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View Full Version : Ethiopian Kids Hack Android!




Renzatic
Nov 2, 2012, 04:38 AM
That's a link bait title if there ever was one. I found this thread on another forum I visit, and thought it'd be interesting to share here.

This isn't anything so inane as yet another platform war thread. Oh no. It's about something far cooler, and considerably more interesting. It's a heartwarming story of ingenuity, intelligence, and...yeah, maybe human nature.

...it's about Ethiopian kids hacking Android (http://dvice.com/archives/2012/10/ethiopian-kids.php).

The interesting thing is these kids have never sat inside a classroom, have no idea how to read, hell...they've probably never seen anything as sophisticated as a damn Motorola Xoom before. Yet, without any instructions, they pick it up, figure out how to turn it on, and within two weeks, are downloading apps and teaching themselves how to read. Five months later, without any outside help (I can't stress that enough), they know enough to reenable the camera on the thing.

Impressive stuff, how kids will teach themselves things we think they can't learn without being coddled and held by the hand.

But in the spirit of contention and oneupmanship, people now have an argument against the tired old "iOS is so easy to use, even my three year old can pick it up and play with it". Yeah? Well Android taught a bunch of illiterate kids how to read and play with computers. HOW'S THAT, HUH?



cynics
Nov 2, 2012, 05:58 AM
Those kids would have been bored with iOS and built a fort out of the iPad boxes! Lol

I have no comment on this social experiment quite yet....

AceCoolie
Nov 2, 2012, 02:38 PM
hmm. I don't buy it. I simply don't believe that a bunch of children that have never seen a single printed word, let alone electronic device could do what is described in the article. They would have no concept of what the device is and therefor are simply pushing buttons at random. I think the article is ether BS or the kids are now where near as primitive as we are being lead to believe.

jsw
Nov 2, 2012, 02:42 PM
hmm. I don't buy it. I simply don't believe that a bunch of children that have never seen a single printed word, let alone electronic device could do what is described in the article. They would have no concept of what the device is and therefor are simply pushing buttons at random. I think the article is ether BS or the kids are now where near as primitive as we are being lead to believe.
Negroponte is legit. This story also made the rounds at MIT, and there's no reason to believe it's inaccurate.

Illiterate ≠ stupid.

AceCoolie
Nov 2, 2012, 03:12 PM
I'm not saying the kids are stupid. I'm just saying if you have no concept of any kind of device, no concept of it being capable of doing something, no reason to be trying to make it do something, I don't believe they would have randomly stumbled on all the steps required to make it work.

Even if they did realize that the box was meant to be opened and that something inside it was meant to be taken out of the box and after touching it, they hit the power button and the screen came on, what happens when the battery dies? How would they have had any concept of what a battery is and why something requires power and how they were supposed to go about charging it?

The article implies that they have never seen any kind of device, let alone any printed letters. It's just too much to suggest that they could have come up with the kind of logic and reasoning required on their own.

cynics
Nov 2, 2012, 03:17 PM
We call a child's mind small simply by habit; perhaps it is larger than ours is, for it can take in almost anything without effort

Renzatic
Nov 2, 2012, 03:29 PM
I'm not saying the kids are stupid. I'm just saying if you have no concept of any kind of device, no concept of it being capable of doing something, no reason to be trying to make it do something, I don't believe they would have randomly stumbled on all the steps required to make it work.

Even if they did realize that the box was meant to be opened and that something inside it was meant to be taken out of the box and after touching it, they hit the power button and the screen came on, what happens when the battery dies? How would they have had any concept of what a battery is and why something requires power and how they were supposed to go about charging it?

The article implies that they have never seen any kind of device, let alone any printed letters. It's just too much to suggest that they could have come up with the kind of logic and reasoning required on their own.

It likely starts out as basic pattern recognition. Kids poke and prod at it until it does something, fiddle around with it a bit to see what does what. Eventually the battery would die, but since the tablets were equipped with solar power chargers (and if there's one thing Ethiopia has a lot of, it's sun...), they're likely to try it again and see that after letting it sit for awhile, it works. People aren't like animals. They won't play with something for 5 minutes, then lose complete interest. If they've got something totally mysterious in front of them, they're instantly captivated, and they'll play with it for years on end just to see how it works.

Eventually they'll pick up on the fact that it only runs for so long before powering itself down. That it has a "sleep" cycle. They won't immediately have a concept of a battery, but they'll be able to at least divine that much from experience.

From there, basic pattern recognition becomes a level of understanding. They'll start picking up on the rhyme and reason of the thing, and become comfortable with it. From that point, it's exponential learning and understanding.

I think the most shocking thing about the article isn't that the kids taught themselves how to use a tablet and developed a small amount of literacy from the experience. It's that they did it so fast, and on their own volition.

