Watering cans and simplicity.

The MaRS blog offers up an interesting anecdote from the Social Entrepreneurship Summit on Tuesday that validates the idea of Maeda-esque simplicity. David Smith writes that the CEO of an Indian tech firm “was presented with an inexpensive automatic sprinkler system, but refused to install it and instead chose to hire 65 women from the area who would otherwise be unemployed to use watering cans and perform the task manually as needed.”

In the search for socially empowering systems, let’s look to the authentic, analogue and human.

Link to MaRS Blog



mark_outhwaite's picture

low carbon economy requires labour intesification

An related item appearing in the Globe and Mail yesterday points to a UN study that challenges the assertion that a low carbon economy will precipitate a decline in global economic well being.

“There's every indication that there will be a net gain [in jobs] but probably not a very large net gain,” says Janos Pasztor, a senior UNEP official at the conference in Bali this week.

“The labour intensity of renewables is higher than those of fossil fuels or nuclear power" (Pasztor)

"The fears that this will turn into a job killer ... are unfounded,” said Peter Poschen, a development specialist at the U.N.'s International Labour Organization. “There is a huge opportunity for ‘green jobs.'”

Excerpts taken from the following article:

'Green jobs' to outweigh losses from climate change: UN
Alister Doyle, Reuters December 6, 2007 at 6:47 AM EST


I'm somewhat contrite now having read the item Denise provided a link to. Nearly a year ago I presented slides dealing with the issue of the human use of robotics, thinking about it as a sort of panacea that would release us to "be human." History has demonstrated the fallacy of this ideal on at least one occasion, which is that the promise of automation hasn't released very many in the declining cities in the United States (Detroit, Flynt) focused on automobile manufacturing to "be human."

It's been alluded to on at least on occasion (by EL P; "(I'll) replace humans like robots in a GM Factory..." - Fantastic Damage, Dex Jux Records.) that automation and robotics poses a few pernicious problems even as it solves others. Personnel have less reason to work in the relatively toxic and dangerous environment of automobile production, should the development of robotics and automation release them from tasks that were once the sole purview of human intelligence, pattern recognition and manual dexterity. With the example of having local women assist in the watering of a partition of landscape within their community, they're maybe 'releasing' them to be human in the sense that they are charged with the performance of a task that is very much authentic, analogue and human– taking care of living, delicate, vulnerable or otherwise valuable things. I think there remain tasks that humans should ought not to want to do, things better suited to machines but to be sure, automation and robotics aren't the panacea they were in the past promised to be.

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