The Sisyphus Challenge of the 21st Century
Chapter 4: The Knowledge Divide and Disparities in Developing Country Capacities
The impact of the knowledge explosion has been felt throughout the planet, but in a most uneven manner. The capacity to generate and utilize scientiﬁc and technological knowledge has become highly concentrated in a few developed countries, while the majority of developing countries still rely on traditional knowledge and techniques, complemented by a rather thin layer of modern knowledge, technologies, products and services, passively received from the technologically advanced countries. This has created a ‘knowledge divide’ between those parts of the world where science, technology and production are tightly intertwined, and those in which the limited scientiﬁc, technological and modern production activities remain apart from each other and where traditional knowledge, techniques and products still play a major role. The knowledge divide has been relentlessly deepening and enlarging, and has led to a sort of ‘knowledge apartheid’ that radically separates those societies that have an endogenous science and technology base from those that do not. The explosive growth of information technologies and of the infrastructure to support them has also become a source of inequality between developed and developing countries. The terms ‘information poverty’ and ‘digital divide’ have been coined to describe the plight of poor countries with very limited access to the world sources of information, a condition that drastically reduces possibilities, options and choices for development. Yet, there is also great variation in the level of science and technology capabilities of developing countries. A few have managed to build endogenous science and technology capacities during the...
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