The case for open source appropriate technology
Environment, Development and Sustainability
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Much of the widespread poverty, environmental desecration, and waste of human life seen around the globe could be prevented by known (to humanity as a whole) technologies, many of which are simply not available to those that need it. This lack of access to critical information for sustainable development is directly responsible for a morally and ethically unacceptable level of human suffering and death. A solution to this general problem is the concept of open source appropriate technology or OSAT, which refers to technologies that provide for sustainable development while being designed in the same fashion as free and open source software. OSAT is made up of technologies that are easily and economically utilized from readily available resources by local communities to meet their needs and must meet the boundary conditions set by environmental, cultural, economic, and educational resource constraints of the local community. This paper explores both the open source and appropriate technology aspects of OSAT to create a paradigm, in which anyone can both learn how to make and use needed technologies free of intellectual property concerns. At the same time, anyone can also add to the collective open source knowledge ecosystem or knowledge commons by contributing ideas, designs, observations, experimental data, deployment logs, etc. It is argued that if OSAT continues to grow and takes hold globally creating a vibrant virtual community to share technology plans and experiences, a new technological revolution built on a dispersed network of innovators working together to create a just sustainable world is possible. © 2012 The Author(s).