Innovation and Inequality

Innovation and Inequality

Emerging Technologies in an Unequal World

Edited by Susan Cozzens and Dhanaraj Thakur

Inequality is one of the main features of globalization. Do emerging technologies, as they spread around the world, contribute to more inequality or less? This unique interdisciplinary text examines the relationships between emerging technologies and social, economic and other forms of inequality.

Chapter 9: Emerging technologies and low inequality: policy implications for Canada

Dhanaraj Thakur and J. Adam Holbrook

Subjects: development studies, development studies, innovation and technology, innovation policy, technology and ict, politics and public policy, public policy

Extract

As one of the countries in the study with low inequalities, high absorptive capacity, and a mature S & T (science and technology) infrastructure, we started the book by noting our expectation that Canada could be a creator, producer, and consumer of emerging technologies. Further, we would expect the distributional boundaries of such technologies to be broad given the regulatory and welfare-oriented policy environment. However, the Canadian story highlights the ways in which regulatory policies can still have unintended outcomes. In looking at the specific policies governing emerging technologies in Canada, we argue that policy-makers also need to be aware of the distributional consequences associated with these new technologies. This includes, for example, the consequences for vulnerable populations and minorities, the degree of substitution between old and new technologies, how to determine if the government should promote one technological project over a competing alternative, and deciding when government intervention is warranted in the market around a given technological project. Our arguments are based on an examination of four technology case studies (GM corn, recombinant insulin, mobile phones, and OSS) in Canada. In each case, there are certain regulatory institutions in place which we first discuss before looking at the distributional consequences associated with each technology. We conclude the chapter with specific recommendations for the Canadian case, as well as lessons that can be applied to other countries.

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