasons people underestimate the consequences is they forget how quickly children grow up," he said.

Negroponte said he was focusing much of his energy on spreading the digital word to developing countries, working with a foundation named 2B1 that finances educational projects there.

Copyright 1997 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.


Related sites:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Infoseek search  


Watch these shows on CNN for more sci-tech stories:

CNN Computer Connection | Future Watch | Science & Technology Week

Message Boards Sound off on our
message boards

You said it...
To the top

© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.