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Promises and Pitfalls of Technology
Politics and privacy, private-sector influence and big tech, state competition and conflict, author biography, how is technology changing the world, and how should the world change technology.
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Josephine Wolff; How Is Technology Changing the World, and How Should the World Change Technology?. Global Perspectives 1 February 2021; 2 (1): 27353. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gp.2021.27353
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Technologies are becoming increasingly complicated and increasingly interconnected. Cars, airplanes, medical devices, financial transactions, and electricity systems all rely on more computer software than they ever have before, making them seem both harder to understand and, in some cases, harder to control. Government and corporate surveillance of individuals and information processing relies largely on digital technologies and artificial intelligence, and therefore involves less human-to-human contact than ever before and more opportunities for biases to be embedded and codified in our technological systems in ways we may not even be able to identify or recognize. Bioengineering advances are opening up new terrain for challenging philosophical, political, and economic questions regarding human-natural relations. Additionally, the management of these large and small devices and systems is increasingly done through the cloud, so that control over them is both very remote and removed from direct human or social control. The study of how to make technologies like artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things “explainable” has become its own area of research because it is so difficult to understand how they work or what is at fault when something goes wrong (Gunning and Aha 2019) .
This growing complexity makes it more difficult than ever—and more imperative than ever—for scholars to probe how technological advancements are altering life around the world in both positive and negative ways and what social, political, and legal tools are needed to help shape the development and design of technology in beneficial directions. This can seem like an impossible task in light of the rapid pace of technological change and the sense that its continued advancement is inevitable, but many countries around the world are only just beginning to take significant steps toward regulating computer technologies and are still in the process of radically rethinking the rules governing global data flows and exchange of technology across borders.
These are exciting times not just for technological development but also for technology policy—our technologies may be more advanced and complicated than ever but so, too, are our understandings of how they can best be leveraged, protected, and even constrained. The structures of technological systems as determined largely by government and institutional policies and those structures have tremendous implications for social organization and agency, ranging from open source, open systems that are highly distributed and decentralized, to those that are tightly controlled and closed, structured according to stricter and more hierarchical models. And just as our understanding of the governance of technology is developing in new and interesting ways, so, too, is our understanding of the social, cultural, environmental, and political dimensions of emerging technologies. We are realizing both the challenges and the importance of mapping out the full range of ways that technology is changing our society, what we want those changes to look like, and what tools we have to try to influence and guide those shifts.
Technology can be a source of tremendous optimism. It can help overcome some of the greatest challenges our society faces, including climate change, famine, and disease. For those who believe in the power of innovation and the promise of creative destruction to advance economic development and lead to better quality of life, technology is a vital economic driver (Schumpeter 1942) . But it can also be a tool of tremendous fear and oppression, embedding biases in automated decision-making processes and information-processing algorithms, exacerbating economic and social inequalities within and between countries to a staggering degree, or creating new weapons and avenues for attack unlike any we have had to face in the past. Scholars have even contended that the emergence of the term technology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries marked a shift from viewing individual pieces of machinery as a means to achieving political and social progress to the more dangerous, or hazardous, view that larger-scale, more complex technological systems were a semiautonomous form of progress in and of themselves (Marx 2010) . More recently, technologists have sharply criticized what they view as a wave of new Luddites, people intent on slowing the development of technology and turning back the clock on innovation as a means of mitigating the societal impacts of technological change (Marlowe 1970) .
At the heart of fights over new technologies and their resulting global changes are often two conflicting visions of technology: a fundamentally optimistic one that believes humans use it as a tool to achieve greater goals, and a fundamentally pessimistic one that holds that technological systems have reached a point beyond our control. Technology philosophers have argued that neither of these views is wholly accurate and that a purely optimistic or pessimistic view of technology is insufficient to capture the nuances and complexity of our relationship to technology (Oberdiek and Tiles 1995) . Understanding technology and how we can make better decisions about designing, deploying, and refining it requires capturing that nuance and complexity through in-depth analysis of the impacts of different technological advancements and the ways they have played out in all their complicated and controversial messiness across the world.
These impacts are often unpredictable as technologies are adopted in new contexts and come to be used in ways that sometimes diverge significantly from the use cases envisioned by their designers. The internet, designed to help transmit information between computer networks, became a crucial vehicle for commerce, introducing unexpected avenues for crime and financial fraud. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, designed to connect friends and families through sharing photographs and life updates, became focal points of election controversies and political influence. Cryptocurrencies, originally intended as a means of decentralized digital cash, have become a significant environmental hazard as more and more computing resources are devoted to mining these forms of virtual money. One of the crucial challenges in this area is therefore recognizing, documenting, and even anticipating some of these unexpected consequences and providing mechanisms to technologists for how to think through the impacts of their work, as well as possible other paths to different outcomes (Verbeek 2006) . And just as technological innovations can cause unexpected harm, they can also bring about extraordinary benefits—new vaccines and medicines to address global pandemics and save thousands of lives, new sources of energy that can drastically reduce emissions and help combat climate change, new modes of education that can reach people who would otherwise have no access to schooling. Regulating technology therefore requires a careful balance of mitigating risks without overly restricting potentially beneficial innovations.
Nations around the world have taken very different approaches to governing emerging technologies and have adopted a range of different technologies themselves in pursuit of more modern governance structures and processes (Braman 2009) . In Europe, the precautionary principle has guided much more anticipatory regulation aimed at addressing the risks presented by technologies even before they are fully realized. For instance, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation focuses on the responsibilities of data controllers and processors to provide individuals with access to their data and information about how that data is being used not just as a means of addressing existing security and privacy threats, such as data breaches, but also to protect against future developments and uses of that data for artificial intelligence and automated decision-making purposes. In Germany, Technische Überwachungsvereine, or TÜVs, perform regular tests and inspections of technological systems to assess and minimize risks over time, as the tech landscape evolves. In the United States, by contrast, there is much greater reliance on litigation and liability regimes to address safety and security failings after-the-fact. These different approaches reflect not just the different legal and regulatory mechanisms and philosophies of different nations but also the different ways those nations prioritize rapid development of the technology industry versus safety, security, and individual control. Typically, governance innovations move much more slowly than technological innovations, and regulations can lag years, or even decades, behind the technologies they aim to govern.
In addition to this varied set of national regulatory approaches, a variety of international and nongovernmental organizations also contribute to the process of developing standards, rules, and norms for new technologies, including the International Organization for Standardization and the International Telecommunication Union. These multilateral and NGO actors play an especially important role in trying to define appropriate boundaries for the use of new technologies by governments as instruments of control for the state.
At the same time that policymakers are under scrutiny both for their decisions about how to regulate technology as well as their decisions about how and when to adopt technologies like facial recognition themselves, technology firms and designers have also come under increasing criticism. Growing recognition that the design of technologies can have far-reaching social and political implications means that there is more pressure on technologists to take into consideration the consequences of their decisions early on in the design process (Vincenti 1993; Winner 1980) . The question of how technologists should incorporate these social dimensions into their design and development processes is an old one, and debate on these issues dates back to the 1970s, but it remains an urgent and often overlooked part of the puzzle because so many of the supposedly systematic mechanisms for assessing the impacts of new technologies in both the private and public sectors are primarily bureaucratic, symbolic processes rather than carrying any real weight or influence.
Technologists are often ill-equipped or unwilling to respond to the sorts of social problems that their creations have—often unwittingly—exacerbated, and instead point to governments and lawmakers to address those problems (Zuckerberg 2019) . But governments often have few incentives to engage in this area. This is because setting clear standards and rules for an ever-evolving technological landscape can be extremely challenging, because enforcement of those rules can be a significant undertaking requiring considerable expertise, and because the tech sector is a major source of jobs and revenue for many countries that may fear losing those benefits if they constrain companies too much. This indicates not just a need for clearer incentives and better policies for both private- and public-sector entities but also a need for new mechanisms whereby the technology development and design process can be influenced and assessed by people with a wider range of experiences and expertise. If we want technologies to be designed with an eye to their impacts, who is responsible for predicting, measuring, and mitigating those impacts throughout the design process? Involving policymakers in that process in a more meaningful way will also require training them to have the analytic and technical capacity to more fully engage with technologists and understand more fully the implications of their decisions.
