Increasing Scope of Accessability of Technology

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Andrew Zolli on the Micro-Everything Revolution :

"The plunging per-unit cost of various forms of technological functionality, which in turn has enabled access to technology across much of the Global South. The cost of say, wirelessly transmitting a gigabyte of data, sequencing a human genome or detecting a novel pathogen is decelerating rapidly. This is because, as the underlying technologies increase their capacity, they also become more efficient, in terms of materials, energy, economics, space and time. What yesterday took a million dollars and a machine the size of a school bus to achieve, will just as likely be done tomorrow in a millisecond, for a few pennies, in the palm of your hand.

It’s this second, decelerating price curve that has already put mobile phones into the hands of five billion people on Earth, along with $25 learning computers, $0.10 point-of-care diagnostics, affordable solar microgrids, and countless other innovations aimed at the global base of the pyramid. In so doing, this second curve continues to expand the Scope of the Accessible and power the micro-everything revolution.


Last year, Harvard microbiologist Sarah Fortune and computer scientist Lukas Biewald, of CrowdFlower, launched a microwork initiative designed to enable citizens in communities in the Global South, which are adversely affected by illnesses like tuberculosis, to do paid lab work, over the Internet, for biomedical research labs in the Global North. This approach makes the labs more efficient, accelerating their search for a cure, while the communities receive a social benefit: employment. A true win-win.

Or, consider Kilimo Salama, the mobile-based agricultural microinsurance program pioneered by Rose Goslinga and her colleagues in Kenya, which we’ve referenced in this Edition. By harnessing a host of low-cost technologies, including a network of wireless weather stations, mobile devices, and mobile payments systems, Kilimo Salama is able to bundle together contracts from many smallholder farmers and insure them against climate change-induced crop loss--backed up, ultimately, by major reinsurers in Geneva. Without low-cost-enabling technological platforms, it would be both financially prohibitive and logistically impossible to deliver this service.

Now push the model a little further. The meteorological “data exhaust” from Kilimo Salama may be used to compute--remotely--ever-more powerful regional climate models on which the insurance itself is predicated. And these, in turn, could shape real-time mobile information services that make the farmers themselves more resilient to disruptions.

This intertwining of advanced capacity and new kinds of access is just getting started. One day soon, new technologies, such as low-cost, Internet-enabled microfabrication platforms like FabLab and RepRap will do for atoms what cellphones and computers have done for bits, enabling entirely new forms of making, sharing and selling among previously excluded communities." (