The future of science and technology and pro-poor applications

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PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to highlight the overall lack of focus of existing foresight analysis concerning the future of science and technology on the issue of poverty. The paper looks to re-orient the technology foresight community to adopting an explicit pro-poor perspective when considering future developments in science and technology (S&T). Design/methodology/approachThe paper presents a general overview of existing technology foresight studies from organizations located in North America, Europe, and Asia. By describing the key points made in a selection of foresight studies, the paper emphasizes the conceptual links between forward-looking analysis related to S&T and poverty-related issues. FindingsThe paper reaches two main conclusions about the role of S&T foresight and development. The first is that the foresight research community needs to interact more closely with the development community in order to enhance the value of the findings in each field to the other. Second, the pressing matter of poverty alleviation requires that the foresight community should come together and create a sense of urgency in issues that have long-term implications but need immediate action and attention. Research limitations/implicationsThis paper is limited to an approach that provides an overview of existing work in technology foresight. While no such review could be comprehensive, this paper provides examples of technology foresight analysis from a range of geographies, sectors, and perspectives to help mitigate this gap. Practical implicationsThe argument suggests that technology foresight practitioners should make issues of poverty an explicit topic or category of analysis in future technology foresight activities. Including poverty issues in future scenario activities would go a long way to closing this gap. Originality/valueThis paper synthesizes ideas from a variety of forward-looking studies addressing the future of science and technology and identifies the need to include poverty as a dimension for analysis in future studies. In addition, the paper provides an introduction to technology foresight work being conducted in Asia by the APEC Center for Technology Foresight.

Keywords: Forward planning; Innovation; Sciences

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 17, 2009

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