At the same time that tech companies seem unwilling or unable to rein in their creations, many also fear they wield too much power, in some cases all but replacing governments and international organizations in their ability to make decisions that affect millions of people worldwide and control access to information, platforms, and audiences (Kilovaty 2020) . Regulators around the world have begun considering whether some of these companies have become so powerful that they violate the tenets of antitrust laws, but it can be difficult for governments to identify exactly what those violations are, especially in the context of an industry where the largest players often provide their customers with free services. And the platforms and services developed by tech companies are often wielded most powerfully and dangerously not directly by their private-sector creators and operators but instead by states themselves for widespread misinformation campaigns that serve political purposes (Nye 2018) .
Since the largest private entities in the tech sector operate in many countries, they are often better poised to implement global changes to the technological ecosystem than individual states or regulatory bodies, creating new challenges to existing governance structures and hierarchies. Just as it can be challenging to provide oversight for government use of technologies, so, too, oversight of the biggest tech companies, which have more resources, reach, and power than many nations, can prove to be a daunting task. The rise of network forms of organization and the growing gig economy have added to these challenges, making it even harder for regulators to fully address the breadth of these companies’ operations (Powell 1990) . The private-public partnerships that have emerged around energy, transportation, medical, and cyber technologies further complicate this picture, blurring the line between the public and private sectors and raising critical questions about the role of each in providing critical infrastructure, health care, and security. How can and should private tech companies operating in these different sectors be governed, and what types of influence do they exert over regulators? How feasible are different policy proposals aimed at technological innovation, and what potential unintended consequences might they have?
Conflict between countries has also spilled over significantly into the private sector in recent years, most notably in the case of tensions between the United States and China over which technologies developed in each country will be permitted by the other and which will be purchased by other customers, outside those two countries. Countries competing to develop the best technology is not a new phenomenon, but the current conflicts have major international ramifications and will influence the infrastructure that is installed and used around the world for years to come. Untangling the different factors that feed into these tussles as well as whom they benefit and whom they leave at a disadvantage is crucial for understanding how governments can most effectively foster technological innovation and invention domestically as well as the global consequences of those efforts. As much of the world is forced to choose between buying technology from the United States or from China, how should we understand the long-term impacts of those choices and the options available to people in countries without robust domestic tech industries? Does the global spread of technologies help fuel further innovation in countries with smaller tech markets, or does it reinforce the dominance of the states that are already most prominent in this sector? How can research universities maintain global collaborations and research communities in light of these national competitions, and what role does government research and development spending play in fostering innovation within its own borders and worldwide? How should intellectual property protections evolve to meet the demands of the technology industry, and how can those protections be enforced globally?
These conflicts between countries sometimes appear to challenge the feasibility of truly global technologies and networks that operate across all countries through standardized protocols and design features. Organizations like the International Organization for Standardization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and many others have tried to harmonize these policies and protocols across different countries for years, but have met with limited success when it comes to resolving the issues of greatest tension and disagreement among nations. For technology to operate in a global environment, there is a need for a much greater degree of coordination among countries and the development of common standards and norms, but governments continue to struggle to agree not just on those norms themselves but even the appropriate venue and processes for developing them. Without greater global cooperation, is it possible to maintain a global network like the internet or to promote the spread of new technologies around the world to address challenges of sustainability? What might help incentivize that cooperation moving forward, and what could new structures and process for governance of global technologies look like? Why has the tech industry’s self-regulation culture persisted? Do the same traditional drivers for public policy, such as politics of harmonization and path dependency in policy-making, still sufficiently explain policy outcomes in this space? As new technologies and their applications spread across the globe in uneven ways, how and when do they create forces of change from unexpected places?
These are some of the questions that we hope to address in the Technology and Global Change section through articles that tackle new dimensions of the global landscape of designing, developing, deploying, and assessing new technologies to address major challenges the world faces. Understanding these processes requires synthesizing knowledge from a range of different fields, including sociology, political science, economics, and history, as well as technical fields such as engineering, climate science, and computer science. A crucial part of understanding how technology has created global change and, in turn, how global changes have influenced the development of new technologies is understanding the technologies themselves in all their richness and complexity—how they work, the limits of what they can do, what they were designed to do, how they are actually used. Just as technologies themselves are becoming more complicated, so are their embeddings and relationships to the larger social, political, and legal contexts in which they exist. Scholars across all disciplines are encouraged to join us in untangling those complexities.
Josephine Wolff is an associate professor of cybersecurity policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Her book You’ll See This Message When It Is Too Late: The Legal and Economic Aftermath of Cybersecurity Breaches was published by MIT Press in 2018.
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Technological Globalization – Examples, Pros and Cons
Technological globalization is one of 8 types of globalization that helps us describe what globalization looks and feels like in 21st Century information societies .
It refers to the spread of technologies across borders and around the world. This includes both:
- The spread of technological knowledge (how to create technology)
- The literal movement of technology around the world (trade in technological goods)
With rapid developments in technological innovations in the 21 st Century and increased ease and speed at which we can move technologies across the world economy, technological globalization is occurring at a faster rate than ever .
While technological globalization has been good for many people in developing economies, there are also concerns that a digital divide between the rich and poor can make economic mobility (people getting wealthier within one generation) more difficult.
Technological globalization can be defined as the increasing speed of technological diffusion across the global economy. It refers to the spread of technologies around the globe, and particularly from developed to developing nations.
The global flow of technologies has been extensively researched by Arjun Appadurai who considered technological globalization to be one of five ‘ spheres of globalization ’. He labelled technological globalization the ‘technosphere’ and explained that it’s both an effect and cause of globalization .
As an effect of globalization , we can see that technologies spread more easily thanks to political globalization (the increased interconnection of nations) and economic globalization (the rise of a global economy facilitated by liberalization of trade). For example, free trade agreements can make it easier to move technological innovations across borders; and manufacturing in the developing world can make it cheaper to produce those technologies.
But it’s also a cause of globalization because new technologies like the internet and cell phones make it easier to conduct cross-border trade and interactions. Similarly, technologies that have made air flight more efficient have helped increase the flow of people around the world.
Examples of Technological Globalization
1. Growth of Multinational Technology Corporations Liberalization of trade and economic globalization have facilitated the growth of multinational corporations like Microsoft, Apple and Sony. Traveling around the world, chances are the televisions in all the airports are from one of the four or five major television brands. Anywhere in the world, chances are the phones will be made by Samsung, Apple, or another of the major multinational mobile phone corporations.
2. Mobile Banking Mobile banking has allowed people to access money both at home and around the world at a faster pace than ever. In particular, smartphone stock trading apps allow for the ownership of capital to be shuffled around the world faster than ever, helping to speed up globalization and lower the cost of start-up capital to facilitate new business development.
3. Mechanization of Manufacturing While not the first thing we think about when considering examples of technical globalization, this is one factor that has an enormous impact on our lives. Using machines for manufacturing lowers labor costs which has two competing effects: downward pressure on labor costs (leading to cheaper goods) and loss of traditional manufacturing jobs.
4. Media Globalization One effect of the spread of technologies and technological knowledge (primarily from the developed to developing world) has been to also globalize the media that is presented on technologies like computers and cell phones. The United States has become a big exporter of media culture (through Hollywood films, for example). Some worry that this can dilute indigenous cultures and develop one world culture (called cultural homogenization ).
Related Theory: Technological Determinism
Advantages of Technological Globalization
1. Easier International Trade With digital technologies we can speed up customs at nation-state borders, move money more efficiently and even move goods faster as air flight innovation improves. A clear example is the rise of international currency conversion apps like TransferWise.
2. One World Economy Technologies that automate trade can help create a more cohesive globalized economy. This will speed up the development of market efficiencies and economies of scale (such as those discussed in my article on economic globalization ). One example of this is if one nation has a competitive advantage in producing a particular good, they can produce it en masse and make it cheaply available to the whole world.
Related Concept: McDonaldization
3. Economic Growth The World Bank  found that technological globalization has “contributed to rising domestic productivity levels in advanced and emerging economies.” Technologies can help us produce good more efficiently and with less man power, which in turn makes those goods cheaper and allows businesses to scale faster.
4. Reducing Poverty The World bank  also found that technological globalization has overall reduced poverty rates around the world. They state: “Rapid technological progress in developing countries has been central to the reduction of poverty in recent decades”. Despite this excellent outcome, there are also clear losers from globalization, which is discussed below.
5. Faster Technological Innovation The global spread of technology has also enabled scientists and engineers around the world to engage in global competition. Each nation observes other nations’ innovations and builds on them, enabling technology to be developed faster and faster.
