Humane Technology #3: Take Human Values as a Cornerstone

Allison Guy
May 13th 2011

The third principle of humane technology: It should take human values as a cornerstone of its development.

Technology doesn't have to be expensive or electronic to be humane. Think of it as the Occam's Razor of humane technology. The simpler the solution, the better the outcome. For instance, the Hippo Water Roller makes it significantly easier for poor, rural communities to haul water from a lake or river back to their homes. Rolling water, rather than carrying it, reduces stress on the body and frees up time for other tasks.

Taking human values into consideration for technology goes beyond basic humanitarian aims. The development of humane tech should consider the fact that any new device will be nested within a rich network of social actors. Designers needs to keep an eye on the societal and environmental ramifications of novel technologies and act accordingly.

See also the LifeStraw, Adaptive Eyewear and the dubiously world-changing One Laptop Per Child. These might not be the most Next Nature-esque technologies we have featured here, but they're certainly worth a ponder.

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Should men be able to give birth to children?


Joyce Nabuurs: To me this question seems to be a logical next step in the emancipation movement of the past century. More and more women entered the workspace, but the responsibility for pregnancy and childrearing remained female.

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