P2P Lab and the IOH: Pilot Project in Bhutan

Building infrastructures for a new mode of production that is free, fair, and sustainable – and Recruitment for a Bhutanese Graduate Research Fellow

P2P Lab projects are to illustrate an emerging mode of production that builds on the convergence of digital commons (e.g. open-source software or designs) with local manufacturing technologies (from CNC machines to low-tech tools and crafts). Following are some examples:

  1. The case of open-source agricultural machines: Small-scale farmers need agricultural machinery to support their work. Big companies rarely produce machines specifically for small-scale farmers. And if they do, the maintenance costs are high and the farmers have to adjust their farming techniques to the logic of the machines. So, a community in France has designed and manufactured its own agricultural machines. The community shares its designs with the world – as a digital commons. Another community of small-scale farmers from the US has done the same. These two communities have connected and created synergies by improving the same digital commons. That’s the story of the co-operative L’Atelier Paysan and the nonprofit network FarmHack, which both produce open-source designs for agricultural machines. More info here.

  2. The case of open-source wind turbines: People of Mityal, a rural community in Southwest Nepal, needed to electrify the local health clinic. They connected with national and international commons-oriented communities interested in small-scale, off-the-grid wind turbines. Together they built a low-cost wind turbine based on open-source designs and software and using  local manufacturing technologies. A workshop took place so that the Mityal people can maintain the infrastructure themselves. More info here.

  3. The case of open-source prosthetic devices: Amputees are often disappointed at the high costs of buying and maintaining their prosthetic devices. This is a prosthetic hand created by a geographically distributed community of scientists, designers, and enthusiasts. All knowledge, software, and designs related to the manufacturing of such a hand are shared around the globe, as a digital commons. Therefore, anyone with an Internet connection and with access to local manufacturing machines can customize and build such an affordable and lightweight hand.

Goal for the Bhutan Research Study

To contribute to Bhutan’s decentralization vision especially for the agriculture communities through economic autonomy and technological innovation. The sector in Bhutan need not reinvent the wheel, as its people can benefit from open-source technologies and transnational cooperation. The state could build low-cost public infrastructures for a new mode of production that is free, fair, and sustainable:

  • “Free” because it is based on the free sharing of tangible infrastructures (e.g. shared machinery in community-based makerspaces) and intangible infrastructures (e.g. open-source designs, software). Thus, people can have access to means of production, which have a low cost of acquisition due to the absence of strict copyrights and patents.

  • “Fair” because it is based on participant-defined value systems. People are free to decide how to allocate value and organize their work once they have access to basic means of production.

  • “Sustainable” because it takes into consideration the local biophysical conditions and materials as well as the local needs and culture. Free knowledge, software, and designs are adaptable to local conditions.

Action Plan

  1. Visit of P2P Lab to Bhutan: Professor Wolfgang Drechsler, visiting Scholar at the Davis Center, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Professor at Tallin University of Technology at Estonia (https://www.iohbhutan.org/team/wolfgang-drechsler), on behalf of the P2P Lab shall visit Bhutan to work together with an interdisciplinary and inter sectoral team from IOH, Bhutan. A Bhutanese graduate research fellow to be recruited during this time.

  2. Recruitment of a Bhutanese Research Fellow: Both parties (i.e., the P2P Lab and the IOH teams) evaluate the developments so far. If both parties provide positive evaluations, the possibilities for further cooperation will be discussed. For example, a paid PhD positon may be created by P2P for a Bhutanese graduate fellow who will work within the Cosmolocalism project and get her/his PhD from Tallinn University of Technology. S/he would act as the liason and the coordinator of the Bhutan based pilot (phase B to start in late 2019 or early 2020).

    The Bhutanese research fellow should have relevant qualifications in agriculture and project management (preference given to Phd. Candidates) with work experiences of at least 5 years in the sector. He/She should be able to commit at least 3 years for the project. Remuneration shall be commensurate with qualification and experience. Please see the position details for more information.