6. Rise of Online Communities Those with access to the internet are able to develop contacts with others who share their own hobbies and interests around the world. This has allowed people to ‘find their tribe’ and helped people to develop their identities in unique new ways, rather than around traditional nationalistic or regional identity formations.
Disadvantages of Technological Globalization
1. Has not Closed the Digital Divide The digital divide is a phenomenon that occurs when wealthier people have better access to technology than poorer people. The inequality in the distribution of technology gives a comparative advantage to wealthier developed nations. While technological globalization has allowed technologies to spread around the world faster, the digital divide still exists between and within nations around the world.
2. Replacement of Workers by Machines New technologies have been implemented in factories to replace workers in menial tasks. While this has been good for making cheaper goods, many worry that it will destroy entire industries and leave people unemployed and disillusioned. For example, Andrew Yang warns of the impact of automated driverless trucks on the trucking industry:
3. Cultural Homogenization As people around the world get access to global media technologies, the dominant media producers (namely, the United States and in particular Hollywood) spread their cultures around the world. This has led to people blaming globalization for the “Disneyfication of culture” while indigenous and local cultures become diluted and people increasingly develop transnational identities .
4. Rise of Fake News As internet technologies have enabled anyone to develop their own podcast, YouTube channel or blog, control over the spread of information has been diluted. There are concerns that new technologies have allowed for conspiracy theorists and extremist organizations to spread their nefarious messages online.
Of the eight types of globalization , technological globalization is one that touches on all the others. Technology helps speed up economic and cultural globalization , for example. In this sense, the ‘types’ of globalization aren’t self-standing concepts, but each one impacts the other.
Technological globalization has had wide-reaching consequences for our world. The jury is still out on whether the spread of technology around the world (what we often call ‘technological diffusion’) has had positive or negative impacts. And the truth is it’s had good impacts in some senses and negatives in others.
REFERENCES IN APA FORMAT
Cristadoro, R. (2018). The Unintended Consequences of Globalization and Technological Progress . International Macroeconomics in the Wake of the Global Financial Crisis , 73-96.
Grossman, G. M., & Helpman, E. (2015). Globalization and growth . American Economic Review , 105 (5), 100-104.
Milner, H. V. (2019). Voting for populism in Europe: globalization, technological change, and the extreme right . In Conference on Frontiers in Comparative and Political Economy, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK .
Reddy, P. (2017). Globalization of technology: issues in technology transfer and technological capability building . Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems.
World Bank (2008). Global Economic Prospects 2008: Technology Diffusion in the Developing World. Retrieved from: https://elibrary.worldbank.org/doi/abs/10.1596/978-0-8213-7365-1
World Bank (2018). Globalization and Technological Transformation. Retrieved from: https://www.worldbank.org/en/events/2018/10/18/globalization-and-technological-transformation
Chris Drew (PhD)
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 50 Durable Goods Examples
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 100 Consumer Goods Examples
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 30 Globalization Pros and Cons
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 17 Adversity Examples (And How to Overcome Them)
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Globalization of Technology: International Perspectives (1988)
H.GUYFORD STEVER AND JANET H.MUROYAMA
T HE EFFECTS OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE on the global economic structure are creating immense transformations in the way companies and nations organize production, trade goods, invest capital, and develop new products and processes. Sophisticated information technologies permit instantaneous communication among the far-flung operations of global enterprises. New materials are revolutionizing sectors as diverse as construction and communications. Advanced manufacturing technologies have altered long-standing patterns of productivity and employment. Improved air and sea transportation has greatly accelerated the worldwide flow of people and goods.
All this has both created and mandated greater interdependence among firms and nations. The rapid rate of innovation and the dynamics of technology flows mean that comparative advantage is short-lived. To maximize returns, arrangements such as transnational mergers and shared production agreements are sought to bring together partners with complementary interests and strengths. This permits both developed and developing countries to harness technology more efficiently, with the expectation of creating higher standards of living for all involved.
Rapid technological innovation and the proliferation of transnational organizations are driving the formation of a global economy that sometimes conflicts with nationalistic concerns about maintaining comparative advantage and competitiveness. It is indeed a time of transition for firms and governments alike. This book provides a broad overview of these issues and seeks to shed light on such areas as the changing nature of international competition, influences of new technologies on international trade, and economic and social concerns arising from differences in national cultures and standards of living associated with adoption and use of new technologies.
The volume is a compilation of papers presented at the Sixth Convocation of the Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences held in Washington, D.C. in the spring of 1987. The convocation brought together about one hundred leaders in technology from more than twenty countries to discuss issues of “Technology and the Global Economy.” The program of the convocation was structured around four objectives:
identification and discussion of the driving technologies of the current era, for example, in materials, information, and manufacturing;
evaluation of how technological advances are transforming industrial sectors such as telecommunications and construction;
exploration of how in turn the global economy is affecting technology and production through such factors as marketing strategies, intellectual property rights, and financial markets; and
clarification of regional and national consequences of globalizing industries for several geographical areas including the Pacific Rim, Western Europe, and Latin America.
An overall assessment of the issues raised was provided in conclusion by a panel consisting of Morris Tanenbaum, Wolf Häfele, Sir Robin Nicholson, and Robert Malpas. On the one hand, their assessment made clear that though most technological advance occurs in industry, there are too few mechanisms for exchange of views on international technology and cooperation that involve both private and public sector representatives in a forum not constrained by the formal policies and stands of national governments. There is great need for improved and more open lines of international communication on topics where engineering and technology intertwine with trade and economic growth.
At the same time, the panelists’ evaluations made clear a hierarchy of four sets of relationships among technology, technologists, and the societies they attempt to serve. The first of these includes relationships at the human level, ranging from professional education to relations between management and labor to the public’s understanding of the impact of technology on our lives. The second includes relationships at the institutional level, that is, the impact of technology on the management of businesses and industries. The third relationship is at the national level, where public and private interactions determine the use of technology and possibly a country’s ability to grow economically. The fourth relationship occurs at the international level. Here information flows, trade frictions, and alliances characterize technological development, its diffusion, global competition, and economic advance.
At the human level a key area of change is the invisible contract between a manufacturing company and its customers and employees. In the factory, we are seeing a movement away from the expectation that workers should be organized to fit the technologies and a movement toward networking and
small teams. Wolf Häfele referred to this as the evolution of a higher level of integration between technology and human relations. This is evident, he said, in the emphasis on words such as “interface,” “reliability,” and “adaptation” in describing or explaining some of the new technologies. As a result of this phenomenon, organizations that pursue single objectives may be less suited for survival than those that consider a broader range of issues that optimize the human, organizational, and technological elements.
At the institutional level, private enterprises are the principal instruments in many countries for developing and using technology, although governments play an important enabling role. The task of private enterprises is to be knowledgeable about the current state of science and technology, to understand the needs of the marketplace, and then to create technologies, products, and services that best meet those market needs. Morris Tanenbaum pointed out that this endeavor embraces many disciplines (basic science, engineering, production, distribution, marketing, and finance) and individual motivations. Many participants and observers of the contemporary technological scene propose that we are going through a period of discontinuous change as the breadth of technological applications expands and the time scale of change becomes shorter. For example, markets are becoming more global as transportation and communication speed the flow of knowledge of new products, and greater investment is being made in research and development (R&D) as technological capability has expanded. This process has placed new demands on organizations as they strive to obtain quick and effective market information and access, recoup their R&D investment more quickly, and recognize the importance of sharing technological capabilities. This is particularly true with regard to the information technologies—the one technology most rapidly changing other technologies. It achieves its greatest power when it is most global; where it provides the means to obtain access to the information systems of other countries and establish arrangements that promote the transfer of technology.
Government plays a central role in technology issues at the national level. Technology has now become a part of almost every political discussion as politicians have realized the impact of technology on world events. Governments vary in the way they influence and exploit technological changes, for example, through regulation, procurement, protectionist policies, and support of R&D. Public attitudes among various countries also differ, and these differences can affect governmental technology policy. “Given the fact that there is no ‘correct’ way of dealing with technologies which is applicable to all countries,” Sir Robin Nicholson commented, “each country must find its optimum way depending on its history, institutions, and public attitudes.” This implies that countries will move forward at different speeds, creating imbalances among nations. In this respect, multinational corporations, responsibly managed and sensibly treated by the countries in which they invest,
and transnational joint ventures serve an important function by promoting global equilibrium.
