The main aim of this chapter is to identify exactly what is meant when discussion focuses on the global development of IT, and move on from there to describe the geographical dispersion of IT capacities and draw out themes and issues related to technology transfer. A core observation is that there is no realistic notion of global development, but quite the reverse, given that IT development work has been closely confined to a very small group of countries. There is a somewhat wider spread of IT manufacturing, to take account of favourable resource and labour conditions. If there is a global scene to be described, it is a global market for IT products and applications, and even here it is not a free market, but one bound up with restrictions based, in the main, on political considerations. The role of the military is noted.
The recognition that IT has a very restricted developmental and production base, and a less than open market place, focuses attention on the vagaries of the transfer of technologies between different nations and regions, in particular transfer from rich to poor communities. Problems are noted in gaining acceptance for the idea that there should be a process of technology transfer to poor parts of the world, justified on altruistic or humanitarian grounds. Even where transfer takes place there are techniques of handling it which are creative and helpful for the receiving society, and alternative routes which risk the long-term ability of those communities to make their own way. The argument is made that technology transfer should be based firmly on principles of community growth, rather than on patronage and paternalism.
However, by way of a prologue the chapter takes a closer look at the concept of development. IT progress has been dramatically fast, as in consequence have been the changes to economic and social functioning. In one sense this is attractive and exciting, a real roller coaster, but we ignore at our peril the relationship between technological or scientific change and the much slower rate of change in our minds, cultures and bodies. In the last chapter we contrasted the pace of technology progress with its social integration. Here we are more concerned with the fundamental capacity of human beings and their cultures to keep in step.
KeywordsTechnology Transfer Cultural Change Global Development Humanitarian Ground Global Scene
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