Expert Group Meeting on Exponential Technological Change, Automation, and Their Policy Implications for Sustainable Development
6 Dec 2016 - 8 Dec 2016
Mexico City, Mexico
Organized by the Division for Sustainable Development in the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.
The first annual Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum)
noted the fast pace of technological change in recent years and that current technological revolution has a broad impact on the economy, society and environment.
Recognizing that some technologies are disruptive in nature, the Forum noted that technological change is not neutral and that in the short term it may create winners and losers. The Forum highlighted that such disruptive technologies are essential for achieving the SDGs, but that there is the risk that their benefits may be disproportionally distributed across countries and segments of the population, which could perpetuate and exacerbate inequalities.
An important consideration highlighted by the STI Forum is the impact of technological change on employment and on the capacity of developing countries to catch up with the countries at the frontier of technological development.
Exponential technology change has important cross-border implications for the development perspectives of countries. There is evidence that automation has started reversing offshore outsourcing and relocated economic activities back to high-income countries that are technology leaders. As technology change is fundamentally cumulative in nature, change in one country leads to lock-in of specific technology clusters in the countries where the technology change takes place as well as in other countries and can potentially constrain certain development options and paths.
The objective of the EGM was to take stock of what we know about the prospects and challenges of harnessing exponential technological change for sustainable development, with a focus on disruptive automation technologies.