It’s an uninspiring truism to say that technology has changed our lives in ways that we never imagined. But as the iPhone 5 is cheered as one of humanity’s greatest developments since the first slice of bread, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate how. Is technology creating new opportunities for healthy, active and engaged aging? This question may be less fun than asking Siri the meaning of life, but the answer to it may well shape the social and economic success of the twenty-first century and how happy we can be in this new era of older societies.
Our tech-savvy, app-obsessed, 24-hour-plugged-in culture doesn’t seem to care much about how technological innovation can transform population aging from an economic sinkhole into a foundation for growth and shared prosperity. For all the “progressive” and “visionary” mythos that lionize Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, the kids in California are pretty far behind the curve on this one.
Yet, while the iPhone 5 hysteria reached its tipping point, a horde of policy wonks, academics and business leaders got together in Tokyo to ask the right questions about how technological innovation can write a better future for an aging society.
At Waseda University in Tokyo, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) held a joint conference entitled, “Anticipating the Special Needs of the 21st Century Silver Economy: From Smart Technologies to Services Innovation.” The conference may sound less sexy than Apple’s unveiling of the iPhone — and, make no mistake, it was — but its significance might just be even greater. READ MORE.
In Juanga, India, a village of less than 3,000 inhabitants, the adults typically work as farmers on small plots of land earning less than $2 a day. They live in extended families in two or three roomed bamboo thatched mud huts, surviving on rice and dahl.
Unable to see the value of education, the parents typically take their children out of school before they turn 16 to earn money. Women frequently deny themselves trips to health clinics and they lack knowledge of basic preventative healthcare measures.
They also lack basics such as drinking water, electricity, food, healthcare and infrastructure, but cell phone towers are often ubiquitous.
One American non-profit organization is using this proliferation of phone masts to bring empowering mobile technology to these destitute villagers. READ MORE.
Swedish telecom giant Ericsson released a Traffic and Market Report in which it predicts that 85% of the world’s population will be covered by high-speed internet as early as 2017. It estimates that the total number of mobile broadband subscriptions will quintuple from 1.1 billion today to 5 billion in 2017. In the same period, smartphone subscriptions will rise from 700 million to 3 billion. READ MORE.