An Audacious Challenge: Digital Inclusion
Updated: Apr 5, 2022
by Daniel Gutwein, Director at the Intel Corporation
It is difficult to describe the joy I experienced when I helped open a solar-powered computer lab for a community school in Southern Zambia. In 2011, I journeyed with some friends from Intel to deliver a computer lab in a community that was probably 100 miles from running water, stable electricity, let alone any digital networks for connectivity.
The day we opened the lab, I met a ten-year-old boy who had one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. The type of smile that stretched from ear to ear, and when he laughed, it felt as if every worry in the world just disappeared. We had never met before and, sadly, haven’t met since. Although I can’t remember his name, I can still feel his little elbow leaning on my shoulder and hearing his laughter as we scrolled through pictures of polar bears on the computer. Yep, polar bears. All I did was turn on a computer and ask him if he’d ever seen snow. When he shook his head, no, we just started exploring. In our time together, we explored more than he had seen in a lifetime.
The simplicity and power of this interaction have had a profound impact on how I view the value of digital participation across the globe. It’s something I’ve thought of, tinkered with, and researched for over a decade now. If our corporate purpose is to “create world-changing technology that improves the lives of every person on the planet,” why are an estimated 3.9B people still not participating in the digital world? And while the word “improves” can be defined in many ways, won’t digital participation help improve lives? Will access to educational content, healthcare information, agriculture, and others improve lives? Will digital access lead to trade and supply optimization and improve lives? Will digital access to a financial exchange, real-time current affairs, and social interaction improve lives? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, do we have a collective moral imperative to invest in each person’s capacity for growth and opportunity?
At Intel, we started discussing these questions, which led to the start of the N50 Project. The N50 Project, which stands for the Next 50%, aims to accelerate digital adoption and community enrichment through innovative applications, network design, and business models to enable the next 3.9B people to participate in the digital world. We believe no single company can do this alone. Instead, it will take a collaborative effort from multiple industries to accelerate change.
For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing the journey we’re on with our partners, the why behind what we’re doing, and how we plan to tackle this audacious challenge. Please share your stories, comments, and suggestions regarding how we can improve N50 Project efforts. If your company has a vested interest in seeing the next 50% join the digital world, or if you are interested in joining the movement, please go to www.n50project.org or reach out to me on LinkedIn.
About the Author, Daniel Gutwein
Daniel’s passion and purpose are to bridge the gap between technological advancement and the betterment of humanity. He does this by leading the incubation efforts for the Emerging Technologies team in Intel’s Internet of Things Group. The team’s efforts include work in AI, CV, robotics, Social Equity, and most recently, the N50 Project, which is an effort to connect and gain meaningful participation from the next 3.9B people on earth.
Daniel successfully founded two companies, including a non-profit that motivated 50,000 people in 38 countries to raise funds to build schools, hospitals, and computer labs in rural Africa.
Daniel is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and teaches marketing courses at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. In addition, he serves on the advisory board for the Retail Orphan Initiative and the board of directors for the JSIM Hope Foundation. Daniel holds multiple patents in RF technology. LinkedIn.