Building a national technology and innovation infrastructure for an aging society
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Technology and Policy Program.
Joseph F. Coughlin.
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This thesis focuses on the potential of strategic technology innovation and implementation in sustaining an aging society, and examines the need for a comprehensive national technology and innovation infrastructure in the U.S., capable of supporting the development and use of technologies by the aging population and their caregivers. The pervasiveness of population aging makes it a primary concern for nations around the world today. As the inadequacies of existing resources become apparent, policy makers .are now turning to technology and innovation to cope with the changing demographics. 'Technological innovations to accommodate the elderly have existed since centuries ago, and they been useful in extending the human capability beyond perceived limitations of aging. However, new technologies developed with the same objectives are not widely adopted and accepted by the aging population today. The thesis is divided into two complementary sections.(cont.) The first examines three hypotheses for the slow penetration rates of new technologies for aging: 1) Useful, affordable and usable technologies are unavailable, 2) Professional carers that can play a catalytic role between technological innovation and implementation are not technologically educated and prepared to incorporate the technologies into elderly care, and 3) The dynamics of policy formation and agenda setting are not conducive to the design and implementation of "technology for aging" policies. The second section consists of two comparative studies to highlight the gaps within the existing "technologies for aging" industry infrastructure. A study of the domestic automobile and mobile telecommunications industry provides a national perspective, whereas a study of eleven industrialized nations engaged in technological innovations for the elderly provides an international perspective. The research shows that useful, affordable and usable technologies are available, but their diffusion is hindered by inadequate human capital development and an unconducive policy formation and agenda setting climate.(cont.) The comparative studies further illuminate existing infrastructure gaps and also provide useful frameworks to facilitate the bridging of these gaps. By facilitating the development of a robust "technology for aging" infrastructure, policy makers can help to ensure that the U.S. is ready to meet the challenges of an aging population.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Engineering Systems Division, Technology and Policy Program, 2006.Includes bibliographical references (p. 181-192).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Technology and Policy Program.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Technology and Policy Program.