From an international perspective, the main issue is to sustain and improve world growth and improve growth per capita. This breaks down into the problems of Western Europe, Japan, the United States, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and the problems of the more and less advanced developing countries. Robert Malpas noted that it becomes essential for all these players to harness technology for growth; however, this effort is frequently constrained by protectionism, concerns about intellectual property, the demands of international marketing and finance, and, of course, national security. The net result appears to be that emerging nations, with a few exceptions, have even more difficulty achieving the growth necessary to close the gap with leading nations. Among the trends at the international level that can help sustain and improve world growth: the rebirth of interest in manufacturing, the spread of expert systems which multiply skills and help in the industrialization process, the acceptance of multinational corporations, the privatization of various industries, and the increased interest of governments in technology.
As evidenced by the papers in this volume, these four relationships at the human, institutional, national, and international levels permeate discussions on the globalization of technology. In his keynote paper, Simon Ramo maintains that technological issues lie at the heart of most of the social, economic, and political issues of today, sometimes causing problems but more often offering possibilities for their solution. From this perspective, Ramo goes on to make several intriguing predictions about the role of technology in the future. Particularly powerful influences on the diffusion of new technological processes and products will be governments, corporations, national security concerns, and the rate of advances in scientific research. Technological discovery will become a global rather than an individual or national endeavor. As a result, new mechanisms will be developed to facilitate the flow of technology, despite protectionist-nationalist tendencies to stem the free exchange of information. One of these influences impeding the flow of technology is national security concerns. Ramo, however, is optimistic about the direction of the two superpowers, predicting that offensive forces will be reduced, thereby lessening interference with the flow of advanced technology and allowing the application of military technologies to peacetime applications in manufacturing, transportation, and services.
In scientific research, Ramo reiterates his belief that the expense of conducting such research, particularly in “big science” areas such as super colliders or in outer space, and the recognition that such knowledge must be shared to achieve maximum progress are driving scientists toward international cooperation. Since the role of government in setting a national direction for technology is so pervasive, its relationship to the private sector in the
productive use of technology will continue to be problematic. Yet, Ramo argues, it is only the government that can perform the regulatory functions necessary for the smooth operation of free enterprise activity that makes use of new technologies. It is also the government, he says, that will be the primary obstacle to diffusion of the benefits of technology to world society.
As experts on the costs and benefits of developing technology, engineers are in a key position to contribute to policy formation of these issues. For engineers to better prepare themselves for the future, Ramo suggests that engineering education place more emphasis on the links between engineering and its societal applications. The result, he says, will be engineers equipped to play a broader role in influencing government policies and practices regarding technological advance.
Umberto Colombo’s analysis of technological and global economic issues emphasizes the impact of the technological revolution on production methods, types of products, labor markets, and on the importance of manufacturing to the economy. He compares manufacturing to agriculture—although it will no longer dominate the economy or provide the majority of jobs, it will continue to perform an important function even in a service-oriented society. Certain key technologies are bringing about this transition, both creating new industries and rejuvenating mature ones, and in the process are changing patterns of development throughout the world. The rapid spread of innovation makes it imperative that firms quickly exploit any competitive advantage. Moreover, their increased ability to operate in the global marketplace rein-forces the importance of cooperative agreements to advance innovation. Another force driving the trend toward cooperation is the increasingly scientific nature of technology, which requires that firms take a cross-disciplinary approach to solving problems. Colombo also argues that the technological revolution brings about a “dematerialization” of society, one element of which is that fewer raw materials are now needed to achieve a particular level of economic output and income generation.
The globalization of technology is being spearheaded by North America, Western Europe, and Japan. Despite their influence in shaping a new pattern of global competition, each has unique problems. The United States, though a leader in developing emergent technologies, is facing the double threat of enormous budget and trade deficits as well as deindustrialization of traditional economic sectors. Japan, which has demonstrated enormous success in commercializing new technologies, has an economy excessively dependent on exports. Western Europe has the cultural tradition and core of excellent research groups to facilitate its leadership in the technology arena, yet it lacks the cohesion necessary to develop strategic initiatives in important sectors.
Colombo optimistically concludes that globalization will bring the emergence of many small and medium-size multinational firms that will rely on
a network of technology alliances. Governments will provide oversight and strategic direction. The impact on developing countries will be enormous. With the help of new technologies, Third World countries can transform their raw materials and energy into value-added commodities and thereby accelerate economic development without dysfunctional effects. It is the responsibility of developed countries, Colombo concludes, to see that this happens.
Though desirable, the alliances proposed by Colombo are not easily established. As Gerald Dinneen points out in his paper on trends in international technological cooperation, international arrangements, whether they be international marketing organizations, joint ventures, or creation of subsidiaries, are necessary if industries are to get a proper return on investment and remain competitive. However, the “not-invented-here” syndrome, differences in standards, lack of protocols for transmission of data, and especially protectionist sentiment prevent companies and countries from collaborating. Despite these barriers, Dinneen says, international labs and exchanges of scholars and students in schools of engineering have been effective mechanisms for fostering international cooperation.
Presenting the European perspective on technological cooperation, Harry Beckers comments on the impacts of the dissimilarities in the ways academicians and business people conduct research as well as differences in R&D support in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan. Western Europe, he says, faces the unique difficulties posed by its diversity and nationalistic tendencies. Nevertheless, there are a number of EEC programs that facilitate international cooperation among various countries, thereby helping to bring about “Europeanization” in the technology sector.
Papers on three of today’s most crucial technologies—software, materials science, and information technologies—illustrate how the nature of the technologies themselves has created a global environment for research and applications despite the barriers mentioned above. George Pake describes a number of key advances in software: architecture of hardware systems used for software development; advances in writing, editing, running, and debugging of software; development of different programming languages; and systematic forward planning and task analysis. The creativity so evident in software technology today is not in danger, Pake says, despite the trend toward greater standardization and the possibility that ossification of the development system could occur in the future.
Pierre Aigrain addresses several provocative questions about materials, particularly pertaining to the rate at which discoveries are made, the extent to which applications are found, and the impact of these discoveries on industry and society. Citing the influence of the market and the continued interaction between science and materials research, Aigrain predicts that the rapid trajectory of materials discovery will continue. However, processing
costs, rather than the costs of the materials themselves, prevent materials from widespread application. The development of superconductors illustrates this point, and he concludes with a description of the impact these new materials in particular will have on industry and society.
Lars Ramqvist provides insight on several of the cutting edge technologies that have had a major impact on information technologies. These include VLSI technology, computers, software and artificial intelligence, fiber optics, networks, and standards. In addition, he looks at three main applications of information technologies—normal voice telephony, mobile telephony, and data communications—assessing, first, the current state of the art and, second, projections for the future. Ramqvist concludes that because information technologies allow for the dissemination of information, and thus understanding, they will form the basis for a more equitable, humane society.
Hiroshi Inose examines the telecommunications sector from a different angle—the effect of globalization on the entire industry. Particular technological advances, for example, the convergence of service modes and the microelectronics revolution, provide economies of scale but also require rapid inputs for capital investment. Among the problems and challenges Inose addresses are the software crisis, or the high cost of developing more sophisticated and diversified software; structural changes in industry, particularly in job design and labor requirements; standardization and maintaining interoperability between systems and equipment; reliability and security of systems against both external and internal disturbances; and integrity of information and protection of privacy. Like Ramqvist, Inose views telecommunications technology as the means to promote mutual understanding and cultural enrichment worldwide.
Perspectives on the impact of technology on another industrial sector—construction—are presented by Alden Yates who describes the most significant trends in the areas of construction-related design, construction equipment and methods, automation and expert systems, and construction management. Computer-aided design has, among other things, improved communication between designer and supplier and speeded up the design development process. Increases in productivity are being achieved through off-site fabrication and assembly and robotics. Logistics practices, skill requirements, and labor-management relations are also changing as a result of these new technologies. Yates suggests that improved management methods and automation hold the greatest potential benefit for the construction sector, and that to remain competitive in the global marketplace, firms must look at their R&D commitments. In the long run, however, the effectiveness of management will determine success.
