TECHNOLOGY–SAVING THE WORLD?

I have written previous Blog Posts which suggested that you cannot look at other Cultures and Peoples, and expect to see mirror images of yourself and your own life.  Oftentimes, many areas of the World do not have: electricity; potable water; basic health care; sufficient food; medical services; etc.  What Americans regard to be the necessities of life, are considered by most of the World to be luxuries to only be dreamed of.

In a 2003 speech, Kofi Annan, when he was Secretary General of the United Nations, challenged Silicon Valley’s tycoons “…to ‘bring more of its remarkable dynamism and innovation to the developing world.”  The One Laptop per Child Program (providing cheap $100 laptops to poor children) was initiated; the “think/do tank Google Ideas” was established; programs to expand broadband to the 5 Million in the World that are currently without it; financier Bob King donated $150 Million to found the Stanford Institute for Developing Economies; etc.  But, will those solutions work?

Technology is not, however, the Holy Grail, at least not necessarily in every part of the Developing World as Technocrats think.  Part of their past successes have been to literally think outside the box, try other ideas and never give up.  But, how do you plan and develop for a society that you might not truly understand?  And, will those potential end users understand or need the benefits that the Technocrats suggest?

There are also infrastructural, cultural, educational and religious issues that are not envisioned by many in the Developed World. The linked article, “Can Silicon Valley Save the World?”, from “Foreign Policy” Magazine, provides an excellent description of this complex issue: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/06/24/can_silicon_valley_save_the_world?print=yes&hidecomments=yes&page=full.

There have been some excellent programs, implemented by the West, which have been very helpful, life-saving even, to many of the most primitive of Developing Countries: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has financed vaccinations to eradicate polio and river-blindness in Africa and South Asia; simple sleeping nets in mosquito-prone areas reduced malaria; humble bicycles to facilitate the transport of midwives and other health care providers between rural villages: Kids in Need of Desks (a UNICEF Program); are just a few of the ideas that have been quite successful.  But, as you can see, modern technology was not always the solution.

On the other hand, the widely-proclaimed “Soccet”, a soccer ball that costs $99 and can power an LED for three hours (but must be kicked around for 30 minutes before hand) can hardly match the power output–and effectiveness–of a $10 solar-powered lantern. The Soccet, by the way, was deemed a “brilliant idea” by “Popular Mechanics” Magazine and also hailed by the Clinton Global Initiative in 2011.  But, the focus should be on the end users.

As I have Posted before, the biggest mistak, at least to me, which the West has imposed on some of the poorest countries in the World is the excessive marketing of Baby Formula by Corporations, such as: Nestle (Gerber and Similac); Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson, among others, in countries that do not have clean water to mix with–thus causing diseases such as: cholera and typhoid fever.  Mothers‘ Milk is best; however, if the Mother cannot produces it herself, there are Breast Milk Banks all over. (Check with your Pediatrician, your Hospital or La Leche League.)  The prior Post was: https://thetruthoncommonsense.com/2012/09/18/the-best-drink-on-earth-mothers-milk/.

NOTE:  ANOTHER POST, A FOLLOW-UP ON MOTHER’S MILK, WILL FOLLOW.

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