From "destructive creation" to "creative destruction": Rethinking Science, Technology and innovation in a global context
There is general agreement amongst economists today that Science,
Technology and Innovation (STI) have dramatically contributed to
individual countries' economic growth and welfare. Another, 21st Century
way of looking at the old Solow residual discussion is to observe that
STI has been the core factor behind the intrinsic characteristic of
capitalism to accumulate indefinitely. Doing so STI has also created the
seeds of the current pattern of unsustainable global development. Once
the major driving forces of countries' international, technological
competitiveness are taken into account, "smart", innovation-led growth
and "sustainable", green growth appear in contradiction with each other.
The paper makes the case for "smart" no longer be leading in STI policy
but rather "sustainability". Four priority "directions" are suggested:
radical improvements in eco-productivity reducing the energy and
emissions intensity of production, distribution and consumption;
biomimicry as sustainable product innovation guiding principle; the use
of AI and big data as "sustainable purpose technologies" assisting and
complementing growth in eco-productivity and green product development
and design; and finally regulatory and taxing policies addressing
over-consumption, including advertising. In so far as sustainability and
inclusiveness are also in contradiction with each other, there is also
need for specific proactive, integrated "eco-social" STI policies.
Global sustainable development will only be successful if it supported
by all classes in society. While for high income classes priority can be
given to increased taxation, for low income classes there is a need for
a more comprehensive green new deal that should include house
retrofitting and social energy tariffs making the energy transition
cheap. Finally the research community itself should put full priority to
exploit fully the digital substitution advantages of research
networking, rather than air travel.
Keywords: Science, Technology and Innovation; smart growth; sustainable development; inclusiveness.
JEL Classification: F6, M48, O30, 033, O38, P48