Open Source Appropriate Technology
Main > OSE > Guiding philosophies
- 1 OSE Context
- 2 Introduction
- 3 OSE Context
- 3.1 Benefits
- 3.2 Ethical Considerations
- 3.3 Support in the Literature
- 3.3.1 Full abstracts
- 126.96.36.199 The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology
- 188.8.131.52 Open Design-Based Strategies to Enhance Appropriate Technology Development
- 184.108.40.206 Overcoming Technical Constraints for Obtaining Sustainable Development with Open Source Appropriate Technology
- 220.127.116.11 A new model for enabling innovation in appropriate technology for sustainable development
- 18.104.22.168 Free and Open Source Appropriate Technology
- 22.214.171.124 Technology whose time has come
- 126.96.36.199 Innovation Through Collaboration: Scaling up Technological Solutions for Sustainable Development
- 3.3.1 Full abstracts
- 3.4 Criticism
- 3.5 See also
- 3.6 External links
- 3.7 References
OSE calls any technology appropriate when it is open source. This is because the transparency afforded by Open Source Development is likely to work out numerous 'bugs' or issues in the technology. Current, proprietary technology is by definition opaque, and many unintended consequences are likely to arise - potentially contibuting to Pressing World Issues.
Appropriate technology must be a technology that is beneficial and lifegiving, as opposed to leading to degeneration or destruction. OSE extends the tradition concept of Appropriate Technology - typically applied to lower technologies for developing countries - to a more general concept of what is 'appropriate.' OSE views open source and collaborative (see Open Source and Collaborative) as the critical element that makes a technology benign - for examply by unleashing access to life-giving production and productivity - while remaining ecologically benign, socially just, and most importantly - Regenerative. OSE also assumes that when basic needs are met on Maslow's Pyramid, people have a chance to evolve to Self-Determination.
Open source appropriate technology is likely to mitigate the negative aspects of the Singularity. Thus, moving forward, it is crucial that open source, collaborative development gain a strong foothold in order to mid-course correct the development of the technosphere. OSE envisions sufficient rise of Integrated Humans as part of that solution.
- Seminal paper by Dr. Joshua Pearce - http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10668-012-9337-9 (internal copy: File:Osat.pdf ).
- Text below is about the same topic. It has been transwikified from Appropedia under CC-by-sa license.
- Wikipedia: "Open Source Appropriate Technology"
- Open source appropriate technology (OSAT) refers to technologies that are designed in the same fashion as free  and open-source software. These technologies must be "appropriate technology" (AT) - meaning technology that is designed with special consideration to the environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economical aspects of the community it is intended for. The case for OSAT is made here. 
OSE emphasizes that:
- A prerequisite for a technology being appropriate is that it is open source, as otherwise, it would not be transparent
- Appropriate does not refer to the typical meaning of lower tech for the developing world - but refers to appropriate in the general sense of the term - in that it is life-giving and in general beneficial from an integrated or holistic perspective.
- Appropriate technology can be low tech or high tech, depending on the context
- The metric for appropriateness is in general how well a technology contributes to quality of life and regeneration of the world. OSE aims to capture all of the qualities of appropriateness in its key design specifications - the OSE Specifications
Open source is a development method for appropriate technology that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. Appropedia is an example of open source appropriate technology. Here anyone can both learn how to make and use AT free of patent concerns. At the same time anyone can also add to the collective open source knowledge base by contributing ideas, observations, experimental data, deployment logs, etc.
It has been claimed that the potential for open source appropriate technology to drive applied sustainability is enormous. The built in continuous peer-review can result in better quality, higher reliability, and more flexibility than conventional design/patenting of technologies. The free nature of the knowledge also obviously provides lower costs, particularly for those technologies that do not benefit to a large degree from scale of manufacture. Finally, OSAT also enables the end to predatory intellectual property lock-in. This is particularly important in the context of technology focused on relieving suffering and saving lives in the developing world.
The "open source" model can act as a driver of sustainable development. There are (at least) three good reasons:
- it enables production as well as consumption;
- it enables localization for communities that do not have the resources to tempt commercial developers to provide local versions of their products;
- it can be free as in "gratis" as well as free as in "libre" -- an important consideration for developing communities.
Although developing world problems are portioned remarkably low support for solutions, many researchers, companies, and academics do work on products meant to assist sustainable development. Vinay Gupta has suggested that those developers agree to three principles :
- I will not permit any human being to be deprived of life-giving technology by the profit motive.
- Any works that I patent I will make available to others who are engaged in humanitarian activity for free, except where this would breach other contractual responsibilities.
- I will not use patent law to slow the pace of innovation or service delivery to the needy under any circumstances.
Support in the Literature
- It has been investigated how open sharing of designs, specifications, and technical information can enhance effectiveness, widespread use, and innovation of appropriate technology.
