With globalization, we must pay more attention to scientific cooperation, environmental protection, trade, intellectual property, and a host of other issues.
China is launching a multifaceted plan to reach the forefront of technology.
Contentious internal political debates have slowed India’s movement into the global economy, but its commitment to democratic processes will serve it well in the long term. By almost any reckoning, the Indian economy is booming. This year, Indian officials revised their estimated economic growth for 2006 from 8% to 9.3%. This growth has been sustained over the past several years, effectively doubling India’s income every eight to nine years.
China and India are not mysterious, but one cannot assess their economic prospects without taking into account history, religion, culture, and politics. Journalist Edward Luce provides an enlightening overview of the many forces at play in modern India, with some reflections on how India differs from China, in his terrific new book In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India. Luce takes the reader on a kaleidoscopic tour through the legacy of Gandhi and Nehru, the enduring presence of the caste system, the rise of Hindu nationalism, the remnants of the British-derived civil service system, and the uneven emergence of a modern educated class of tech-savvy workers. His thumbnail review of the recent past makes it clear why outsiders might have trouble keeping up with Indian developments:
Asia’s economic groundswell is no longer breaking news, but the critical details of this transformation and its staying power are just coming into focus. China and India are the two most populous countries, accounting for 20.4% and 17.0% of the world’s population. Although they are still developing countries with per capita incomes of just ,740 and 0 (2005), they already are the fourth and eleventh largest economies in the world at nominal exchange rates. However, in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), they already have been for some time the second and fourth largest economies. Moreover, they are growing more than three times faster than the world average. Even though the percentage of persons with higher education in their populations is still low by developed country standards, because of their enormous size, they have a critical mass of highly educated people and of scientists and engineers. In addition, they have a critical mass of expenditures on R&D. As a result they have a large innovation capacity that is being deployed not only for their own needs but also to perform R&D for multinational companies. They are becoming increasingly important players on the global stage.
A global economy built on policies that foster mutual gain would be both richer and fairer than one premised on a war for talent. Although the aggregate benefits of HSM outweigh the aggregate costs, these benefits and costs are unevenly distributed. Indeed, at the national level, HSM has typically been seen as a zero-sum game, a brain drain that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Attachment to the brain drain metaphor these days, however, obscures as much as it illuminates. New research suggests that knowledge acquired abroad by talented migrants and the benefits that derive from that knowledge are returning home more often than in the past, even when the “brains” themselves do not. What’s more, under some conditions, the prospect of migration may enhance, rather than reduce, human capital formation within source countries.
The less industrialized countries are eager to play an early role in developing this technology; the global community should help them. Developing countries usually find themselves on the sidelines watching the excitement of technological innovation. The wealthy industrialized nations typically dominate the development, production, and use of new technologies. But many developing countries are poised to rewrite the script in nanotechnology. They see the potential for nanotechnology to meet several needs of particular value to the developing world and seek a leading role for themselves in the development, use, and marketing of these technologies. As the next major technology wave, nanotechnology will be revolutionary in a social and economic as well as a scientific and technological sense.
Ireland achieved a stunning economic revival in the past two decades; its plan for the next stage of growth could be another winner. Ireland’s brilliant catch-up strategy of the 1990s offers important lessons for countries that want to build a modern technology-based economy. But Ireland is not growing complacent. It knows that a decade of steady and strong economic growth, high employment, and success in recruiting foreign investment hardly guarantees future results. Ireland is now supporting R&D activities designed to help it prosper not simply for years but for generations. This new effort might be instructive for the United States and other technology leaders.
The United States and Europe must act together— and now—to avoid deeper confrontation over biotechnology and to protect shared economic interests. The United States and Europe continue to turn up the heat in their long-simmering biotech stew. In May 2003, the Bush administration initiated a challenge within the World Trade Organization (WTO) to Europe’s five-year de facto moratorium on approving new genetically modified (GM) seeds for planting in Europe. Although Europe subsequently approved a small number of new GM imports, the United States maintains that Europe’s markets remain closed to U.S. farmers. In April 2004, the European Union (EU) implemented new regulations that require mandatory labeling of all GM food and food products sold in Europe, despite U.S. claims that labeling is costly, unworkable, and unscientific. Further conflict seems inevitable.
