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How tech is helping us individualise solutions to the world’s problems

Anna Biuso

This past week, I went to a Tech for Good event in Dublin. Tech for Good Dublin hosts events about once a month focusing on various themes about...well…. tech for good. What is brilliant about these events is it brings together people from all kinds of disciplines - it’s not just for tech experts! Tech for Good encourages anyone who is just interested in how to make the world a better place, no matter how knowledgeable you are in tech. Each event has a theme with a series of speakers who are involved in their everyday lives in said theme.

The event I attended the other day was focused on ‘Exploring Neurodiversity.’ What is neurodiversity you may ask? On the event’s webpage they explained this concept as, ‘variations in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood, and other mental functions. It can include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia and other variations which are often invisible to other people.’ When attending the event, I was blown away by the statistics they were giving about how many people are neuroily-diverse. Even more compelling was the tech based solutions the speakers were involved in order to create a more inclusive society. From myAccessHub, which uses video animation and virtual reality (VR) to help company’s build more inclusive workplaces for people with Autism, to using coding camps such as CoderDojo to help students with various disabilities build hard skills and confidence, there definitely is not a lack of innovation out there.

With all of this, I wanted to focus on one key idea that Lizbeth Goodman, founder and director of SMARTlab, spoke about first in the event. Lizbeth made a point of saying that solutions to global problems, such as inclusivity, cannot be spoken of in terms of universality. Universal solutions, she pointed out, assume that there is a ‘universal’ in the first place. That majority of people fall within a bell curve and those that fall outside of the majority are so miniscule that their needs don’t really matter. While she was saying this, I have to admit, I found myself thinking - well, I agree with this but how do make a solution practical enough to be implemented widely if we have to tailor each solution to each individual person?

This past week, I went to a Tech for Good event in Dublin. Tech for Good Dublin hosts events about once a month focusing on various themes about...well…. tech for good. What is brilliant about these events is it brings together people from all kinds of disciplines - it’s not just for tech experts! Tech for Good encourages anyone who is just interested in how to make the world a better place, no matter how knowledgeable you are in tech. Each event has a theme with a series of speakers who are involved in their everyday lives in said theme.

The event I attended the other day was focused on ‘Exploring Neurodiversity.’ What is neurodiversity you may ask? On the event’s webpage they explained this concept as, ‘variations in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood, and other mental functions. It can include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia and other variations which are often invisible to other people.’ When attending the event, I was blown away by the statistics they were giving about how many people are neuroily-diverse. Even more compelling was the tech based solutions the speakers were involved in order to create a more inclusive society. From myAccessHub, which uses video animation and virtual reality (VR) to help company’s build more inclusive workplaces for people with Autism, to using coding camps such as CoderDojo to help students with various disabilities build hard skills and confidence, there definitely is not a lack of innovation out there.

With all of this, I wanted to focus on one key idea that Lizbeth Goodman, founder and director of SMARTlab, spoke about first in the event. Lizbeth made a point of saying that solutions to global problems, such as inclusivity, cannot be spoken of in terms of universality. Universal solutions, she pointed out, assume that there is a ‘universal’ in the first place. That majority of people fall within a bell curve and those that fall outside of the majority are so miniscule that their needs don’t really matter. While she was saying this, I have to admit, I found myself thinking - well, I agree with this but how do make a solution practical enough to be implemented widely if we have to tailor each solution to each individual person?

The solution, I learned, was with smart technology that is easily adaptable to each individual person. The key, that speakers of the event so wonderfully showcased, is that AI in particular allows a solution to a given problem to be scalable and transferable without being generic. AI, virtual reality, etc… allow people to build a unique solution to their own particular problem by building upon existing technology. Thus, solving a problem on a global scale doesn’t necessarily mean you have to invent a brand new technology, but rather you can innovate with existing technology to find your own unique solution. In terms of neurodiversity, this means better inclusivity across society, which not only has the potential to make neurodiverse people happier and more fulfilled, but also means better productivity in business (after all if you can include everyone, your range of brain power only increases). Technology is making it feasible to individualise solutions while also making them scaleable. This is an incredible revelation, which means the ability to create and adapt solutions to fit all people will (hopefully) only increase with time.

The solution, I learned, was with smart technology that is easily adaptable to each individual person. The key, that speakers of the event so wonderfully showcased, is that AI in particular allows a solution to a given problem to be scalable and transferable without being generic. AI, virtual reality, etc… allow people to build a unique solution to their own particular problem by building upon existing technology. Thus, solving a problem on a global scale doesn’t necessarily mean you have to invent a brand new technology, but rather you can innovate with existing technology to find your own unique solution. In terms of neurodiversity, this means better inclusivity across society, which not only has the potential to make neurodiverse people happier and more fulfilled, but also means better productivity in business (after all if you can include everyone, your range of brain power only increases). Technology is making it feasible to individualise solutions while also making them scaleable. This is an incredible revelation, which means the ability to create and adapt solutions to fit all people will (hopefully) only increase with time.

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