Pehr Gyllenhammar makes a complementary point about the importance of management practices in his paper on the manufacturing industry. To claims that the manufacturing sector is on the decline in an increasingly
services-based, information society, Gyllenhammar responds that the manufacturing industry is adapting to today’s environment. One of the most influential changes has been the new technologies employed in the automotive sector, including new engineering materials, computer-aided design, robots, and microcomputers. These new technologies mean that decision making can become decentralized and that small-scale manufacturing can be cost-effective. Another important factor changing the manufacturing industry has been new demands from employees and customers, what Gyllenhammar refers to as the invisible contract between them and the corporation. In fact, the new technologies have brought about important changes in the way work is organized. Less desirable tasks have been taken over by robots; light, flexible technologies allow workers to organize themselves so that they command the technology instead of vice versa; and new materials-handling mechanisms permit the layout of equipment to fit particular work organizations. The challenge for managers lies in organizing production so that they can develop their workers through both technical and leadership training. To accomplish this goal, it will be necessary for the manufacturing industry to take a longer term perspective and use “patient capital” rather than striving for a quick return on investment. Gyllenhammar concludes that a viable manufacturing industry is necessary but not sufficient to solve the problems of unemployment and slow growth.
The manufacturing industry is also the subject of the paper by Emilio Carrillo Gamboa; however, he discusses the issue of production sharing as both a result and a means of globalizing industry. By moving production facilities abroad to low-wage developing countries, firms manufacturing products that have entered the downside of the product cycle can maintain a competitive cost advantage. Mexico, in particular, has become an important production-sharing partner for the United States because of proximity, demographic factors, and the Mexican economic crisis which has resulted in lower wage levels that are competitive with labor costs in the developing countries of Asia and government programs that support production-sharing.
The maquiladoras, or production sharing sites, have been the subject of debate in Mexico for a number of reasons: the benefits of foreign-owned assembly services are not extended to the rest of the economy, the maquiladoras do not absorb traditional unemployment, and they are too vulnerable to swings in the U.S. economy. In addition, some of the plants have been criticized for their poor working conditions. Nevertheless, the author contends that they are an important source of income, employment, and foreign exchange, and proposes that the production sharing offers significant economic opportunities if the competitive advantages of Mexico as a production-sharing site are improved and assembly activities are more closely linked with the domestic economy. Carrillo Gamboa acknowledges the objections to offshore production sharing but suggests that its economic and political advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
Further discussion of specific regional issues concerning technology’s impact on development is provided in papers by Jan Kolm (Pacific Rim), Enrique Martin del Campo (Latin America), and Ralph Landau and Nathan Rosenberg (United States). In his paper on the consequences of globalizing industry in the Pacific Rim, Kolm uses a theoretical construct based on the technological complexity of goods and the product cycle to describe some general trends in the region’s economic development. For example, gross national product (GNP) has increased rapidly due to the globalization of industry, and export-driven economies have helped the Pacific Rim nations overcome the disadvantages of scale and the shortage of foreign exchange. Kolm asserts that progress in the region is likely to continue, considering that there are suitable gradations of development, ample raw materials in the region as a whole, and a populace that has demonstrated its ability to cope with technological change. The focus of the paper then narrows to an examination of the problems and challenges facing the major groupings of Pacific Rim countries: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); the newly industrializing countries, in particular, the Republic of Korea; Australia; and the United States and Japan. Despite their diversity and the impediments they have faced in their industrialization, Kolm contends that technology transfer has been less problematic in the Pacific Rim than in other countries of the world, a sign of hope that competition can coexist with cooperation.
Enrique Martin del Campo deals specifically with the influence of technology on development in the Latin American and Caribbean countries. Shifts in economic strength and investment patterns influence the developing countries and make it imperative for them to develop strategies for growth through improved technological and entrepreneurial activity. Martin del Campo suggests that the region’s technology strategy must combine development of both advanced and intermediate technologies, linkage of smaller and large enterprises, and diffusion of technological development through many sectors.
Because the economies of the region, like most developing countries, participate in the international sphere through foreign trade, competitiveness in foreign markets is crucial. The rate of innovation, the ability to apply advanced technology, the degree of capital investment, use of natural resources, and the existence of technological support services all affect the competitiveness of Latin America in foreign markets. Two major factors, however, hamper economic growth in Latin America. First, investment is curbed by an economically depressed environment, and second, global demand for the region’s traditional exports is weak. Any plan to remedy these problems would require a strong technological component, including development of local capabilities in technology, internal and external transfer of technology, strategic projects that integrate science and technology, and government policies that support scientific and technological endeavors.
Ralph Landau and Nathan Rosenberg review the impact of technological change on U.S. economic growth. They cite several key influences on such growth, including technological innovation, high capital investment rates, and increased training of the total work force. The authors conclude that U.S. economic policies are not conducive to innovation and capital formation, and they propose strategies to ensure continued economic growth.
One change that poses both opportunities and difficulties is the rapid diffusion of technology to other countries. As a result, the exploitation of new technologies is no longer an exclusive strength of the United States. The maintenance of a high-wage economy will depend on the ability of U.S. firms to compete in international markets, particularly in manufacturing because of that sector’s contribution to GNP, foreign trade, and national security; its purchases of services; and its productivity increases and consequent contribution to the overall economy.
Landau and Rosenberg also focus on the role of government in creating a favorable environment for business decision making. Policies that encourage personal savings from which investments could be made, reduce the budget and trade deficits, and support a long-term financial climate are essential. However, because U.S. business interests and government do not work as closely as they do in some other countries, Japan, for example, this goal may be difficult to achieve. If the United States is to remain competitive, increases in productivity must be sustained, and this will happen only if training, management, and investment in manufacturing and services are part of public and private strategies.
In the volume’s final paper, Hajime Karatsu reminds us of some fundamental points about the role of technology in improving the quality of life. Technology is instrumental to economic growth, and as a result, economic strength is no longer a function of a nation’s size and population, as it was before the industrial revolution. Although some will argue that technology is the cause of the problems resulting from industrialization, Karatsu describes how technology has been used to provide solutions to some crucial problems—the oil crisis and pollution—in his own country, Japan. Although not explored in his paper, one issue Karatsu’s point raises is the extent to which technological decisions operate in concert with other strategic policies. For example, Japan’s pollution problem, and that of many other industrialized countries, has been solved in part by the export of the pollution-causing industries to other nations.
Karatsu supports his views on the importance of technology to economic growth by commenting that Japan’s methods of applying technologies have allowed it to achieve a 1986 GNP of $2.3 trillion, or 11 percent of the world’s economic activity. One characteristic of Japanese methodology is that new, advanced technologies are applied in practical and simple ways that can be easily commercialized. He cites as an example the use of carbon fiber in
golf clubs and fishing rods. This practice contrasts with that of the United States, where advanced technologies are frequently applied to complex products in the defense industry. A second aspect of Japanese practices in commercializing new technologies is their attention to incremental changes and improvements in product and process. Karatsu concludes by stressing the importance of technological cooperation so that standards of living can be improved worldwide.
The papers in this volume reflect a diversity of national perspectives on the impact of cutting-edge technologies on the individual, industry, and society; appropriate means for harnessing technology to facilitate economic growth for all nations; and the roles that should be played by institutions and governments in the emerging global economy. Nevertheless, agreement on several key issues is apparent: First, technology will continue to fuel economic growth and rising standards of living around the world. Indeed, technology’s influence is pervasive, for it shapes trade patterns and policies, employment, and even relations among nations. A second area of consensus centers on the important role to be played by the engineering community in facilitating international technological advancement. As mentioned by Stephen Bechtel in his introduction of the keynote speaker at the convocation, “…we (engineers and technologists) can only benefit by being more attuned to the factors that influence each country’s technological interests and capacities.” Although this process is frequently constrained by national competitiveness concerns, Bechtel asserts that it is only through increased cooperation that nations remain competitive. “A nation’s strength as a participant in the world economy is derived in part from its ability to adjust to rapidly fluctuating economic conditions and technological change. Cooperation provides access to regional and national trends in technology, thereby benefiting individual nations as well as the international engineering endeavor.” Indeed, industrial competition can be a source of creative tension for the world economy when viewed within the larger global framework of cooperation directed at improving the quality of life for all.
The technological revolution has reached around the world, with important consequences for business, government, and the labor market. Computer-aided design, telecommunications, and other developments are allowing small players to compete with traditional giants in manufacturing and other fields. In this volume, 16 engineering and industrial experts representing eight countries discuss the growth of technological advances and their impact on specific industries and regions of the world. From various perspectives, these distinguished commentators describe the practical aspects of technology's reach into business and trade.
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Are technology and globalization destined to drive up inequality?
