Technology and Human Well-being

Neil Scott, The Archimedes Project, Stanford

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University May 10, 2002

To a large extent, human well-being is largely dependent on the possession of good health and other resources, which in turn, correlate positively with access to knowledge and the ability to earn a livelihood. While the Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for individuals to augment their knowledge and to improve job prospects there are many for whom poverty, illiteracy, disease and problems related to aging throw up seemingly impenetrable barriers. These problems are global in nature and finding practical solutions will require global strategies. I will show how the Archimedes Project is working with local and overseas universities and organizations to build a global collaboration network in which researchers in different countries can work together in virtual project groups to tackle these global access problems. I will give examples of projects that are underway and discuss opportunities for participation..

For nearly three decades, Neil Scott has worked to extend access to computers and information appliances, including to the elderly and to people with disabilities. His current efforts include collaborating on the development of standards for human-centered interfaces to computers and designing innovative technologies to assist the elderly and people with disabilities as well asand interfaces for smart houses and appliances and safer cars. One of his inventions, the Total Access System (U.S. Patent 6083270), which provides universal access to computer and other electronic devices through such technologies as speech recognition, head tracking, and eye tracking; it, was named among the five top innovations in computer hardware by Discover Magazine in their( 1997) innovation awards.

Born and educated in New Zealand, he served as Dean of the School of Physics, Electronics and Electrical Engineering at Wellington Polytechnic, in Wellington, New Zealand, where he spearheaded computer design, education, and training and became involved with adapting technology to serve people with disabilities. After emigrating to the United States in 1986, for two years he consulted in disability and subsequently for five years developed and directed one of the world's first major Computer Access Labs for students with disabilities at California State University, Northridge.

Scott's seminal influence on shaping how people will live, think, work, and play in the new millennium has won him recognition as a leading futurist (San Francisco Magazine , January 2000). A reviewer of disability-related grants for the National Science Foundation, he has served on several White House committees on access issues.


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