“A great science fiction detective story” - Ian Watson, author of The Universal Machine
Now Available for Instant Download! Click for details.
What is technology best at?
Producing goods? Overcoming obstacles? Wreaking destruction?
What technology is best at is making real magic. Like alchemy or wizardry, only genuine.
It’s morally neutral. It can do this for good or ill. Today I want to talk about the good.
The real science being done today is more advanced than many people realize and that brings even the most difficult goals tantalizingly close, including enhanced human intelligence and radically extended healthy human life. Just look at recent posts on:
- the creation of an artificial cerebellum (Artificial Cerebellums for Robots with Fine Motor Control)
- the accelerated regeneration of bone (Better Bones for a Fitter Future), and
- the creation of haptically sensitive artificial skin (The Skin We Live In: Skin for Robots, the Mechanics + the Meaning)
But the entire venture of technologizing humanity will fail in important ways if, in looking toward lofty goals like these, we lose sight of other goals that are equally important even if they’re more prosaic. Simple (but difficult) things like:
defusing the causes of much of human disfigurement and disability: war, poverty, and inequality.
devoting our resources toward making sure that technology is used not just so that a few people can reach the highest heights, but also to make sure that everyone can reach at least a basic minimum of physical and intellectual functionality.
It’s with that in mind that I want to introduce you to Jaipur Foot, the nickname of a non-profit organization whose full name is Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti. (It’s also non-religious, non-sectarian, and non-political.)
Jaipur Foot is the largest organization for the handicapped in the world, providing custom-made artificial limbs and other aids and appliances for free in 25 countries, including India (where it started).
So far it has benefitted more than 1 million people, without payment, without paperwork, and without delay. As its proponents are fond of saying: in the morning people crawl in, or are carried in, and later that day they walk out.
The program is the brainchild of D.R. Mehta, a former chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India, who now works as a full time volunteer for the group. It operates based on donations and it supplies each prosthetic limb at a cost (to itself, not to the person getting the limb) of about $45.00, so even a small donation goes a very long way. If you’re of a mind to donate you can find out how on the group’s web site.
You want to see what technology is best at? Watch the video.