Editor’s Note: This article is excerpted from Longevity Rules: How to Age Well Into the Future, a compendium 0f 34 excellent essays where leading longevity experts help policymakers and the public better understand the aging experience. In the essay below, Joseph Coughlin, the Director of MIT AgeLab, explores the role that technology can play in aging well. Copyright 2010, Eskaton.
Aging is not for wimps. While living longer has become remarkably commonplace, living well takes a lot of work. Longevity is creating new and expanded “jobs” for individuals, families, formal caregivers and public agencies. During the past decade many have argued that technology is the answer to aging — without really asking what the question is. This definition of the “aging and technology opportunity” is driven by those who are wildly passionate about invention, but not fluent in the art of innovation — that is, putting ideas to practical use. The questions that should be asked by policymakers, business and the aging community are:
- What are the jobs of aging services that we are trying to achieve?
- How might technology and collaborative partnerships accomplish these tasks or produce superior outcomes?
- Where should policymakers and business direct their limited resources to creatively exploit technology to enable individuals and families to live better — not just longer?