Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Need for Appropriate Technology Protocol

The Process Toward a Protocol on Appropriate Technology

This must be seen as a process to bring ‘appropriate technology’ to the forefront of discussion and practice regarding science and technology - education, policy, research, development and deployment.

The public education on ‘what is appropriate technology’ is central to our mission as the International Network on Appropriate Technology (INAT). The cornerstone on our position regarding appropriate technology (AT) is that AT is ‘technology to empower people’. The broader the world population is empowered the more the potential of the world’s human resources can be utilized. The broader the world population is empowered, the better equipped the mass of human society is to exercise democracy.

The nature of ‘appropriate technology’ is technology that is culturally sensitive yet ecologically sound and economically sustainable. Science and technology is not philosophically and ideologically neutral. To fully embrace the promotion of appropriate technology, one must be driven by compassion for humankind and mother earth. To fully embrace the promotion of AT, one must be philosophically rooted in the belief that humanism, collectivism and egalitarianism are abiding human characteristics that when reinforced heighten the collective conscience across human society. To fully embrace the promotion of AT, one must be ideologically committed to organize for the promotion of appropriate technologies to replace all unproductive and war centered technologies in the realm of education, policy and practice.

This process must move from the general pronouncement of the goal of appropriate technology proponents to a reality where AT dominates in all realms of science and technology. This requires a strategy and detailed plan.

The redirection of the educational aspect of this goal must center in our world network of higher education. While the bulk of technology development and deployment resources are in the hands of the private sector corporations, and the bulk of research monies allocated to research, development and deployment that is not dominantly dependent on mass consumer demand comes from the governments; it is the institutions of higher education that are the source, directly and indirectly for the leading research and development of technology practice and deployment as well as technology policy investigation and promotion.

Focusing on technologies that are human-centered promote: better health, better education, improved access to clean water, necessary shelter and safe food, as well as transportation and energy solutions that are don’t threaten ecological imbalance. Driven by fear and the imbalance of access to resources, today’s planet focuses a disproportionate amount of our resources on war technology, policing, and security.

The development of science and advancement of engineering presents us with the opportunity of solving the health and education problems of the world and meeting the basic water, food, and shelter needs of the world population. The disparity regarding the control of the planet’s natural and developed resources stand in the way of achieving these people-centered goals of forwarding science, engineering and resource distribution to end poverty and human suffering

In addition to focusing on redirecting higher education to focus on appropriate technology, we must mandate civic, worker and professional organizations across society to call for and work toward a redirection of science and technology.

A populace educated regarding the benefits of appropriate technology as well as the disadvantages of current technology direction, will be armed to engage civic society, worker and professional organizations and government at all levels on ‘how our resources should be allocated’.

As part of the broader project a series of documents researching science and technology development and its impacts will be developed. This deeper research effort will be accompanied with the development of a series of ‘appropriate technology declarations’ that can be examined and embraced by educational institutions, worker and professional organizations, and civil society organizations.

Once the consciousness of a larger audience is heightened on the human-centered technology needs of our world, a manifesto on appropriate technology can provide more detail on how to redirect our planet’s resources toward appropriate technology. This manifesto can be the tool to get organizations to reallocate resources to this people-centered cause. This reallocation of resources will allow more detailed demonstration of the validity of ‘appropriate technology’ as a solution to an impoverished and disempowered society. This will establish the grounds for a yet more comprehensive and challenging ‘Appropriate Technology Protocol’ to be addressed by international agencies and world governments calling for the global redirection of our resources to empower our planet’s masses through appropriate technology development and deployment.