Independence and technology should go hand in hand. Of course, that would mean that our goals in technology are in sync with our goals for gaining independence through autonomy. In reality, few resources are used to develop the tools needed to make individuals self-sufficient. There are few good examples where technology has provided individuals a better means of producing what they need that is superior or even competitive with industry. For instance, the solar industry does not try to compete with the grid. Instead their approach is to supplement energy production and put it into the grid.
Using kinetic energy storage systems is a first step to make solar competitive. First developed by NASA for storage of energy in satellites, high-speed flywheels made it possible to store and supply energy in a highly efficient way over long periods of time. The drawback to the design is the high speed and possible fatigue of the rotor. Designing such systems for homes would not require high-speed rotors since weight is not a factor.
There are of course examples where technology tries to give individuals the tools of industry. Small business and home printing along with computers has become a huge industry. Can we do a better or more economical job of printing at home than industry? Almost never, so except for convenience, it makes little sense, yet the manufacture of home printers continues to grow.
Certain aspects of independence may never be reached on an individual basis. Few people will ever gain all the tools and knowledge to become wholly independent. However, that doesn’t mean that the structures we work and live in need to be tied to mass infrastructure. Because of the many advantages of producing autonomous structures, there is certainly logic to pursuing that goal.
How can technology solve our current problems and secure our future? First we must redefine our needs and how technology can meet them. It is important to realize that current building, manufacturing, distribution, and merchandising practices all require great infrastructure. Most of what they provide can be accomplished with much less or very little infrastructure if we take the OsumPODS approach, which in theory is to create autonomous communities.
In developing solutions, I quickly accepted the fact that it would take countless experts to produce the solutions. My focus is on building because I worked in the industry long enough to see the inefficiencies and the many problems of conventional construction. I realized that the first step was to conceive a plan that not only benefited the individual, but the collective as a whole. Individuals have always had the option of living in sync with Mother Nature, but because we value our creature comforts more than we value the health of the planet, most people have little incentive to change their ways at this particular moment. However, the moment is coming when we will have little choice but to change if we hope to survive.
I am not so different from anyone. I want my creature comforts. Although I love to walk, I have no desire to trek several miles to the grocery store and carry home a dozen sacks of groceries. I will not live in subzero temperatures or sweltering heat. If energy becomes a major factor for my comfort, I would, regrettably, pollute the Earth to stay comfortable. In fact, I do.
I believe there is a fair chance that the vast majority of people would make the right choices given alternatives to our current choices, thus the pursuit.