Department of Geography and Earth Sciences Centenary Lecture Series
Technology Justice – why it’s time to reboot our relationship with technology
Simon Trace CBE
7pm Tuesday 14th March 2017
A6 – Llandinam Building
Department of Geography and Earth Sciences
Technology underpins human development. We need access to it to provide the very basics of a minimum standard of life – food, water, shelter, health and education. But today around a fifth of the world’s population lacks access to a set of technologies fundamental to a basic standard of living. Meanwhile unfettered use of technology by those who have it brings its own problems. Our addiction to fossil fuel technologies has kick-started global warming. The adoption of green revolution technologies and the industrialisation of agriculture has resulted in an era of cheap food (at least in the developed world), but at a cost of heavy damage to the ecosystems we and other species rely on. And in the health sector we see a collapse in the effectiveness of antibiotics as a consequence not only of their over-prescription amongst the human population, but also their wildly irresponsible use in agriculture both as a prophylactic and a growth promoter in livestock.
Meanwhile our collective technological innovative efforts are often facing in the wrong direction. We are more likely to see research funding for a cure for male baldness than a malaria vaccine or for exploring new methods for extracting shale gas as opposed to solutions for storing renewable energy. This presentation argues that it is time for us to reboot our relationship with technology. We need a new approach to governing the access to and use technology and a different set of drivers to realign our innovation systems to deliver technology that is socially useful and that addresses the key challenges of poverty and environmental sustainability. It considers how we might use a different frame of reference – Technology Justice – to provide a radically different approach to our oversight and governance of the development and use of technology.
Simon Trace is an independent consultant and writer on international development and technology. His book Rethink, Retool, Reboot: Technology as if people and planet mattered, was published by Practical Action Publishing in July 2016.
A chartered engineer with an MA in anthropology, Simon has 35 years’ experience of work in the international develop sector on access to basic services (water, sanitation and energy), sustainable food production, and natural resource management. He was the CEO of the international NGO Practical Action from 2005 to 2015 and, prior to that, the international director of the NGO WaterAid. Simon is a trustee of the European Environment Foundation and has served on a number of international panels including the Steering Group for the Global Tracking Framework of the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative and the external advisory panel for the World Bank’s Readiness for Investment in Sustainable Energy index. He is currently a member of the Strategic Advisory Group for the UK Government’s £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund.
A drinks reception will be held ahead of this event from 6.30 onwards in the Think Tank of the Llandinam Building