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World-Changing Ideas

Raspberry Pi's Eben Upton: A self-employed world

If we let people control technology rather than being its slave, it will lead us away from a world where we work for large corporations and towards one where we can turn our own ideas into reality, thinks Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton.

For the last 20 years we’ve become alienated from technology, says Upton. For many of us technology exists to consume things produced by other people.

In the 1980s, people could learn to program on their home computers, and for Upton it proved to be a transformative experience – it provided a feeling of power when as a child he felt powerless. Now we live in a world of fixed-function devices like games consoles that are non-programmable, or computers that are programmable but it’s hard to learn how.

But as shown by his Raspberry Pi project, a cheap, credit-card-sized computer designed to encourage teaching of programming in schools, children and adults really want to have a deeper relationship with technology. They want to be able to control the technology around them, rather than be its slave.

So you can begin to imagine a world where many people have ideas and can turn those ideas into reality, without having to join a large organisation and give up a part of the value that they create. This self-employed world would lead to a massive increase in productivity and would open the door to a massive improvement in individual wellbeing, thinks Upton.

If you look back in history, people used to work for themselves, it’s only in the last 200-300 years that we have had more of a corporatist era, where more and more people work for large companies. These things are always driven by changes in technology. If we give people access to tools, and allow them to control their environment and destiny, Upton thinks it will allow us to progress down the road to a self-employed future. 

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