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Understanding inequality and what drives it, kemal derviş and kemal derviş vice president and director laurence chandy lc laurence chandy former brookings expert, director of data, research and policy - unicef.
October 5, 2016
This report is part of a series of essays by the Global Economy and Development program—a 10th anniversary edition. The series, available here , delves into the critical issues facing all those concerned about globalization. You can join the conversation on Twitter using #11GlobalDebates .
1.1 What’s the Issue?
Over the past several years, concerns that technology and globalization lead to ever greater inequality have reached fever pitch in the U.S. and beyond. To understand what’s behind this anxiety, three distinctions are useful.
First is to distinguish global inequality and its two components: inequality within countries and inequality between countries. Global inequality, as popularized by economist Branko Milanovic, looks at the distribution of income between all the world’s citizens irrespective of country borders. Inequality by this measure is exceptionally high. Over the past generation, between-country disparities fell, due to the fast growth of emerging economies, even while inequality within several countries has risen. The net effect has been a small reduction in recorded global inequality (Lakner & Milanovic, 2015). This pattern will continue if poor countries such as India continue to quickly converge on income levels prevailing in high-income countries and this convergence outweighs any widening of within-country distributions (Hellebrandt & Mauro, 2015). Yet that would not quiet grievances about inequality. On the contrary, the middle class in industrialized economies, one of the world’s most vocal and powerful constituencies, has seen global growth benefit high earners in their economies along with the expanding middle class in emerging economies, while their own incomes have stagnated. Their sense of being shortchanged is increasingly recognized as a source of political instability.
Since politics is organized principally around the nation state, it is the level and change in inequality within countries that is the most potent source of tension and debate.
This brings us to distinction two: inequality in developed versus developing economies. In the former, the trend is clear—nearly all developed economies have seen inequality rise over the past generation. In Anglophone countries, rising inequality has been especially pronounced at the top end of the distribution, with the top 1 percent of earners seeing their share of national income rise. In developing countries, on average, inequality rose in the 1990s but stabilized in the 2000s (Ravallion, 2014). In most developing economies where recent data exist, inequality is trending downward (World Bank, 2015). However, information about the top end of the distribution in developing economies is limited, given the absence of complete tax records.
In developing countries, on average, inequality rose in the 1990s but stabilized in the 2000s.
Distinction three is between inequality in market income and disposable income. Until now we have described the inequality of disposable income, net of the effects of government taxes and benefits, which serve to reduce the inequality of market outcomes. This redistributive effect tends to be greater in developed countries than in developing countries, where government is typically a smaller share of the economy. In most advanced economies, redistribution through taxes and benefits grew over the past generation, offsetting some but not all of the increase in market inequality. However, these effects have diminished on average since the late 1990s, due to policy choices such as the application of more stringent criteria to government benefits (OECD, 2011). Public policies can also shape the distribution of market income. For instance, weakened employment protection, such as rules regarding sick leave and severance pay, has contributed to widening inequality over this period.
1.2 What’s the Debate?
Debates over the causes of inequality are fraught, reflecting the multiple and complex channels through which technology and globalization are changing the global economy.
Arguably the most prominent effect of technology on inequality is through the increased premium it places on skills. Modern technology substitutes for many of the jobs and tasks traditionally performed by unskilled workers, while acting as a complement to skilled workers. In advanced countries, trade reinforces this effect by encouraging specialization in high-skill sectors in which those economies have a comparative advantage. The same logic should see income inequality narrow in developing economies that specialize in low-skill sectors. However, in practice, skilled workers in developing economies may take those jobs, so that distributions widen (Maskin, 2015).
By substituting for unskilled workers, technology has not only increased the premium on skills, but increased the role of capital in production. Historically the share of income that accrues to workers relative to capital owners was stable, but since the 1980s, it has declined across most countries and industries as technology has made capital goods ever cheaper (Karabarbounis & Neiman, 2013). This adds to inequality, as capital ownership is especially unequal and generates large investment income for many of the same individuals already earning high wages (Atkinson & Lakner, 2013).
Arguably the most prominent effect of technology on inequality is through the increased premium it places on skills.
Technology has often led to the creation of strongly monopolistic markets for new goods and services. This is especially apparent in the digital economy, where behemoths like Google and Apple dominate. Globalization has expanded the scale of these winner-takes-all markets, enabling vast salaries and profits to be shared among a narrow set of employees and shareholders.
At the same time, globalization and technology have served to lower market barriers and information costs. For instance, while digital platforms for taxis (Uber), retail (Amazon), and accommodation (AirBnB) are themselves quasi-monopolies, they have simultaneously lowered barriers to entry for self-employed drivers, sellers, and would-be hoteliers, creating highly contestable markets. This has redistributed rents and generated new income-earning opportunities for the unskilled.
Evidence is emerging of the hollowing out of labor markets in developing economies.
Finally, globalization has encouraged a race to the bottom on some regulations and redistributive policies, as the mobility of firms, investment, and skilled workers compels governments to match the conditions of their competitors so as to retain and attract business (Bertola & Lo Prete, 2008).
1.3 What to Watch Out For?
The effects of technology and globalization on inequality are neither inevitable nor entirely predictable. We identify three areas to watch closely:
Job automation. The past year has seen a rapid uptick in sales of robots, coinciding with breakthroughs in the capability of machines and artificial intelligence in increasingly complex, non-routine tasks such as driverless vehicles and semi-cognitive skills such as voice-recognition. This has led to growing anxiety over the prospect of widespread automation of jobs. Estimates on the share of jobs that are at risk of automation over the medium term vary from 9 to 47 percent for OECD economies (Frey & Osborne, 2013; Arntz et al, 2016). Equally uncertain are what, and how many, new jobs may emerge and the adjustment costs of moving lots of workers into new roles.
Prospects for developing economies. The replacement of workers by machines poses a threat to developing economies’ traditional comparative advantage in global markets—their surfeit of cheap labor. Evidence is emerging of the hollowing out of labor markets in developing economies, mirroring the pattern already observed in the west, and of premature deindustrialization as developing economies struggle to establish a manufacturing base, in stark contrast to the path taken by western economies and Asia’s tiger economies (World Bank, 2016; Rodrik, 2015). At the same time, the digital economy provides opportunities to link workers in poor economies with companies and customers in rich markets, thus offering a temporary reprieve from the risks associated with labor-saving technologies (Basu, 2016). It is unclear which of these two effects will win out in shaping developing economies’ fortunes in the near term. But the rate of their convergence with rich economy living standards is set to be a major determinant of global inequality trends.
Perceptions of inequality. Public anger over the inequitable effects of technology and globalization is cited as a cause of myriad social ills—from rising nationalism and identity politics, to disdain for institutions, and a fracturing of the rules-based international system. Whether that anger persists will depend less on any objective measure of inequality than on how inequality is perceived and managed (Nieheus, 2014). One important factor is the way global integration shifts the reference points people use to judge and compare their lives.
August 30, 2016
Laurence Chandy, Hiroshi Kato, Homi Kharas
July 20, 2015
Policy has a vital role to play in promoting greater equality, both through redistribution, where taxes and benefits moderate the unequal distribution of market income into a more equitable distribution of disposable income, and “pre-distribution” where market forces and rules are engineered to improve the distribution of market income itself.
Given the alarming trends in inequality, and the tendency for political stalemate over changes in tax and benefits, attention is increasingly focused on policies that support pre-distribution. Some of the most creative ideas seek to reshape the forces of technology and globalization themselves. For instance, policies can be put in place to incentivize research and development on innovations that generate more jobs. Alternatively, governments can deploy public funds to acquire stakes in technological innovations and their commercialization so that the profits they generate can be shared with citizens rather than benefit only a narrow group of shareholders. With regard to globalization, multilateral efforts can eliminate tax inversions, whereby one corporation acquires another to re-domicile to a lower-tax jurisdiction.
More generally, there can be little doubt that focusing almost exclusively on average incomes and their growth has been a disservice to policymaking and to the economics profession. A growth strategy that doesn’t work for all members of an economy is incomplete and unsustainable, no matter how much redistribution there may be. The definition of economic success must therefore include the extent to which growth is inclusive. Inclusiveness cannot be an afterthought.
