20 February 2006

Electricity for the masses

I like Dean Kamen's economic model of putting power in the hands of the masses - literally - but I wonder if it's enough. He has a machine that can provide enough electricity so that each family in a poor village can have a single efficient lighbulb (I'm assuming CFL), which CNN Money says will provide "an extension of both their productivity and their leisure times," but I really wonder what good it will do besides creating more countries with insomnia issues.

The other machine Kamen introduces, a water purifier the size of a washing machine, seems a *much* better idea to me, in that it seems to have the direct benefit of improving the health of the communities.

The biggest drawback I can see to the whole thing is again with the economic model they suggest - while I think it's better to put these things in the hands of "the people," it won't really be the people who have it, it'll be the single richest person in each town, who will continue to get richer by charging their former peers for their use.

No comments: