Appropriate Technology

Somewhat a loaded term, but applicable as I see it. Generally, the notion of “appropriate technology” applies when we talk about renewable or sustainable technologies. So solar panels, LEDs, that sort of thing. Some of these apply almost anywhere, but some do not. For example, in cloudy Michigan you most like will not get as much mileage out of your solar panels as a Californian will. We can’t apply every technology everywhere, we must be careful of the environment it is placed in. Essentially, the point is to be careful of “When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” syndrome. But can we consider currency as a technology?

Merriam-Webster defines Technology as “the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area” – so currency as applying economics to facilitate trade seems reasonable to me. Generally, it is taught that currency evolved to solve the issue of double coincidence. If in a bartering society I want to trade some of my apples for oranges, I need to find some who 1) wants apples and 2) has oranges to trade. In order for me to trade two coincidences must occur.

So what happens in a life threatening illness? If I get mortally sick, Is there anything I won’t give up for a cure? Does the issue of double coincidence apply?

If we regard human lives as having infinite value, we should make note that our lives from our perspective are uncountably infinite value and the lives of others are countably infinite, to borrow a math term. Basically, we hold our lives in higher regard because we are at the center of it, but also acknowledge others as being invaluable. So when faced with the question of bartering for a cure, any enumerable good will be trade for something of infinite value (life). This is why I think there is so much price gouging in pharmaceuticals and in education. We are applying a technology for enumerable goods to “goods” of infinite or transfinite value. Is there an appropriate technology for healthcare and education?

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