Global Economy and Development
Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Jamal Saghir, Morgan Richmond
February 22, 2024
Jason Hsu, Akira Igata, Sarah Kreps, Joshua P. Meltzer, Mireya Solís, David Wessel, Myung-hee Yoo
The Brookings Institution, Washington DC
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Computer Information Systems Dissertations
Essays on Technology in Presence of Globalization
Joshua Madden , jmadden4 Follow
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Computer Information Systems
Technology has long been known to enable globalization in ways previously not thought possible, with instantaneous communication allowing members of organizations all across the globe to communicate and share information with little to no delay. However, as the effects of globalization have become more prominent, they have in turn helped to shape the very technologies that enable these processes. These three essays analyze three examples of how these two processes – globalization and technological development – impact one another. The first looks at a national policy level, attempting to understand how increased possibilities for inside leakers can force governments to consider asylum requests. The second analyzes the issue at the level of corporations, attempting to understand how and why business leaders choose to hire individuals from other countries. The third and final essay analyzes the issue at the most micro level, studying a potential application that could help analyze linguistic factors that have taken a more prominent role in a more globalized society.
Madden, Joshua, "Essays on Technology in Presence of Globalization." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.57709/15971175
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The role of technology in globalization
One of the most wonderful occurrences of the 21st century and which make distinct from previous centuries is globalization. Numerous governments, businesses and other entities from different nations are able to develop international interactions, impact and collaborations.
Different forces account for globalization. Examples include multinational organizations such as the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) that serve to increase co-operation among different countries. Social technology champions the seamless transfer of ideas and information within and beyond the target country.
What are the most prominent advantages of globalization?
- The boost in economic power
- Increased standards of living
- Provision of rewarding opportunities
- Increased productivity and general output.
Technology is the driving force of globalization. Technology provides some sort of template for globalization while also solving the challenges associated with it.
Let’s take a look at how technology resolved some barriers to globalization;
- Trade barriers; handled by e-commerce, electronic delivery of services, etc.
- Common standardization of products and services; this is provided by multinational organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) which employs technological strategies to regulate the world’s health sector.
- Delay in information exchange; handled by the internet and social media
The internet (or ICT in general) remains the greatest gift of technology to globalization.
Smartphones and social media are the absolute GOATs (Greatest of all time) of globalization. Their influence spans through social, political and economic globalization. Smartphone users now access many sophisticated technological tools from the comfort of wherever they are. It eases many life activities and offers various opportunities. Such tools include artificial intelligence, geolocation, video calls, information search, and millions of mobile applications that are available for numerous purposes.
Social media remains in a world of its own. It has been an absolute blessing though some people have different perspective. Social media comes with a wealth of opportunities of its own, emphasizing the economic advancement of globalization. This is needed to meet up with global population demands. From Facebook to Whatsapp and Instagram, then Twitter…these social media platforms offer unique and important services. They control adverts of all sort, the media, social and entertaining interactions and so on. It is also worthy to note that global statistics state that over 60% of the world, population use a smartphone while over 40% of the same population use social media actively.
The use of blockchain technology – a transparent and incorruptible digital ledger has one way or the other help and improve our businesses especially financial institutions. There are many used cases of blockchain particularly in payment system, KYC, Educational system, Land registry, health sector and many more.
Software developers utilize ICT technology to create a wide range of needed manipulations. E-commerce, for example, play a key role in trade globalization. It is not shocking that the founder of the front-runner e-commerce company (Amazon) is the richest person in the world.
Retail and wholesale trade constitute a diverse and buoyant economic sector. Technology has digitalized many businesses, providing better conditions of service. An example is the widespread acceptance of e-books. For a bookstore, this offers a more secure and better trade option. Conventional forms of trading would’ve required printing and shipping costs.
Freelancing, which connects global talents to opportunities, is a great technology-assisted globalization. The idea of ‘production at the point of consumption’ is made possible through technology. This has been exhibited in 3D printing (reducing work and supply chain), vertical farms and cultured foods.
We cannot really run out of technological applications driving globalization, they own this century.
By Franca Olisa – Coinratecap
Also Read: Regional peace, technology top German president’s visit to Kenya
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Globalization is a term used to describe the increasing connectedness and interdependence of world cultures and economies.
Anthropology, Sociology, Social Studies, Civics, Economics
Freight trains waiting to be loaded with cargo to transport around the United Kingdom. This cargo comes from around the world and contains all kinds of goods and products.
Photograph by Bloomberg
Globalization is a term used to describe how trade and technology have made the world into a more connected and interdependent place. Globalization also captures in its scope the economic and social changes that have come about as a result. It may be pictured as the threads of an immense spider web formed over millennia, with the number and reach of these threads increasing over time. People, money, material goods, ideas, and even disease and devastation have traveled these silken strands, and have done so in greater numbers and with greater speed than ever in the present age. When did globalization begin? The Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes across China, Central Asia, and the Mediterranean used between 50 B.C.E. and 250 C.E., is perhaps the most well-known early example of exchanging ideas, products, and customs. As with future globalizing booms, new technologies played a key role in the Silk Road trade. Advances in metallurgy led to the creation of coins; advances in transportation led to the building of roads connecting the major empires of the day; and increased agricultural production meant more food could be trafficked between locales. Along with Chinese silk, Roman glass, and Arabian spices, ideas such as Buddhist beliefs and the secrets of paper-making also spread via these tendrils of trade. Unquestionably, these types of exchanges were accelerated in the Age of Exploration, when European explorers seeking new sea routes to the spices and silks of Asia bumped into the Americas instead. Again, technology played an important role in the maritime trade routes that flourished between old and newly discovered continents. New ship designs and the creation of the magnetic compass were key to the explorers’ successes. Trade and idea exchange now extended to a previously unconnected part of the world, where ships carrying plants, animals, and Spanish silver between the Old World and the New also carried Christian missionaries. The web of globalization continued to spin out through the Age of Revolution, when ideas about liberty , equality , and fraternity spread like fire from America to France to Latin America and beyond. It rode the waves of industrialization , colonization , and war through the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, powered by the invention of factories, railways, steamboats, cars, and planes. With the Information Age, globalization went into overdrive. Advances in computer and communications technology launched a new global era and redefined what it meant to be “connected.” Modern communications satellites meant the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo could be watched in the United States for the first time. The World Wide Web and the Internet allowed someone in Germany to read about a breaking news story in Bolivia in real time. Someone wishing to travel from Boston, Massachusetts, to London, England, could do so in hours rather than the week or more it would have taken a hundred years ago. This digital revolution massively impacted economies across the world as well: they became more information-based and more interdependent. In the modern era, economic success or failure at one focal point of the global web can be felt in every major world economy. The benefits and disadvantages of globalization are the subject of ongoing debate. The downside to globalization can be seen in the increased risk for the transmission of diseases like ebola or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), or in the kind of environmental harm that scientist Paul R. Furumo has studied in microcosm in palm oil plantations in the tropics. Globalization has of course led to great good, too. Richer nations now can—and do—come to the aid of poorer nations in crisis. Increasing diversity in many countries has meant more opportunity to learn about and celebrate other cultures. The sense that there is a global village, a worldwide “us,” has emerged.
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Science and Technology Impact on Globalization Report (Assessment)
Globalization in the 21st century was shaped and guided according to the countries reputation as well as its civilization. Globalization has by now laid down the phase for this epoch through making the world interrelated further and the tools of empowerment available to all. “To start with, Globalization refers to the trend toward countries joining together economically, through education, society and politics, and viewing themselves not only through their national identity but also as part of the world as a whole”.
This revolution has been driven by the break through in science and technology whose impacts touch every feature of our today’s live. In order to withstand this epoch, we must cuddle science literate and grateful ethnicity.
The impact of science and technology on globalization in the 21 st century caused so many changes in the world. These changes played a great role in enhancing the economy of the world as well as empowering every sector that emerged in those times. To start with, improvement of agriculture sector was among the first changes that were conveyed by the 21 st century. As a result of global change, agricultural systems were enduring ecological and social changes.
Due to the global change, the modification of climate, land and water resources, and biodiversity shaped the base of agricultural production systems. Nowadays, this globalization is making it possible for the farmers to produce food sustainably and giving power to consumers in making choice concerning food that is inexpensive, healthy and secure.
The improvement in technology is another factor that was impacting the changes in the beginning 21st century. This technology was making it probable to telecommute, vocation from virtual bureaus and converse with businesses and individuals all over the world.
This technology was backed by the advanced computer science and information technology which helped in its growth. The technology’s enormous impact on globalization was making it possible for companies of all magnitudes to trade with clienteles over the globe. Nowadays, the technology is enabling commerce to start satellite offices in nearly every country no matter how distant it is as long as there is internet access.
