Open Source Appropriate Technology

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Open source appropriate technology (OSAT) refers to technologies that are designed in the same fashion as free [1] and open-source software. These technologies must be "appropriate technology" (AT) - meaning technology that is designed with special consideration to the environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economical aspects of the community it is intended for. The case for OSAT is made here. [2]


Contents

[edit] Benefits

Open source is a development method for appropriate technology that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. Appropedia is an example of open source appropriate technology. Here anyone can both learn how to make and use AT free of patent concerns. At the same time anyone can also add to the collective open source knowledge base by contributing ideas, observations, experimental data, deployment logs, etc.

It has been claimed that the potential for open source appropriate technology to drive applied sustainability is enormous.[3] The built in continuous peer-review can result in better quality, higher reliability, and more flexibility than conventional design/patenting of technologies. The free nature of the knowledge also obviously provides lower costs, particularly for those technologies that do not benefit to a large degree from scale of manufacture. Finally, OSAT also enables the end to predatory intellectual property lock-in. This is particularly important in the context of technology focused on relieving suffering and saving lives in the developing world.

The "open source" model can act as a driver of sustainable development. There are (at least) three good reasons[4]:

  1. it enables production as well as consumption;
  2. it enables localization for communities that do not have the resources to tempt commercial developers to provide local versions of their products;
  3. it can be free as in "gratis" as well as free as in "libre" -- an important consideration for developing communities.

[edit] Ethical Considerations

Although developing world problems are portioned remarkably low support for solutions, many researchers, companies, and academics do work on products meant to assist sustainable development. Vinay Gupta has suggested that those developers agree to three principles [5]:

  1. I will not permit any human being to be deprived of life-giving technology by the profit motive.
  2. Any works that I patent I will make available to others who are engaged in humanitarian activity for free, except where this would breach other contractual responsibilities.
  3. I will not use patent law to slow the pace of innovation or service delivery to the needy under any circumstances.

[edit] Support in the Literature

  • It has been investigated how open sharing of designs, specifications, and technical information can enhance effectiveness, widespread use, and innovation of appropriate technology.[3]
  • OSAT has been claimed to assist in development of medical technology particularly for the developing world [6][7].
  • It has been claimed that the sharing of design processes, appropriate tools, and technical information enables more effective and rapid development of appropriate technologies for both industrialized and non-industrialized regions.[8] In addition, it is claimed that this sharing will require the appropriate technology community to adopt open standards/licenses, document knowledge, and build on previous work. [8]
  • At the university level, the use of open source appropriate technology classroom projects has been shown to be successful in forging the connection between physics and social benefit:[9] This approach has the potential to use university students’ access to resources and testing equipment in furthering the development of appropriate technology. Similarly OSAT has been used as a tool for improving service learning.[10][11]

See Also: Open Source Appropriate Technology Literature Review

[edit] Full abstracts

[edit] The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology

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Much of the widespread poverty, environmental desecration, and waste of human life seen around the globe could be prevented by known (to humanity as a whole) technologies, many of which are simply not available to those that need it. This lack of access to critical information for sustainable development is directly responsible for a morally and ethically unacceptable level of human suffering and death. A solution to this general problem is the concept of open source appropriate technology or OSAT, which refers to technologies that provide for sustainable development while being designed in the same fashion as free and open-source software. OSAT is made up of technologies that are easily and economically utilized from readily available resources by local communities to meet their needs and must meet the boundary conditions set by environmental, cultural, economic, and educational resource constraints of the local community. This paper explores both the open source and appropriate technology aspects of OSAT to create a paradigm, in which anyone can both learn how to make and use needed technologies free of IP concerns. At the same time anyone can also add to the collective open source knowledge ecosystem or knowledge commons by contributing ideas, designs, observations, experimental data, deployment logs, etc. It is argued that if OSAT continues to grow and takes hold globally creating a vibrant virtual community to share technology plans and experiences, a new technological revolution, built on a dispersed network of innovators working together to create a just sustainable world is possible.

[edit] Open Design-Based Strategies to Enhance Appropriate Technology Development

The appropriate technology (AT) movement is being driven by inventors and innovators who are interested in designing technologies that are culturally, environmentally, and economically appropriate, and feasible to construct and use for people anywhere in the world. This paper examines how open sharing of designs, specifications, and technical information can enhance effectiveness, widespread use, and innovation of AT. This commons-based open design method has been highly successful for software development (i.e., open source), and has also begun to be used in other fields through unique partnerships and new information-sharing tools on the internet. This paper critically demonstrates key examples of open design successes that can be applied to development of AT. It also identifies potential barriers to open-sourcing AT designs, analyzes business models for open design in the context of AT, and outlines practical solutions with examples currently underway.

