i am at the hospital today with my mom and there is this little robot that just boops around and makes cute noises and says excuse me when it passes. when it delivers the medicine it’s carrying, it chirrs and says little things like, “hi, do you want to take a selfie?”

basically, i eagerly await the arrival of our adorable robot overlords.


When David had stopped stroking and petting him and checked to see if the cage needed to be cleaned, Tezka walked towards Sparky, purring and rubbing against the bars like a cat. Most Enders didn’t act so feral as he did, but he was raised as if he was a wild animal, and instead of learning the ways of his kind from Elders, he’d just had to follow his own instincts and urges.

Nobody ever listened to the “Do not pet or feed” signs, and by this point the zookeepers and workers had just given up enforcing the rule. He’d never hurt anybody, and seemed to love the attention.

He reached out of the bars towards Sparky, purring louder and letting out a soft chirr. He lay down pressed against the bars, still watching him.

“Aren’t you going to eat, bud?” David asked, walking over to try to catch the Ender’s attention. He brought one of the pieces of meat over. But at the moment he was more interested in trying to get attention from the human on the other side of the bars, then eating his meal.

“Only when a woman makes her own money does she have her rights”: The importance of digital literacy in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, girls are treated as second-class citizens. Access to technology could be a road to independence

“Down a dusty side street and behind walls crowned with razor wire, a roomful of girls huddle around the blank screens of a dozen desktops. The power outage—a frequent occurrence in Kabul and in much of Afghanistan—seems to faze no one. The painted outline of a computer keyboard on a blackboard serves as a reminder of the students’ determination to continue their digital education even when access to the technology temporarily vanishes. Today they will not have to wait long for the computers to turn power up. 

The Women’s and the Digital Citizen Fund, who sponsor the class, have purchased a generator. The head teacher rushes out of the room, and moments later the distant rumble of an engine and the flickering of the overhead lights sets the girls in motion. Hands reach out from under robes and the computers chirr to life. Excel spreadsheets and paint programs appear on screens. The girls have been learning English language skills and basic computer literacy, including social media, Excel and various Office programs. Some girls work on blogs they will share on social media sites, and one of them writes: “English and computer skills are very important for us. We learn about the Windows program and Word. We can go on to teach other women the computer and Internet. English is an international language, so it is very important that we know it. And with English we can go to other countries or communicate with people from other countries.”

Globally, Afghanistan suffers from the digital divide: Only a small percentage of the population has access to and use of information and communication technology, a factor that increasingly determines (and serves as a measurement of) economic success.

Internally, Afghanistan suffers from a gender divide: Men and boys have greater access to education and technology. Prevented in most cases from driving, from being seen with men outside their immediate families, from holding positions of authority, and in many cases from moving freely within their own communities, women often never work outside the home. More than 50 percent of girls marry or become engaged by the time they are 12, and when women marry they usually leave school forever. Too often they find themselves isolated and cut off from communicating with the outside world.

Former Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann frames the digital and gender divides in terms of the economic welfare of Afghanistan. “No country can succeed if half its workforce is not utilized,” he said in an interview. “As a country without a lot of natural resources, Afghanistan is going to have to develop intellectual resources, and it will be vital to bring women into the educated workforce.”

Read the full piece here

Photo: Afghan girls work at an internet cafe for women in Kabul, March 8, 2012. (Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail)