Geek Heretic explains why technology can’t solve the poverty problem

Geek Heretic: For the Humanosphere podcast we talk with Kentaro Toyama on the limits of technological solutions to poverty and inequity.

Kentaro Toyama is a geek heretic, or at least, that’s what Tom Paulson dubbed him last year. Now it’s the working title for Toyama’s upcoming book. Toyama is a renowned computer scientist and expert in computer-human visual interactions. He helped launch Microsoft Research in India in 2005 and was dispatched by Bill Gates to find technological solutions to poverty and inequity. After giving it his best, Toyama decided technology, though useful, cannot fix poverty.

One of the commenters on Toyama’s ideas last year wasn’t convinced: “If he is only talking about current things like personal computers, sure. But when we get 3D Printers that can make more replicators, nanobots and the like, he is totally wrong.”

It’s certainly tempting to think that next generation of futuristic technologies can change the world. But Toyama has seen innovative technology rendered powerless, harmful even, in settings of severe poverty. He says the problems require even deeper solutions.

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So we get deep into the issues in the podcast. Listen in below.

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About Author

Ansel Herz

Ansel Herz is a freelance multimedia journalist whose objective is to “go to where the silence is." His work has been published by ABC News, The Nation magazine, the New York Daily News, Al Jazeera English, Free Speech Radio News, Inter-Press News and many other publications. A Seattle native and survivor of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ansel is producer of Humanosphere's podcast, among other things. You can contact him at ansel.herz[at]gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Ansel.