World Economic and Social Survey 2018

Frontier Technologies for Sustainable Development

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This publication reviews the advances in frontier technologies — including automation, robotics, renewable energy technologies, electric vehicles, biotechnologies and artificial intelligence — and analyzes their economic, social and environmental impact. These technologies present immense potentials for the 2030 Agenda, fostering growth, prosperity and environmental sustainability. They also pose significant risks of unemployment, underemployment and rising income and wealth inequality and raise new ethical and moral concerns. The Survey identifies policy measures at national levels with the capacity to both maximize the potential of these technologies and mitigate their risks, thereby striking a balance among economic efficiency, equity and ethical considerations.



International cooperation for managing frontier technologies

Previous chapters of the Survey have demonstrated that frontier technologies possess a strong transformative potential and that institutions and policies play a crucial role in determining how this potential is realized in each country and community. Policies can–and will– determine the impact of those technologies on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While national policies remain critical, international cooperation will play an increasingly important role in shaping the impact of frontier technologies in an age of globalization and interconnectedness.


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