[edit] Overcoming Technical Constraints for Obtaining Sustainable Development with Open Source Appropriate Technology

Open source appropriate technology (OSAT) refers to technologies that provide for sustainable development while being designed in the same fashion as free and open source software. Facilitated by advances in information technology software and hardware, new ways to disseminate information such as wikis and Internet-enabled mobile phones, the global development of OSAT has emerged as a reality. This paper shows the sharing of design processes, appropriate tools, and technical information is enables more effective and rapid development of appropriate technologies for both industrialized and non-industrialized regions. This sharing will require the appropriate technology community to adopt open standards/licenses, document knowledge, and build on previous work. This paper offers solutions in the form of both business models and tools to overcome technical constraints of OSAT development in the forms of the platforms necessary on which to share and build knowledge about appropriate technologies. These solutions are open, easily accessible for those in need, have a low barrier to entry for both users and information creators, and must be vetted in order to utilized as a trustworthy source on critical information needs. Current progress towards implementing these solutions will be reviewed and recommendations will be made to further increase the rate of OSAT development.

[edit] A new model for enabling innovation in appropriate technology for sustainable development

The task of providing for basic human necessities such as food, water, shelter, and employment is growing as the world’s population continues to expand amid climate destabilization. One of the greatest challenges to development and innovation is access to relevant knowledge for quick technological dissemination. However, with the rise and application of advanced information technologies there is a great opportunity for knowledge building, community interaction, innovation, and collaboration using various online platforms. This article examines the potential of a novel model to enable innovation for collaborative enterprise, learning, and appropriate technology development on a global scale.

[edit] Free and Open Source Appropriate Technology

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Joshua M. Pearce, “Free and Open Source Appropriate Technology” in Martin Parker, George Cheney, Valerie Fournier and Chris Land (Eds.) Routledge Companion to Alternative Organisation, Routledge, pp. 308-328, 2014. on Google Books

  • A solution to this general problem of access to critical information for sustainable development is the growth of open source appropriate technology.

[edit] Technology whose time has come

Joshua M. Pearce, “Technology whose time has come" Physics World 27(1), pp.33-37, 2014. open access

[edit] Criticism

This type of idea is clearly not mainstream and suffers from the same criticisms as open source software. In addition, it has been claimed that the decline of the appropriate technology movement is said to be part of the ‘remasculinization’ of US after the Vietnam War through the Reagan regime. [12] According to Pursell, AT failed because of the inability to counter advocates of agribusiness, large private utilities, and multinational construction companies. These groups maintained the elitist, narrow and traditional definition of the word ‘technology’ to forward their interests, and not those of the developing world.[12]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

  • For an ongoing discussion of OSAT see Agroblogger
  • Another excellent site is the P2P Foundation The Peer to Peer (P2P) Network function as a clearinghouse for open/free, participatory/p2p and commons-oriented initiatives.
  • Project Sunshine
  • Sustainablog
  • At the university level, the use of appropriate technology classroom projects has been shown to be successful in forging the connection between physics and social benefit: Joshua M. Pearce, "Physics Using Appropriate Technology Projects", The Physics Teacher, 45, pp. 164-167, 2007. pdf. This approach has the potential to use university students’ access to resources and testing equipment in furthering the development of appropriate technology. See service learning
  • National Geographic's list of good ideas [3]

[edit] References

  1. Free as in gratis and free as in libre - Gratis = This is sometimes expressed in the phrase, "free as in free beer", as distinct from Libre= "free as in free speech".
  2. Joshua M. Pearce, “The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology”, Environment, Development and Sustainability 14, pp. 425–431 (2012).
  3. 3.0 3.1 A. J. Buitenhuis, I. Zelenika and J. M. Pearce, “Open Design-Based Strategies to Enhance Appropriate Technology Development”, Proceedings of the 14th Annual National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance Conference : Open, March 25-27th 2010, pp. 1-12.
  4. Open Source, Development and Design Jamais Cascio, Available
  5. Starting an anti-patent-abuse appropriate technology political bloc? by Vinay Gupta, available: [1]
  6. Amy Kapczynski et al., “Addressing Global Health Inequities: An Open Licensing Approach for University Innovations,” Berkley Technology Law Journal 20 (2005): 1031-1114.
  7. Stephen M. Maurer, Arti Rai, and Andrej Sali, "Finding Cures for Tropical Diseases: Is Open Source an Answer?", PLoS Medicine 1, no. 3 (December 2004): 183-186.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Joshua M. Pearce and Usman Mushtaq, “Overcoming Technical Constraints for Obtaining Sustainable Development with Open Source Appropriate Technology”, Science and Technology for Humanity (TIC-STH), 2009 IEEE Toronto International Conference, pp. 814-820, 26-27 Sept. 2009.
  9. J. M. Pearce, "Physics Using Appropriate Technology Projects", The Physics Teacher, 45, pp. 164-167, 2007.
  10. Joshua M. Pearce, “Appropedia as a Tool for Service Learning in Sustainable Development”, Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 3(1), pp.45-53, 2009. Q-Space pre-print
  11. S. Murphy and N. Saleh, "Information literacy in CEAB’s accreditation criteria: the hidden attribute", In Proceedings of the The Sixth International Conference on Innovation and Practices in Engineering Design and Engineering Education, 2009. Hamilton, ON July 27–29, 2009.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Pursell, Carroll. "The Rise and Fall of the Appropriate Technology Movement in the United States, 1965 - 1985" Technology and Culture, Vol 34, No. 3: 629-637 (July 1993).