Future Challenges: Technology and Development

VIDEO: Pardee House Seminar

November 3, 2008

Technology has been proclaimed as the “major driver of development.” Yet, to effectively and practically realize the vast potential of technologic advances certain obstacles must be addressed. On November 3rd, 2008, three leading experts from three different fields gathered at the Pardee House to discuss the variety of interdisciplinary challenges facing the long-range future of technologic advancement and implementation in developing regions, with a focus on poverty.

The Pardee House Seminar, titled Future Challenges: Technology and Development, featured Ahmed Hashmi (Vice President, Group Research and Technology, BP, UK), Prof. Dilip Mookherjee (Department of Economics, Boston University), and Dr. Ashley Stevens (Executive Director, Technology Transfer, Boston University). Adil Najam, Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future moderated the discussion.

Pardee House Seminar, TechnologyThe translation of healthcare research discoveries to clinical medicinal applications in third-world areas was the focus of Dr. Stevens’ opening remarks. He argued that the role academic research plays in alleviating poverty has been moving more and more to the forefront in combating healthcare challenges in developing countries.

Mr. Ahmed Hashmi from BP confronted the issue of energy supply and demand as a challenge pertaining to technology and development. he drew on three key questions: (1) Are there sufficient resources to meet the world’s needs? (2) Can government and consumers feel secure? (3) Can resources be developed in a manner that is environmentally sustainable? He argued that it is more likely that there will be a “demand peak” before there is an “supply peak.” At current consumption rates, he argued, there is at least 40 years worth of conventional oil and 60 years of gas still available to be recovered with existing technology.

Prof. Dilip Mookherjee discussed some major economic issues that are of particular importance to technology in developing areas. He touched on the political tensions that arise when inequalities within countries – often driven by technological change and compounded by policy ineffectiveness – give rise to problems of relocation and adjustment.

A more detailed report of the event is available here.