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Tell me what you want to be and I will tell you the disease you could suffer

A prospective medical visit should ask the patient which is his life project, who he/she wants to be in the future and not if her grandmother had diabetes. In other words, “tell me what you want to be and I will tell you the disease you could suffer from”, paraphrasing Italian physician Bernardino Ramazzini, the father of occupational health.

If you want to be a great sportsman or woman, you could be exposed of suffering from muscular or heart diseases; if you want to work in an office scenario it is possible you will have obesity o muscular-skeletal diseases; but if you like mining or construction, you could be exposed to lung diseases.

According to Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Laboratory of Ergonomics and Human Factors Professor David Ernesto Puentes Lagos, “according to what each one wants for their future, they will know how to take care of themselves.”  In his Work Health and Safety master´s graduate thesis, which received a merit award, entitled, “Technology and prospectives at work: An approach to the future thinking of ergonomics”, he included the exploration or prediction of future (prospective) from the ergonomics point of view as an innovation in occupational health care.

Ergonomics is a science which deals with the performance of work systems and welfare of people through system theories and interaction.

Therefore, the work technologies develop an ample notion of the technology from the analysis of recognized authors such as Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, and German philosophers Martin Heidegger and Jürgen Habermas, to try to understand beyond the simple artifacts and incorporate aspects such as ideology, language and social representations of people over technology.

The research project proposes that with this new look, “include the possibility of anticipating or building future working conditions developing aspects of his notion such as the salary of the future or the workday of the future.”

When we behave as Ergon

Ergon is the task or function of a person within a social system, such as that developed by a carpenter, a physician or a chef and for what they require technology.

However, during the investigation, they carried out a survey with students and the results showed that anthropologists have a clearer concept of technology than designers or architects which work daily with technology, with the aggravating circumstance that some think that if it’s not new it isn’t technology.

Some things aren’t seen in technology, they are not tangible, but are there, like energy, data, and operation modes. Therefore we are part of technology, both individually and collectively.

“Back in the 70s, when they began to work with the programmed obsolescence concept, the product life cycle was debugged,” said Puentes.

With this new proposal, we need to consider two dimensions of technology: transformation (more traditional) and representation (the most novel). For the former, each individual can change his time and space intentionally, while the former is concealed as it has more connection with the market and consumption and implies ideology of every person and the language used.

Prospective thinking one can think about the short, medium or long term, as opposed to historical thinking. Therefore, work technologies can be thought of as how will everyday objects be in the future. Puentes is an expert in school furniture and says how in this area the classic wooden school desk has transitioned into lighter, colored and long-lasting desks and above all, more ergonomic.

Supervise or build technology

One of the things that caught the eye of the researcher in the preventive and historical character of healthcare he discovered during the project. “I began with a documentary review, looking on how healthcare technology was understood. I discovered that the more advanced models with respect to the thinking of the time are those promoting healthcare, more than related to determinism (concept according to a pre-established phenomenon) and causality (cause-effect relationship) which are more historic directed models. I later found preventionism, specifically with disease prevention and healthcare accidents,” he added.

Later he reviewed the thinking over time in the areas of healthcare. “In my masters on Work Safety and Security, I discovered that healthcare professionals regard on their general knowledge. They do not use prospective, promotion and prevention. In the meanwhile, some French thinkers such as Michel Godet say they can build the future.” However, he clarifies that to break the historical determinism and causality needs freedom, will and creative force.

Some thinking models which explain prospective are:

  • Forecasts
  • Construction of future scenarios
  • Building the future.
  • Linear and exponential regressions.
  • Premonitory or foretelling models

One of the discoveries of the researcher was a book on agricultural technology in Bolivia, where it says shaman education should not be lost among country folk because shamans know when and how to crop. Among future thinkers, shamans are premonitory thinkers based on data. They know the community, the environment and inherited millenary healing forms which project the future of the community.

A thinking model to predict the future was the Delphi method, so called by the Delphos, a sacred place and visited by the antique Greek to talk to the oracle, the same oracle in the motion picture Matrix. Their experts answer questionnaires in two or more rounds to become cognizant of where something goes in time. Other methods as the trend study are used in fashion design. The final result of the thesis proposes tow pathways: wait and supervise technology phenomena or build own technologies with the communities.

Look at the complete thesis project here (in Spanish)

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