BY Joseph OAKON
I have often believed that technologies are created in response to a cultural problem. A certain technology isn’t created in isolation from the cultural space within which it finds itself. The Stone Age came with responses based on the insights men could deduce from the Stone Age. Striking two stones, one against the other brought a spark of fire. As crude as that may have seemed, tenants of that era were able to build for themselves solutions that solved their immediate problems.
It is interesting to know that as culture births technology, technology in turn births new cultures. Recent developments in technology have brought about the field of Artificial Intelligence; now, Augmented Reality now holds sway. These new realities are beginning to diffuse from the areas of higher concentration to those of lower concentration. Now, this forms the basis upon I write this piece. Are we supposed to import ‘technovation’ meant for another culture into ours considering our cultural realities?
Hitachi has a new security system designed for airports with the capacity to capture every piece of detail about you as you walk within the space. It is apt for crowded places. It follows you literally and can classify you based on more than hundred characteristics, which include your age, sex, cloths, your luggage and more. It’s no magic, but a clear display of techno-logic specifically designed for safety, considering the rising profiles of terrorists’ invasions and bombings. I kind of find this to simply be a technological response to a peculiar cultural problem, even though it is not without its own challenges.
I see that creation as a particular invention for a general problem as faced by many. However, there’s this originality about this invention that stems from the fact that in Japan there is a rising demand for such technologies because of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Here again is why I mentioned that cultural needs create technological inventions.
My take is that as the African business invents and innovates, the intent should be built on the realities of our cultural needs. While it is clear that we do not need flying cars just yet in Africa, we can create technologies that will aid making good roads faster, cheaper and more durable. We should seek technologies that will help us address our poor maintenance culture and attitude to development. Our problems are unique to us; I submit that our approach to such problems should be unique as well. Homegrown technologies will always meet the real needs of our cultures anytime and every other day. We can’t be talking about robots in our factories just now when there are millions of youthful hands seeking employment without educating our youths on how to use these or fit into such schemes. Our approach should solve our problems not aggravate them. It may work for the technologically advanced regions, but we need to factor into ours the core realities of our cultures.
We need to face the real African problems not flying cars.