Distinguished Lecture Series
October 2003 (28 pages)
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Acknowledging the many benefits of technological progress, Paul Streeten dismisses the “false prophets of doom”. Zero growth is not a solution because it would necessitate zero consumption and the end of the human race, but an alternative is changing the kinds of goods we produce and consume. Technology can be environmentally benign, especially knowledge-based ones instead of energy-based ones. The law of unintended consequences, though, is very relevant in technological innovation. Without being a Luddite, there are many problems to be concerned over, including the need for a cultural revolution to accompany the technological one, the increased ability to infringe on privacy, and the possibility for high-energy chain reactions with huge destructive power.
Dr. Paul Streeten is founder and chairman of the board of World Development, consulting with the United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. He has done considerable work at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex, as well as on all of the UN Human Development Reports.