Mastering the Machine Revisited: Poverty, Aid and Technology

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9781853395079: Mastering the Machine Revisited: Poverty, Aid and Technology
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'Mastering the Machine Revisted' is about the connection between poverty, aid and technology. It is about a search that has been going on, officially in the developing world for over forty years, and less officially in most countries since the beginning of time. It is a search driven today by more hard core poverty than has ever been known, and by a realization that the technologies applied to the problem have severe limitations. We have sent people safely to the moon but we cannot ensure that people will live safely on earth - safe from war, disease, and the crushing poverty that stifles ambition, hope and enterprise.

The book is about development that gives meaning to people’s lives, that is relevant to their resources and needs, and to the hopes they have for their countries and their children. It is about how appropriate technology fits into the larger picture of aid and development, and what it has accomplished in the fight against poverty. The book is about possibilities and limitations. It is about failure as well as success, arguing that too many aid failures have been ignored or hidden, condemning poor people to suffer the re-invention of too many wheels that never worked in the first place.

From the beginning of time, technology has been a touchstone of growth and development. 'Mastering the Machine Revisted' is about a hybrid era, one somewhere between the Bronze Age and the Internet, between sail and jet engines; one in which quality has become confused with quantity, and means with ends. For the South, this is a time of immense technological opportunity and optimism. It is also a period of unimaginable poverty and hopelessness. And it is unlike any other period in history, for today, in addition to artisans and artists, farmers, machinists and dreamers, the direction of technology is influenced by bureaucrats, economists, faraway corporate planners, aid agencies and charities. Never before have so many non-technical people exerted so much influence on the advancement, retardation, and movement of technology. Mastering the Machine Revisted is about the interaction between these people, and between poverty, aid and technology. Mastering the Machine Revisited ' is about the connection between poverty, aid and technology. It is about a search that has been going on, officially in the developing world for over forty years, and less officially in most countries since the beginning of time. It is a search driven today by more hard core poverty than has ever been known, and by a realization that the technologies applied to the problem have severe limitations. We have sent people safely to the moon but we cannot ensure that people will live safely on earth - safe from war, disease and the crushing poverty that stifles ambition, hope and enterprise.

The book is about development that gives meaning to people's lives, that is relevant to their resources and needs, and to the hopes they have for their countries and their children. It is about how appropriate technology fits into the larger picture of aid and development, and what it has accomplished in the fight against poverty. The book is about possibilities and limitations. It is about failure as well as success, arguing that too many aid failures have been ignored or hidden, condemning poor people to suffer the re-invention of too many wheels that never worked in the first place.

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About the Author:

Ian Smillie is an Ottawa-based development consultant and writer. He has lived and worked widely in Africa and Asia, and his knowledge of Bangladesh spans more than three decades. Author of several books on international development, he was a founder of the Canadian development organization, Inter Pares, and was Executive Director of CUSO. In addition to his other work, he is associated with the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University and serves as Research Coordinator on Partnership Africa Canada's 'Diamonds and Human Security Project'. He is a participant in the intergovernmental 'Kimberley Process,' which has developed a global certification system for rough diamonds.

Review:

"Read Smillie if you want something constructive." (The Economist)

"A rare book. A direct, no-nonsense investigation of poverty." (New England Review of Books)

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