Josh Cohen: Mobile Development Meets Design Thinking

Staff Writer | CDDRL News | September 23, 2010

Joshua Cohen, Professor of Political Science, Philosophy and Law at Stanford University, began the first session of this quarter's Seminar on Liberation Technologies by posing a big question: are information and communication technologies able to advance human well-being for development? After all, Mobile ICT has potential to be a good thing for development for a multitude of reasons. First, as Solow's model of growth has shown, technological innovation tends to be good for growth. Second, economic growth is closely related to development. Third, mobile phone usage is rapidly growing and indigenous in much of the world, which means that new technologies do not need to be "parachuted" in to scenarios where they are not matched to local needs. Finally, there is high mobile penetration today, even in low-income settings.

Several pieces of evidence from recent literature seem to provide support for the suggestion that ICT can advance development.