Frugal Innovations for a Developing World

Bill Thies
Dertouzos Distinguished Lecture - February 8, 2017

Bill Thies, Microsoft Research India

The benefits of novel technologies are often out of reach for the poorest billion on the planet. Instead of making things faster, bigger, and more futuristic, can we make things radically cheaper, simpler, and more
inclusive? In this talk, I will describe some of our successes, failures, and lessons learned in deploying such "frugal technologies" in India over the past eight years. Drawing on projects in health, education, and citizen reporting, I will synthesize our experiences into a set of recommendations for anyone seeking to have social impact via technology.

Bill Thies is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research India, where he has worked since 2008. His research focuses on building appropriate information and communication technologies that contribute to the socio-economic development of low-income communities, a field known as ICTD. Previously, Bill earned his B.S., M.Eng., and Ph.D. degrees from MIT, where he worked on programming languages and compilers for multicore processors as well as microfluidic chips. His distinctions include the John C. Reynolds Doctoral Dissertation Award, a CHI Best Paper Award, and a 2016 MacArthur Fellowship.

Dertouzos Distinguished Lecture Series

The Dertouzos Lecturer Series has been a tradition since 1976, featuring some of the most influential thinkers in computer science, including Bill Gates, Steven Jobs, Donald Knuth, John McCarthy, and Mitchell Kapor. Formerly the Distinguished Lecturer Series, the series has been renamed in memory of Michael Dertouzos, Director for the Lab for Computer Science from 1974 to 2001.