Technology underpins human development. We need it to provide the very basics of a minimum standard of life – food, water, shelter, health and education. But a significant proportion of the world’s population do not have these basics today. And whilst a fifth of the world’s population lacks access to technologies fundamental to a basic standard of living, unfettered use of technology by those who have it brings its own problems – including pollution, global warming and threats to the sustainable future of humanity. So why are we so slow to address these issues? Why is it that the drivers of innovation mean we are more likely to see research into a cure for male baldness than a malaria vaccine or into methods for extracting shale gas as opposed to solutions to store renewable energy?
Table of Contents
We need to rethink the purpose of our technological endeavour and how we provide access to and govern the use of technology today.
We need to retool – to change the alignment of our innovation systems to deliver technology that is socially useful and addresses the key challenges of poverty and environmental sustainability.
Above all, our relationship with technology needs a reboot. We need a different frame of reference – Technology Justice – to provide a radically different approach to our oversight and governance of the development and use of technology.
Rethink, Retool, Reboot addresses vital questions regarding the future of our world and the people living in it. It should be read by academics, students, activists and all those interested in international development and the environment.
Prelims [Acronyms| Preface| Introduction
Part 1 – Rethink
Chapter 1 - Defining Technology and Technology Justice
What is Technology?
Chapter 2 - Technology Justice and Access to basic services
Justice as Fairness
The light bulb - will it ever catch on? (Access to energy services)
The tap – a technology whose time has finally come? (access to water and sanitation services)
Critical yet unavailable – access to Essential Medicines
Chapter 3 Technology Justice and Access to knowledge
Feeding the world – why the smallholder farmers need more support to access to technical knowledge
The digital divide
Conclusions - Technology Justice and Access
Chapter 4 – Technology justice and use.
Justice as compromise
Industrialised agriculture and biodiversity loss
Energy security and climate change
The demise of antibiotics and antimicrobials – a return dark ages for medicine?
Technology justice and use
Chapter 5 Rethinking Technology Access and Use
Part 2 – Retool
Chapter 6 – The link between technological innovation and economic development
Justice as a fair space for innovation
Technological innovation in neo classical economic growth models
The innovations systems approach
Innovations systems and developing economies – insights and problems
Chapter 7 – Technology Justice and Innovation Systems in Practice
Justice and the management of risk in technology innovation
Justice and the shaping of the purpose of technology innovation
Chapter 8: Intellectual property rights: part of the solution or part of the problem?
Do patents encourage innovation?
TRIPs, patents and the negative impacts on developing countries
Patents and other asymmetries of power.
Alternatives to the existing patent system
Chapter 9: Recognizing the Role of the State in Effective Innovation Systems
Venture capital and the valley of death – the case of the energy sector
Recognising reality – governments engage in entrepreneurial activity.
Changing the narrative – rebalancing expectations of the roles public and private sectors play
Chapter 10 – Re-tooling: making technology innovation work for people and planet
The need to re-tool
Responsible Research and Innovation – an emerging approach to governance?
Inclusive innovation – bringing in voices of the marginalised
Learning from the open source movement
Part 3 - Reboot
Chapter 11 – Reimagining technology as if people and planet mattered
The need to reboot our relationship with technology
Rebooting access – priorities and opportunities for change
Rebooting use – priorities and opportunities for change
Rebooting innovation – priorities and opportunities for change
Technology as if people and planet mattered
Back Matter [Epilogue – Is Small Beautiful?| Appendix 1: Failures to adhere to the precautionary principle| Appendix 2 – List of diseases defined as ‘neglected’ in GFINDER 2011| Bibliography]
‘Technology is always about politics and social justice: who wins, who loses, and what directions are chosen. This book puts these themes centre-stage in a clear and accessible style. Anyone interested in how technology can work for people, justice, sustainability and development should read it.’
Ian Scoones, Director ESRC STEPS Centre, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
‘This is an important book with an important message at a perfect time as the international development community struggles to get to grips with technology and innovation. Many of the answers to many of the development challenges are already out there, yet in our drive to showcase our innovative thinking we often turn our backs on them in favour of more complex, “smarter”, “innovative” solutions. Yet it is often the simpler ones that work best. “It is time”, as Simon reminds us, “to reboot our relationship with technology”. We need a people-first and problem-first approach at a time when many are technology-first. This book makes a hugely valuable contribution to the debate, and should be essential reading for technologists and policy makers alike.’
Ken Banks, Founder of kiwanja .net, and National Geographic Emerging Explorer
‘Technology is the great enabler, but uncontrolled use of technology can also pose a threat to humanity, as our experience of fossil fuels and climate change demonstrates. This book explores two crises - why so many people in the world are still without access to technologies necessary for even the most basic standard of living, and why the bulk of technology innovation fails not only to address their needs, but also the threat of environmental change that hangs over us all. A compelling argument for a change to the way we govern the development and use of technology and a recommended read for anyone interested in technology and justice.’
Jeremy Leggett, Founder of Solarcentury and SolarAid, Chairman of Carbon Tracker
‘Amidst the frenzy of global interest in digitization and robotization, this book brings the focus of technology back to where it is most needed: for empowering the world's poorest communities. Simon Trace's concept of Technology Justice is fresh, powerful and much needed.’
Kate Raworth, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University
‘If ever there was a time to re-think the role of technology, this has to be it. With a renewed emphasis on the Sustainable Development Goals and on climate change, technology is at the heart of all our hopes and many of our fears for the future. Covering all today’s “big issues”, Simon Trace provides a fresh and eloquent approach to innovation, governance issues and access to technology, compellingly brought together through this rallying call for Technology Justice.’
Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future
‘Simon Trace takes his inspiration from Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful but extends the metaphor of magnitude. Through careful use of data, case study and analysis he argues that scale is not in itself beautiful, but is the key to sustainability and impact. In reflecting on scale, on how small an intervention needs to be or how large it can conceivably be, Trace gets to the heart of technological innovation for development: it’s all about perspective. Trace shows us that if technology justice is about one thing it’s about bringing together perspectives that matter -- historical, contextual, technological, public, private and communal -- to shape scalable, sustainable innovation. Trace’s book is in some respects a 21st century reboot of Schumacher’s work and a hugely important contribution to our thinking around technology for development.’
James Smith, Professor of African & Development Studies, University of Edinburgh
‘Technology should never be considered as an ultimatum, that just because we can do something, we should. Even Winston Churchill who was fascinated by and obsessed with science and technology once famously said that it should be 'on tap, but not on top'. Simon Trace issues a comprehensive invitation to rethink what we ask of technology. Public debate is full of reports hypnotised by technological novelty and innovation for its own sake. But Trace reveals how low-tech solutions can often outperform high-tech ones -- delivering multiple benefits to the people who need them most. 'Rethink, Retool, Reboot' says it is time to move on, and critically assess each technology - whether it is the product of a small farmers workshop or a giant corporation's laboratory - to find what will really help us all thrive within planetary boundaries.’
Andrew Simms, co-director New Weather Institute, author Cancel the Apocalypse