Finally, information and communication is another factor that was impacting the changes in the beginning of 21 st century. This was giving the world-wide universal entrance throughout the innovative information and technologies (ICT) that were so far additional features of globalization. Its final symbol, instrument and for the time being its spearhead was certainly the world-wide-web. These technologies together with mobile phones are now playing a great role in the enhancement of technology in the 21 st century. Also, the technologies are also trying hard to make the whole world a global village.
Impact of Science and Technology on the 2010 economic recession? Explain
Recession also called crisis is a piece of usual series of business. Recession can also be connected with lessening prices well-known as depreciation caused by the lack of demand of products. “According to the National Bureau of economic research” (NBER) recession is defined as an important reject in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real gross domestic product (GDP), real income, employment, industrial production and whole-retail sales.”
There are a number of factors that contributed to the 2010 economic recession. These factors wobbled the economy of the world to great heights. For instance, the U.K was among the regions that were affected by the 2010 economy recession for its increasing of government borrowing loans. This region had the highest rate of loan borrowing compared to the other regions. This debt led to a recession for the government budget resulting to lesser tax revenues and a shooting government expenditure on unemployment paybacks.
Falling of share prices is another 2010 economic recession that was in many countries in the world. This was caused by some countries having some clashes and as a result causing the falling of share prices. Inflation is also another 2010 economic recession. This inflation was first experienced in the United States being a region that was mostly affected by this economic recession. This inflation was caused by the rise of their currency hence causing exports become more expensive while the imports declining causing the lowering of the economic growth.
Due to the continued growth of the inflations, the United States banking system was also affected. It is believed that small and mid-size banks crossways the United States were deteriorating at a rapidly accelerating rate. In this year, the whole U.S banking system was tottering on the brink of tragedy.
By the help of the top economists and global leaders this disaster was looked upon although it did not immediately catch up as it is said. Both the inflations and banking system were the cause of some factors like bad economic news, bad news on housing industry, bad news from Europe, and bad news in the financial markets which were all caused by the 2010 economic recession in some countries like the United States.
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Essay on Technology Impact On Globalization
Students are often asked to write an essay on Technology Impact On Globalization in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.
Let’s take a look…
100 Words Essay on Technology Impact On Globalization
Technology transforming distance.
Before the digital age, global trade and communication faced barriers of distance. Technologies like ships and airplanes allowed travel, but they were slow and expensive. Today, with the internet and communication platforms, people across the world can instantly connect and share ideas. This reduces barriers, allowing for more trade and cultural exchange.
Technology Uniting Economies
Globalization means connecting economies worldwide. Technology makes this possible through e-commerce platforms that allow businesses to reach customers anywhere. Additionally, technologies like blockchain and digital currencies make global financial transactions faster and more secure. This means businesses can expand globally with ease.
Technology Empowering People
Access to technology has empowered people worldwide. For example, smartphones and social media allow people to connect with each other and share their stories. This global connectivity empowers people to share their culture, learn about others, and work together on common issues, leading to a sense of global community.
250 Words Essay on Technology Impact On Globalization
Technology: a driving force of globalization.
In today’s interconnected world, technology plays a pivotal role in shaping globalization. The rapid advancement of communication and information technologies has broken down barriers, enabling people from different corners of the world to connect, share ideas, and collaborate seamlessly.
Communication Technologies: Bridging the Gap
The advent of the internet has revolutionized the way we communicate. Social media platforms, instant messaging apps, and video conferencing tools have made it easier than ever to stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues, regardless of their physical location. These technologies have fostered a sense of global community, bringing people together and promoting understanding across cultures.
Information Technology: Accessing the World’s Knowledge
The internet has also become a vast repository of information. With just a few clicks, we can access a wealth of knowledge, from current events to scientific research. This easy access to information has empowered individuals with the tools they need to make informed decisions, participate in global discussions, and contribute to the collective body of human knowledge.
E-commerce and Global Trade
Technology has transformed the way businesses operate. E-commerce platforms have enabled companies to reach customers worldwide, eliminating geographic barriers and opening up new markets. This has led to increased competition and lower prices for consumers, while also creating opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses to expand their reach beyond their local communities.
Technology’s Impact on Global Collaboration and Innovation
Technology has fostered collaboration and innovation on a global scale. Virtual teams can work together on projects from different parts of the world, sharing ideas and expertise in real-time. This has accelerated the pace of innovation and led to the development of new products, services, and solutions that address global challenges.
In conclusion, technology has had a profound impact on globalization, transforming the way we communicate, access information, conduct business, and collaborate. It has brought people closer together, breaking down barriers and fostering a sense of global community. As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see even greater interconnectedness and collaboration, leading to a more interconnected and prosperous world.
500 Words Essay on Technology Impact On Globalization
The positive impacts of technology on globalization.
Technology has brought numerous positive impacts on globalization. Perhaps the most significant impact is the rapid and efficient movement of information across borders. The internet has made it remarkably easy to share ideas, news, and information across the world in real-time. This has allowed individuals and businesses to connect with each other seamlessly, creating a more interconnected and globalized world.
Additionally, technology has been instrumental in driving economic globalization. The internet and e-commerce platforms have facilitated the global trade of goods and services, making it possible for businesses to reach customers worldwide. This has expanded market opportunities, increased competition, and boosted economic growth globally.
The Negative Impacts of Technology on Globalization
Despite its many benefits, technology has also had some negative impacts on globalization. One major concern is the widening digital divide, referring to the gap between those who have access to technology and those who do not. The digital divide can hinder individuals and communities from fully participating in the globalized economy and accessing information and opportunities.
Furthermore, technology has contributed to job displacement in some industries. As technology automates tasks, jobs that were once performed by humans are becoming redundant. This can lead to unemployment and economic hardship for individuals in affected industries.
The Future of Technology and Globalization
As technology continues to advance, the future of globalization is difficult to predict with certainty. However, some experts believe that technology will further enhance globalization by breaking down barriers to communication, trade, and cultural exchange. On the other hand, others argue that technology could lead to increased fragmentation and inequality, as different regions and communities experience the benefits of globalization differently.
The impact of technology on globalization is multifaceted, with both positive and negative implications. The internet and e-commerce have brought about unprecedented opportunities for global connectivity, economic integration, and cultural exchange. However, concerns about the digital divide, job displacement, and privacy remain. As technology continues to shape our world, it is essential to consider its potential impact on globalization and find ways to mitigate negative consequences while harnessing its potential for a more equitable and prosperous global community.
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Technology and Its Impact in Globalization, Essay Example
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Globalization has increased at a fast rate in the last few decades due to advancements in information technology. Internet has made it possible to quickly access information as well as improve communication. A research studies showed that internet helps businesses accelerate the diffusion of their products because it is possible to provide easy to access information to customers online and market products more cheaply (Prince & Simon, 2009).
Another way technology has helped globalization is through progress in supply chain networks. Internet and communications technology has enabled companies to have a global supply chain as well as production facilities in various parts of the world. Despite the distances involved, these production facilities and suppliers collaborate with each other in real time and are able to track each other’s progress. Technology has made it possible for companies to sell products directly to customers without any middle stakeholders such as distribution intermediaries as well as sell certain products and services in digital format with none or very negligible marginal cost. Apple can operate all of its iTunes global websites from a single IT center and still be able to meet the needs of different markets.
In short, advancements in technology have made factors of production more mobile, communication more effective and cheaper, and reaching and marketing to customers more economical and effective.
Prince, J.T. and D.H. Simon. “Has the Internet accelerated the diffusion of new products?” Research Policy October 2009: 1269-1277.
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Home / Essay Samples / Social Issues / Globalization / The Impact of Technology on Globalization – Essay
The Impact of Technology on Globalization - Essay
- Category: Information Science and Technology , Social Issues
- Topic: Effects of Technology , Globalization
Pages: 1 (568 words)
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Global increase in employment opportunities, increase in global trade and quality of goods and services, threat to personal freedom, reduced employment growth rate.
- Port O. A new breed of thinking computer? Scientists race to combine living neurons and silicon. Business Week 1999; Jun 21:86–7.
- The human face of the Internet. Asian Business, Jun 2000:36.
- Larnder J. World-class workaholics: are crazy hours and takeout dinners the elixir of America’s success? US News and World Report 1999;127(24):42–53.
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