Open-source appropriate technology
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Open-source appropriate technology (OSAT) is appropriate technology developed through the principles of the open-design movement. Appropriate technology is technology designed with special consideration to the environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economic aspects of the community it is intended for. Open design is public and licensed to allow it to be used, modified and distributed freely.
Open source is a development method for appropriate technology that utilizes distributed peer review and transparency of process.
Open-source-appropriate technology has potential to drive applied sustainability. 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 provides lower costs, particularly for those technologies that benefit little from scale of manufacture. Finally, OSAT enables the end to predatory intellectual property lock-in. This is particularly important for relieving suffering and saving lives in the developing world.
In an article published on Harvard Business Review, Vasilis Kostakis and Andreas Roos argue that the "open-source" model can act as a driver of sustainable development, since it enables localization for communities that do not have the resources to tempt commercial developers to provide local versions of their products, thus minimizing the need to ship materials over long distances and organizing material activities accordingly. Local manufacturing would also make maintenance easier and encourage manufacturers to design products to last as long as possible. The technology can be free as in "gratis" as well as free as in "libre", an important consideration for developing communities. According to the lateral scaling concepts of Jeremy Rifkin, it thus optimizes the sharing of knowledge and design as there are no patent costs to pay for.
- I will not permit any human being to be deprived of life-giving technology by the profit motive.
- 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.
- I will not use patent law to slow the pace of innovation or service delivery to the needy under any circumstances.
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.
- OSAT has been proposed as a new model of enabling innovation for sustainable development.
- OSAT has been claimed to assist in development of medical technology particularly for the developing world.
- 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. 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.
- OSAT can be used to generate renewable energy
- OSAT in ICT
- OSAT and peer production
The Apropedia Foundation is a non-profit organization running Apropedia, the largest wiki documenting schematics, ideas, observations, experimental data, deployment logs etc. about patent-free appropriate technology, permaculture and related subjects.
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. This approach has the potential to use students' access to resources and testing equipment in furthering the development of appropriate technology. Similarly, OSAT has been used for improving service learning. MIT studied the usefulness of appropriate technology in education and its relation to OSAT.
Fracture mechanics, ergonomics/ user friendly design, and user centred design; All factor in to create a high quality, new and improved product not to mention the use of smart materials like graphene.
In scientific equipment
- Open source hardware for science can also be considered OSAT. Hundreds of scientific tools have already been developed and shared. Recently (2014) open source labs have been proposed.
Appropriate technology is designed to promote decentralized, labor-intensive, energy-efficient and environmentally sound businesses. Carroll Pursell says that the movement declined from 1965 to 1985, due to an inability to counter advocates of agribusiness, large private utilities, and multinational construction companies. Recently (2011), several barriers to OSAT deployment have been identified:
- AT seen as inferior or "poor person's" technology
- Technical transferability and robustness of AT
- Insufficient funding
- Weak institutional support
- The challenges of distance and time in tackling rural poverty
- Applied sustainability
- Appropriate technology
- Engineering for Change
- Open design
- Open manufacturing
- Sustainable development
- Joshua M. Pearce, "The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology", Environment, Development and Sustainability, 14, pp. 425-431 (2012)
- Pearce, J. M. (2014). Free and open source appropriate technology. in The Routledge Companion to Alternative Organization, 308. ISBN 9780415782265
- 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
- Kostakis, Vasilis. Roos, Andreas. New Technologies Won’t Reduce Scarcity, but Here’s Something That Might. Harvard Business Review, 2018.
- Zelenika and J.M. Pearce, Innovation Through Collaboration: Scaling up Technological Solutions for Sustainable Development, Environment, Development and Sustainability 16(6): 1299-1316 (2014). doi:10.1007/s10668-014-9528-7
- Rifkin, Jeremy. The zero marginal cost society: The internet of things, the collaborative commons, and the eclipse of capitalism. Macmillan, 2014. ISBN 978-1137278463
- Vinay Gupta, "Starting an anti-patent-abuse appropriate technology political bloc?"[dead link]
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- 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.
- Sinha, S.R. and Barry, M., 2011. Health technologies and innovation in the global health arena. New England Journal of Medicine, 365(9), pp.779-782.
- 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 September 2009
- Louie H. Experiences in the construction of open source low technology off-grid wind turbines. In2011 IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting 2011 Jul 24 (pp. 1-7). IEEE.
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- Rocco, Grant (October 1, 2015). "Developing Maker Economies in Post-Industrial Cities: Applying Commons Based Peer Production to Mycelium Biomaterials". Masters Theses. doi:10.7275/7047367.
- "Appropedia Foundation". United Nations Volunteers. Retrieved 2020-09-14.
- J. M. Pearce, "Teaching Physics Using Appropriate Technology Projects", The Physics Teacher, 45, pp. 164–167, 2007
- 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
- S. Murphy and N. Saleh, "Information literacy in CEAB's accreditation criteria: the hidden attribute", In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Innovation and Practices in Engineering Design and Engineering Education, 2009. Hamilton, ON July 27–29, 2009
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- 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)
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