Democratising technology

lundi 6 décembre 2004


The great disparities in quality of life between the fully industrialised and less industrialised countries are mirrored by a ‘technology divide’. The lack of access by billions of women and men to the most basic technologies and the resources needed to create sustainable livelihoods helps perpetuate poverty, disease and hunger. The concept of ‘technology transfer’ has long been presented by the international community as a means to address this great divide.

Those proposing greater investments in scientific research often claim that technology transfer and globalised free trade will close the technology divide, and
equalise opportunities among countries. In a report published by the United
Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Jörg Mayer recently went so far
as to suggest that globalisation would ‘ignite a virtuous circle of technological
upgrading and skill accumulation in technological latecomers.’

It is easy to see why a consensus exists between most governments that technology transfer contributes to economic growth and poverty reduction.
Governments of less-industrialised countries see it as a means to acquire
modern, up-to-date technologies, and governments of the more industrialised
nations see it as a vehicle for exports. Yet decades of technology-transfer
policies have had little visible impact on the daily experience of billions of women
and men who are excluded from access to, or control over, old and new technologies
alike. Worldwide, one billion people still have no access to safe water,
2.4 billion have no sanitation, and 840 million remain chronically undernourished.

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