Technology in Developing Economies

The Earth seen from Apollo 17

Technological advancement is unambiguously correlated with globalization. The information age has increased the rate of globalization like never before, as the rapid expansion of the Internet creates an irreversibly networked world. This analysis examines the positive and negative consequences of technological change in developing countries, specifically investigating changes with regard to economy, culture, and education.

The adoption of technology by developing countries has had profound effects on their economies, such as reducing the national costs of production, establishing standards for quality, and allowing individuals to communication from a distance. Unfortunately, the current process remains one of adaptation, rather than innovation. In addition, the need for technologies appropriate to the capabilities of a developing country's poor has only recently been recognized. One major challenge to the diffusion of technology in low-income nations that persists is its uneven distribution and penetration within the country.

The rapid spread of technology fueled by the Internet has led to positive cultural changes in developing countries. Easier, faster communication has contributed to the rise of democracy, as well as the alleviation of poverty. Globalization can also increase cultural awareness and promote diversity. However, the diffusion of technology must be carefully controlled to prevent negative cultural consequences. Developing countries risk losing their cultural identities and assimilating themselves into an increasingly westernized world.

An RJ-45 ethernet cable

In order to participate in a high-tech marketplace, developing nations require individuals with technical expertise. Problems arise when nations attempt to make overly rapid advances in education, producing graduates without a satisfactory infrastructure to support the education system. Namely, families must be able to afford to send their children to school, educational institutions need resources such as current textbooks and electricity, and educated individuals require incentives to remain in their home nations.

Developed nations must moderate their influence and carefully orchestrate any interference in third-world development. Rapid changes in unstable environments and a lack of infrastructure will lead to destabilization and cause more problems than they solve.

by Joe Cackler, Emily Gu, and Mike Rodgers
for CS 201: Computers, Ethics, and Social Responsibility
at Stanford University
on March 17, 2008