The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Appropriate technology

Appropriate technology is a term which refers to using the simplest and most benign level of technology which can effectively achieve the intended purpose.

Another approach to the term, among advocates of voluntary simplicity (sometimes termed Luddites by others), is that appropriate technology is technology whose risk/cost/value tradeoff is compelling enough to justify continued use.

The term came into use during the 1973 energy crisis and the environmental movement of the 1970s. E. F. Schumacher of the UK was one of the originators of the concept.

A related term, intermediate technology, refers specifically to tools that cost more than those currently in use in a developing nation but much less than those that would be used in a developed nation. This is a first step towards "appropriate" criteria.

Appropriate technology is often used to describe technologies, like wind power, that provide an alternative to fossil fuels. Also, it is sometimes used to describe things like the telephone, radio and television that can reduce the need for travel or replace print. Such usage is controversial, as, very often, windmills or electronics may rely on very high technology elsewhere. It is usually only "appropriate" to use technologies that can at least be locally repaired. Which technologies are truly "appropriate" remains a matter of ongoing debate among those that have pioneered the concept.

However, many advocates of the term and the changes that it implies extend it even to the "highest" technologies when those technologies are, in fact, the technologies best fitted to their applications.

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Last updated: 05-07-2005 09:55:56
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04