- OSAT has been claimed to assist in development of medical technology particularly for the developing world .
- It has been claimed that the sharing of design processes, appropriate tools, and technical information enables more effective and rapid development of appropriate technologies for both industrialized and non-industrialized regions. In addition, it is claimed that this sharing will require the appropriate technology community to adopt open standards/licenses, document knowledge, and build on previous work. 
- At the university level, the use of open source appropriate technology classroom projects has been shown to be successful in forging the connection between physics and social benefit: This approach has the potential to use university students’ access to resources and testing equipment in furthering the development of appropriate technology. Similarly OSAT has been used as a tool for improving service learning.
See Also: Open Source Appropriate Technology Literature Review
The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology
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 IP 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.
- Joshua M. Pearce, “The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology”, Environment, Development and Sustainability 14, pp. 425–431 (2012). open access
In the news
- Discussion in the media of the use of semiconductor quantum dots to protect IP in 3D printing  discusses OSAT as an alternative.
- Gartner: 3D Printers to Reach 2.3 Million Shipments Totaling $13.4 Billion Worldwide by 2018 - 3D Printing Industry - discusses conflict over IP and trends in 3D printing
Open Design-Based Strategies to Enhance Appropriate Technology Development
The appropriate technology (AT) movement is being driven by inventors and innovators who are interested in designing technologies that are culturally, environmentally, and economically appropriate, and feasible to construct and use for people anywhere in the world. This paper examines how open sharing of designs, specifications, and technical information can enhance effectiveness, widespread use, and innovation of AT. This commons-based open design method has been highly successful for software development (i.e., open source), and has also begun to be used in other fields through unique partnerships and new information-sharing tools on the internet. This paper critically demonstrates key examples of open design successes that can be applied to development of AT. It also identifies potential barriers to open-sourcing AT designs, analyzes business models for open design in the context of AT, and outlines practical solutions with examples currently underway.
- Source and full text: A. J. Buitenhuis, I. Zelenika and J. M. Pearce, “Open Design-Based Strategies to Enhance Appropriate Technology Development”, Proceedings of the 14th Annual National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance Conference : Open, March 25-27th 2010, pp. 1-12.
Overcoming Technical Constraints for Obtaining Sustainable Development with Open Source Appropriate Technology
Open source appropriate technology (OSAT) refers to technologies that provide for sustainable development while being designed in the same fashion as free and open source software. Facilitated by advances in information technology software and hardware, new ways to disseminate information such as wikis and Internet-enabled mobile phones, the global development of OSAT has emerged as a reality. This paper shows the sharing of design processes, appropriate tools, and technical information is enables more effective and rapid development of appropriate technologies for both industrialized and non-industrialized regions. This sharing will require the appropriate technology community to adopt open standards/licenses, document knowledge, and build on previous work. This paper offers solutions in the form of both business models and tools to overcome technical constraints of OSAT development in the forms of the platforms necessary on which to share and build knowledge about appropriate technologies. These solutions are open, easily accessible for those in need, have a low barrier to entry for both users and information creators, and must be vetted in order to utilized as a trustworthy source on critical information needs. Current progress towards implementing these solutions will be reviewed and recommendations will be made to further increase the rate of OSAT development.
- Joshua M. Pearce and Usman Mushtaq, “Overcoming Technical Constraints for Obtaining Sustainable Development with Open Source Appropriate Technology”, Science and Technology for Humanity (TIC-STH), 2009 IEEE Toronto International Conference, pp. 814-820, 26-27 Sept. 2009.
A new model for enabling innovation in appropriate technology for sustainable development
The task of providing for basic human necessities such as food, water, shelter, and employment is growing as the world’s population continues to expand amid climate destabilization. One of the greatest challenges to development and innovation is access to relevant knowledge for quick technological dissemination. However, with the rise and application of advanced information technologies there is a great opportunity for knowledge building, community interaction, innovation, and collaboration using various online platforms. This article examines the potential of a novel model to enable innovation for collaborative enterprise, learning, and appropriate technology development on a global scale.
- Pearce J., Albritton S., Grant G., Steed G., & Zelenika I. 2012. A new model for enabling innovation in appropriate technology for sustainable development. Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy 8(2), pp. 42-53, 2012. open access
Free and Open Source Appropriate Technology
Joshua M. Pearce, “Free and Open Source Appropriate Technology” in Martin Parker, George Cheney, Valerie Fournier and Chris Land (Eds.) Routledge Companion to Alternative Organisation, Routledge, pp. 308-328, 2014. on Google Books
- A solution to this general problem of access to critical information for sustainable development is the growth of open source appropriate technology.
