Making Technology Work — for People
Technology has the potential to transform the lives of the world’s poor.
Computers, water filters, renewable energy, improved crops… all have been touted as tools for pulling people out of poverty.
Yet technological fixes often fail to deliver on their promise.
Consider these examples:
- One Laptop per Child, an ambitious program to improve education in poor countries, has had mixed success. Read a recent critique here.
- A $7 million program to install arsenic filters at wells in eastern India failed due to poor maintenance.
- A renewable-energy project in Nicaragua, intended to help the poor by providing electricity, has caused a sharp increase in television watching — and television buying. Read the story here, or listen below.
What can be done to make technology work better for the people it’s meant to serve?
In this World Science Forum, we talk to Anu Ramaswami. She’s an environmental engineer at the University of Colorado in Denver and directs a program on Urban Infrastructure Development. She trains engineers to consider the social and cultural aspects of their work.
Now it’s your chance to ask the questions. Join our conversation with Anu Ramaswami.
- Have you seen a good technology fail because it was not implemented with people in mind?
- Has the Western world become too techno-centric — too dismissive of indigenous knowledge?
Design Like You Give a Damn: Watch a video from our sister program FRONTLINE/World. The video profiles an effort at participatory architecture in rural India.Hide