New frontier technologies — everything from renewable energy technologies to biodegradable plastics, artificial intelligence and electric vehicles — hold immense potential to improve people’s lives and significantly accelerate efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and address climate change. But without appropriate policies, they can also drive greater inequality and increase social dislocations, according to a new report launched by the United Nations today.
The World Economic and Social Survey 2018 produced by UN DESA found that renewable energy technologies and efficient energy storage systems are already enhancing environmental sustainability, allowing countries to “leapfrog” over existing technological solutions. New technologies have enhanced access to medicines and improved the wellbeing of the most vulnerable as mobile technologies and innovations in digital finance have made financial services accessible to millions in developing countries.
The Survey also found that while technological change has the potential to bring considerable benefits to people, the economy and the environment, when left unmanaged or mismanaged, new technologies will likely widen inequality within and between countries. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics automation, among other technologies, can enhance economic efficiency but at the same time create winners and losers.
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