Developing countries in the race for technological advancement.

A pro-globalization argument often put forth is that globalization contributes and assists in the progress of developing countries. Previously I have posted a blog piece about how globalization and technological advances help make developed countries the winners. In this post I will present the other side of the coin, developing countries as the losers in the globalization of technology. Globalization made interconnectedness and the exchange of knowledge and information on a global level a possible reality. However, this does not mean  that all countries will equally benefit from technological advances. On the contrary, it seems that the countries that benefit most are those that are already at the core of technological and scientific advancement.  Whether a country benefits from technological advances relies on several factors including the nature of the technology, how it is used, and policies implemented.

Even though there have been many success cases, it is important to note that many parts of the world are not benefiting from technological advances.It’s true that developing countries do benefit to a certain extent, however, they would benefit more if there were policies in place that improve access to technology and promote learning. Even though there have been many success cases, it is important to note that many parts of the world are not benefiting from technological advances.

Yes, technology could be easily transferred and used but what is often overlooked is that technology is not simply a set of blueprints, or instructions to be followed. Two countries may use the same technology but might employ different techniques based on their different levels understanding and purpose of use.

It gets even more complicated, technology is not readily available or cost free. There are often many challenges and difficulties in obtaining the needed or wanted technology. The ability to operate it efficiently after gaining access to technology is another obstacle.  While on the overseas service learning trip to Ghana with Middlesex University, we had volunteered in the community library which had only a number of newly donated computers available to the entire Jukwa village. The clinic where we had also volunteered kept handwritten records of patients because they could not afford to fix the one broken computer they owned, though it would make keeping records more convenient. The transfer of foreign technology is not a solution to the technological progress of a developed country unless it is made use of and adapted to local conditions.

Furthermore, scientists and intellectuals that are born in developed countries and that could contribute much needed information often leave to work in developed counties, resulting in the generation of knowledge in developed countries rather than developing countries. There is a exception of the East Asian Tigers, who have managed to generate an impressing amount of scientific output compared to developing countries.

Developing countries are also usually the receiving end of military advancements such as drones and military robots. Experts have confirmed that some military robots are becoming more semi-autonomous, they are able to find power sources, target and attack on their own without human intervention. Fully autonomous robots don’t exist as of yet but are the process of being developed. Furthermore, the dynamics of warfare is changing; drones come in various sizes and can be armed with missiles. The killing of innocent civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan by drones is a serious ongoing issue in spite of Obama’s administration promising to limit drone usage. These drones are controlled from computers in faraway distances away from action; the lack of compassion from machines will increasingly continue to dehumanize innocent civilians. As mentioned in my previous blog, these weapons will be outside the realms of international humanitarian law, raising serious debates about who will take responsibility or be held accountable for any collateral damage or civilian deaths.Human Rights Watch has called for the prohibition of military robots and fully autonomous weapons.

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Last but not least, the National Security Agency (NSA) is responsible for surveillance and gathering data from millions of people around the world.This gives developed countries the upper hand and more power over developing countries as they are way more advanced technologically. The United Nations considers indiscriminate global surveillance harmful to human rights. Developing countries will continue to be the losers unless they catch up, plug in and get in tune with the technological advances of developed countries. 

Balqis Hindash Middlesex University Dubai campus

http://www.fotomarburg.de/fb02/ike/lehre/download/folder.2007-07-16.7492829451/Globalisation_of_technology_and_its_imlications_for_developing_countries.pdf

http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/01/06/why-tech-double-edged-sword-human-rights

http://www.hrw.org/topic/arms/killer-robots

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One thought on “Developing countries in the race for technological advancement.

  1. This is a brilliant post Balqis! You have highlighted some key points which include the several negative impacts of technology imposed by the first-world.
    Did not know about military robots-great addition to my knowledge.
    You have mentioned how provision of equipment is not a solution to conquer problematic issues. I strongly agree. While the clinic in Jukwa had modern baby weighing scales, the nurses were unable to operate sophisticated equipment. Therefore, developed countries should focus on ensuring maximum benefits are reaped when providing technology through adequate training and so forth.

    Ammna Nasser (Dubai campus)

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