The last decades of the twentieth century have been characterized not only by a rapid pace of technological innovation, but also by the equally rapid integration of new technologies into society. The computer entered people's lives as a personal tool and transformed commerce and industry, from supermarkets to Wall Street. Other technologies propelled the telecommunications industries, providing the willing consumer with cable TV, mobile phones, and Internet.
These innovations are visible in any city of the industrialized world, and to a large extent in the newly industrialized states as well. But their deeper portent for the future is much less obvious, and their ultimate impact on the two-thirds of the world's population living in developing countries is the most difficult to assess. Yet for those responsible for the well-being of those countries - government leaders, businessmen and women, scientists and engineers - and for the development agencies, including the World Bank, that assist them, this question cannot be addressed too soon. If in fact the wave of technology innovation amounts to a second industrial revolution, as some predict, the developing countries must be prepared to join it or risk being left behind.
It is for this reason that the World Bank and the National Research Council proposed to combine their efforts to assess the impact of technological innovation on the developing countries. The collaboration that culminated in the Symposium on Marshaling Technology for Development was motivated by the sense that there are important challenges and opportunities for developing countries in recent technological advances, and that both development organizations and scientific institutions have a special responsibility to work together to assist these countries in adapting to and profiting from these advances. The focus of this symposium was strictly on some of the new advances and the emerging technologies. Proven and well-understood technologies such as drainage systems, water recycling, and efficient stoves, whose value is undeniable, were not discussed; the same was true of nuclear power, which may be an important option for some countries but presently is not characterized as an innovative technology. Readers should be aware that this strict focus on the newer, advanced, and perhaps untried technologies is not meant to disparage older technologies by omission. On the other hand, whenever the observation is made that needed technologies are not available, it is based on an assessment of all the technologies, newer and older, available to the user.
The World Bank and the National Research Council have unqualified expertise on complementary aspects of the problem of applying technology to development. The Bank, as the world's premier development organization, has acted as lender to governments since the Bretton Woods agreement of 1945. The National Research Council (NRC), the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, is a nongovernmental scientific and technological organization whose primary function is to advise the U.S. government on issues related to science and technology.
Surprisingly, over the years the two organizations have interacted relatively little. In the early 1980s, they collaborated on a project to reform the Chinese universities in the fields of economics and engineering. A decade later, they joined forces in a project to assist the government of Indonesia to develop its capability to utilize technology in industry. In between, there has been only a handful of collaborative projects, most of them NRC studies that received partial funding from the Bank.
Separately, however, the two institutions have contributed much to the theory and practice of science and technology for development. For example, the World Bank has supported technology development through its lending operations, policy advice, and research, as well as through specific initiatives such as its support of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and its international network of research centers. The Bank's annual World Development Reports and monographs are well known for their reliable diagnostics of development problems and their influence on government policies. The National Research Council has produced many studies relevant to international development, including, within the last two years, Realizing the Information Future, In Situ Bioremediation: When Does it Work? Vetiver Grass: A Thin Green Line against Erosion, Foundations of World Class Manufacturing, and Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment in the Humid Tropics. Other NRC activities have directly supported research projects in developing countries and have convened technical workshops for U.S. and developing country scientists and engineers.
OBJECTIVES AND ORGANIZATION OF THE SYMPOSIUM
This collaboration was directed by a steering group, led by Jean-Francois Rischard, vice president for finance and private sector development of the World Bank, and Gerald P. Dinneen, foreign secretary of the National Academy of Engineering. The Symposium on Marshaling Technology for Development, convened November 28-30, 1994, at the National Academy of Sciences's Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, California, was designed to identify areas for action by the Bank and the National Research Council and to cement working relations among the technical staffs of the two organizations. It also served to initiate the formation of a network of scientific organizations on which the Bank may call for technical advice.
The symposium was formally opened by Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, and Mr. Rischard, who introduced their organizations and briefly presented their personal views of science, technology, and international development. Keynote presentations were then made by George Bugliarello, chancellor of Polytechnic University, on the global generation, transmission, and diffusion of knowledge, and Harvey Brooks of Harvard University on technology transfer. These presentations were followed by three discussions of key generic technologies: biotechnology, led by Rita Colwell (University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute); materials, led by Praveen Chaudhari (IBM Corp.); and information technology, led by John S. Mayo (AT&T Bell Laboratories). A panel discussion chaired by Gerald Dinneen allowed these speakers to consider the broader, interdisciplinary questions proposed by the other participants.
The remainder of the symposium was devoted to sectoral sessions, each introduced by a primary speaker representing the National Research Council and followed by discussants from the World Bank and a developing country. The sectoral topics, selected by the World Bank, were areas of high technological content. The symposium did not pretend to cover topics not included in the sectoral sessions, nor to explore exhaustively the full range of views.
The primary speakers were Richard R. Harwood (Michigan State University), agriculture; Sidney F. Heath III (AT&T Corp.), manufacturing; Richard E. Balzhiser (Electric Power Research Institute), energy; Alan M. Lesgold (University of Pittsburgh), education and training; Jordan J. Baruch (Jordan J. Baruch Associates), services; Kenneth I. Shine, M.D. (Institute of Medicine), health; and Robert M. White (National Academy of Engineering), environment.
Discussants from the World Bank were Carlos Braga, Alexander McCalla, Mohan Munasinghe, Julian Schweitzer, Richard Stern, Peter Urban, and Jacques Van Der Gaag. Representing other institutions were Reynoldo dela Cruz, National Institute of Biotechnology, University of the Philippines; Agustin del Rio, Vitro Corporativo, Mexico; Demissie Habte, International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh; Lee Hoevel, AT&T Global Information Solutions; Vimla L. Patel, Centre for Medical Education, McGill University; Evald Emilevich Shpilrain, Institute for High Temperatures, Russian Academy of Sciences; N. Vaghul, Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India Limited; and James B. Wyngaarden, National Academy of Sciences.
Each sectoral session of the plenary was followed by a break-out session that included the primary speakers and discussants and other specialists from the World Bank and NRC. These sessions identified the important themes and formulated recommendations. Rapporteurs for the break-out sessions were Dennis Anderson, James Bond, Melvin Goldman, Kristin Hallberg, Lauritz Holm-Nielsen, Dean Jamison, and Christian Pieri from the World Bank; and Caroline Clarke, Donna Gerardi, Christopher Howson, Dev Mani, Susan Offutt, Procter Reid, and Paul Uhlir from the National Research Council.
This report on the findings of the symposium was drafted by Michael Greene of the National Research Council's Office of International Affairs and Kristin Hallberg of the Private Sector Development Department of the World Bank. It summarizes the ideas presented by the keynote speakers, the primary speakers, and the discussants, and incorporates the additions and recommendations formulated in the break-out sessions. The keynote and primary sectoral presentations appear in the third part of this report, Invited Papers.
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