In the wake of China's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, the country's progress on important fronts seemed to be in jeopardy. Many U.S. observers worried that China's nascent economic reform, reliance on its scientific community, and movement toward
In the former Soviet Union, science and technology served as major forces moderating national policies. The advent of nuclear weapons forced the country to give up its earlier Leninist thesis that wars were inevitable events that produce socialist regimes. The development of personal computers and information technology made the tasks of Stalinist-style censors unachievable. Environmental protests over industrial pollution served as models for independent political action on other issues. New biomedical developments forced scientists and philosophers to pay more attention to ethics, a grossly neglected field in Soviet thought. And the damage caused by technocratic planning of industrial expansion led government leaders to pay more attention to social, economic, and cost-benefit modes of analysis. In all of these ways, the advancement of knowledge, particularly in science and technology, helped to mellow the nation's behavior.
Globalization traces its roots to at least the late 1980s. At that time, new countries were entering into manufacturing, which was in some sense the weakest link in the U.S. chain of science, development, manufacturing, and sale of goods and services. In the case of Japan, lower wages initially made it possible to exploit this relative U.S. weakness. But Japan rapidly developed a number of other advantages based on improved manufacturing methods. Falling costs of sea transport, coupled with a general lowering of tariff barriers, then made it possible for the Japanese to address a global market, including the U.S. market.
When the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, many people in the United States were talking about a "new rationale" for federal support of university research in the physical sciences and engineering. The essence of the new rationale was the importance of such research to continued productivity growth in the civilian economy. The discussion took place in the wake of widespread concern about U.S. industrial competitiveness, especially with respect to Japanese high-technology firms.
A little help from U.S. academics and business professionals could go a long way toward making the information sector an engine for economic development. Jacob Aryetey has two personal computers on his desk, only one of which is connected to the Web. In his case, the Web-connected one is the anomaly. Aryetey is alone among the four computer science faculty at the University of Ghana to have Web access in his office. A native of Ghana, he is chairman of a computer science department that graduates about three dozen students a year.
Objective advice and increased engagement from scientists and engineers can advance global peace and sustainable economic development. This is a time when the constructive power of science and technology (S&T) can propel humankind to new levels of global well-being, or when their destructive power could bring an era of darkness and suffering. Although decisions by governments and intergovernmental organizations are fundamentally political processes, in a technology-driven world, S&T advice is needed for those political decisions. The S&T advisor, the advisory committee of experts, a select panel, or whatever the unit is must provide the best possible scientific counsel to the political decisionmaker.
As a new form of international diplomacy develops to deal with a number of emerging issues in which science and technology play a central role, the United Nations (UN) risks being relegated to the sidelines. The influence and effectiveness of diplomats and international civil servants will increasingly depend on the extent to which they can mobilize scientific and technical expertise in their work. This need not require the UN to acquire extensive in-house scientific competence, but the organization--especially the office of the secretary general--must learn to tap advisory services to identify, mobilize, and use the best available expertise.
New mechanisms are urgently needed to stem the flow abroad of a new generation of increasingly destructive conventional weapons. In the wake of the Cold War, the proliferation of conventional weapons is emerging as a critical international issue. New economic pressures--the result of shrinking international arms sales combined with cutbacks in domestic defense procurement in many countries--are forcing arms producers at home and abroad to jostle for position in an overcrowded market. This fierce competition is matched by buyers' growing interest in the high-end weapons and whose effectiveness was demonstrated so dramatically in the Gulf War. Meanwhile, the demise of the Coordinating Committee on Multilateral Exports (CoCom) has left a major gap in the international coordination of national arms export policies.
Practical ways can be found to integrate environmental concerns into national security policy decisions. For many individuals concerned with the ecological health of the planet, the end of the Cold War presented an unexpected opportunity to harness U.S. foreign policy to a grand strategy of environmental rescue. The 1992 "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro underscored the urgency of the diverse environmental problems confronting humankind; the peace dividend provided the resources that would be necessary; and presidential candidate Bill Clinton expressed his commitment to taking on the challenge.