Like guy above said, people aren't stupid.

whoknows87
Nov 2, 2012, 04:11 PM
Interesting Experiment to say the least, What's not to believe for those who are a bit doubtful? All you have to do is provide a human being an object and time, most of the time they will figure out some use for it, I know some people who learned how to drive a car all by themselves, adults learning how to use a computer, even elderly folks I'm talking those in their late 70-80s using smart phones they do learn, if they can learn at a later age, surely kids can learn in 5 months

AceCoolie
Nov 2, 2012, 04:42 PM
Interesting Experiment to say the least, What's not to believe for those who are a bit doubtful? All you have to do is provide a human being an object and time, most of the time they will figure out some use for it, I know some people who learned how to drive a car all by themselves, adults learning how to use a computer, even elderly folks I'm talking those in their late 70-80s using smart phones they do learn, if they can learn at a later age, surely kids can learn in 5 months

The difference in your example though is that the person who learned how to drive knew what a car was before hand and knew it was supposed to move and that they were supposed to learn to control it. An elderly person learning a computer knows that the computer is supposed to do something and they need to press buttons to get it to work. These people knew the goal ahead of time. This article is saying these kids had no concept of the goal.

I have no doubt that children/adults can learn amazing things on their own. Without the basic concept that this was something that was meant to be used, why didn't they try to eat it? Why didn't they use them as shovels? Build houses out of them? Place food on them? Someone, somewhere, had to have seen a computer or phone or device or something being used. The people that dropped them off must have given some clue. I'm sure they didn't pull into town in some crazy noisy metal contraption (truck), unloaded 1000 boxes, and drove off without saying a word.

whoknows87
Nov 2, 2012, 05:00 PM
The difference in your example though is that the person who learned how to drive knew what a car was before hand and knew it was supposed to move and that they were supposed to learn to control it. An elderly person learning a computer knows that the computer is supposed to do something and they need to press buttons to get it to work. These people knew the goal ahead of time. This article is saying these kids had no concept of the goal.

I have no doubt that children/adults can learn amazing things on their own. Without the basic concept that this was something that was meant to be used, why didn't they try to eat it? Why didn't they use them as shovels? Build houses out of them? Place food on them? Someone, somewhere, had to have seen a computer or phone or device or something being used. The people that dropped them off must have given some clue. I'm sure they didn't pull into town in some crazy noisy metal contraption (truck), unloaded 1000 boxes, and drove off without saying a word.

you do have a point there about prior knowledge ,I completely disregarded that

Rodimus Prime
Nov 2, 2012, 05:48 PM
The difference in your example though is that the person who learned how to drive knew what a car was before hand and knew it was supposed to move and that they were supposed to learn to control it. An elderly person learning a computer knows that the computer is supposed to do something and they need to press buttons to get it to work. These people knew the goal ahead of time. This article is saying these kids had no concept of the goal.

I have no doubt that children/adults can learn amazing things on their own. Without the basic concept that this was something that was meant to be used, why didn't they try to eat it? Why didn't they use them as shovels? Build houses out of them? Place food on them? Someone, somewhere, had to have seen a computer or phone or device or something being used. The people that dropped them off must have given some clue. I'm sure they didn't pull into town in some crazy noisy metal contraption (truck), unloaded 1000 boxes, and drove off without saying a word.


Umm chances are they did try to eat it. Aka put it in their mouth and it did not taste like food so not that. They might of tried to use it as a shovel but at the same time it would of been to shinny and not felt right for that. It turned on and once one figures it out others follow suit and copy them.

People are not dumb. We have all messed with things that we have no clue what they are. I know I pick things up I really have no clue and figure out how they work.

F123D
Nov 2, 2012, 06:29 PM
Lets send these kids some iPhone 5's and see if they can develop an untethered jailbreak.

b24pgg
Nov 2, 2012, 07:52 PM
I've been looking everywhere to find an explanation of what they did and have found nothing.

How exactly did they "hack" Android?

Technarchy
Nov 2, 2012, 08:03 PM
Kids are inquisitive and naturally resilient. I don't doubt this social experiment.

Drop a few dozen in the jungle and some will build huts and fire, and some will get eaten by crocodiles.

Renzatic
Nov 2, 2012, 08:23 PM
How exactly did they "hack" Android?

Hack is used a little loosely here. The camera had been disabled on all the tablets before they shipped them out. After 5 months, the kids knew enough about the OS by that point to dig down deep and reenable it.

3bs
Nov 2, 2012, 08:25 PM
Hack is used a little loosely here. The camera had been disabled on all the tablets before they shipped them out. After 5 months, the kids knew enough about the OS by that point to dig down deep and reenable it.

So they turned it on in the settings?

----------

Lets send these kids some iPhone 5's and see if they can develop an untethered jailbreak.

Lol :p

I'm sure the jailbreak devs already have untethered jailbreaks for themselves but the difficulty is getting a jailbreak they can release to the public that doesn't require any developer tools.

Renzatic
Nov 2, 2012, 08:30 PM
So they turned it on in the settings?

Hell, I dunno. They're fairly vague on that point. Though I don't think you can turn the camera off directly from the settings menu in Android, can you?

3bs
Nov 2, 2012, 08:52 PM
Hell, I dunno. They're fairly vague on that point. Though I don't think you can turn the camera off directly from the settings menu in Android, can you?

Not as far as I'm aware.

Dontazemebro
Nov 7, 2012, 08:11 AM
The Horn of Africa is a hotbed for xda developers :D