Technology whose time has come
Joshua M. Pearce, “Technology whose time has come" Physics World 27(1), pp.33-37, 2014. open access
- Joshua Pearce describes how physicists can help bring simple, affordable and life-changing devices to people and laboratories all over the world, using the concept of open-source appropriate technology.
Innovation Through Collaboration: Scaling up Technological Solutions for Sustainable Development
I. Zelenika and J.M. Pearce, “Innovation through collaboration: scaling up solutions for sustainable development”, Environment, Development and Sustainability 16(6): 1299-1316 (2014). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10668-014-9528-7 open access
- The open collaborative philosophy employed in the success of open source (OS) software can be applied to hardware design. Specifically, the development of OS appropriate technologies (OSAT) can improve sustainable development efforts worldwide. Yet, widespread OSAT use is far from ubiquitous. Given that lack of communication, access to information and poor collaboration are among the largest barriers to a more effective OSAT dissemination, this paper explores opportunities to overcome such obstacles using four techniques: (1) collaborative online platforms, (2) crowd-sourcing, (3) the concept of knowledge commons, and (4) enabled educational institutions through service learning and applied research. The results are analyzed, and conclusions are drawn that outline paths to higher multiuser collaboration for OSAT deployment.
This type of idea is clearly not mainstream and suffers from the same criticisms as open source software. In addition, it has been claimed that the decline of the appropriate technology movement is said to be part of the ‘remasculinization’ of US after the Vietnam War through the Reagan regime.  According to Pursell, AT failed because of the inability to counter advocates of agribusiness, large private utilities, and multinational construction companies. These groups maintained the elitist, narrow and traditional definition of the word ‘technology’ to forward their interests, and not those of the developing world.
- Applied Sustainability
- Appropriate Technology
- Open Design
- Sustainable Development
- Writings on Open Source Appropriate Technology
- Open Source Appropriate Technology Literature Review
- Appropriate technology open collaborations
- Akvo ATOC - Conclusions and recommendations
- For an ongoing discussion of OSAT see Agroblogger
- Another excellent site is the P2P Foundation The Peer to Peer (P2P) Network function as a clearinghouse for open/free, participatory/p2p and commons-oriented initiatives.
- Institute for Appropriate Technology
- Project Sunshine
- At the university level, the use of appropriate technology classroom projects has been shown to be successful in forging the connection between physics and social benefit: Joshua M. Pearce, "Physics Using Appropriate Technology Projects", The Physics Teacher, 45, pp. 164-167, 2007. pdf. This approach has the potential to use university students’ access to resources and testing equipment in furthering the development of appropriate technology. See service learning
- National Geographic's list of good ideas 
- ↑ Free as in gratis and free as in libre - Gratis = This is sometimes expressed in the phrase, "free as in free beer", as distinct from Libre= "free as in free speech".
- ↑ Joshua M. Pearce, “The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology”, Environment, Development and Sustainability 14, pp. 425–431 (2012).
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 A. J. Buitenhuis, I. Zelenika and J. M. Pearce, “Open Design-Based Strategies to Enhance Appropriate Technology Development”, Proceedings of the 14th Annual National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance Conference : Open, March 25-27th 2010, pp. 1-12.
- ↑ Open Source, Development and Design Jamais Cascio, Available
- ↑ Starting an anti-patent-abuse appropriate technology political bloc? by Vinay Gupta, available: 
- ↑ Amy Kapczynski et al., “Addressing Global Health Inequities: An Open Licensing Approach for University Innovations,” Berkley Technology Law Journal 20 (2005): 1031-1114.
- ↑ Stephen M. Maurer, Arti Rai, and Andrej Sali, "Finding Cures for Tropical Diseases: Is Open Source an Answer?", PLoS Medicine 1, no. 3 (December 2004): 183-186.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Joshua M. Pearce and Usman Mushtaq, “Overcoming Technical Constraints for Obtaining Sustainable Development with Open Source Appropriate Technology”, Science and Technology for Humanity (TIC-STH), 2009 IEEE Toronto International Conference, pp. 814-820, 26-27 Sept. 2009.
- ↑ J. M. Pearce, "Physics Using Appropriate Technology Projects", The Physics Teacher, 45, pp. 164-167, 2007.
- ↑ Joshua M. Pearce, “Appropedia as a Tool for Service Learning in Sustainable Development”, Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 3(1), pp.45-53, 2009. Q-Space pre-print
- ↑ S. Murphy and N. Saleh, "Information literacy in CEAB’s accreditation criteria: the hidden attribute", In Proceedings of the The Sixth International Conference on Innovation and Practices in Engineering Design and Engineering Education, 2009. Hamilton, ON July 27–29, 2009.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Pursell, Carroll. "The Rise and Fall of the Appropriate Technology Movement in the United States, 1965 - 1985" Technology and Culture, Vol 34, No. 3: 629-637 (July 1993).