Our world is shaped by new technologies, which are often seen as simple drivers of economic growth. Yet with the rapid development of such powerful technologies, concerns have also arisen about their ‘dark side’ across many domains, including environment, health and society.
New technologies are often a double-edged sword, solving certain issues but also bringing unexpected problems in their wake. For example, electric vehicles do not directly emit greenhouse gases, so are seen as an important technology in the climate action agenda. Yet the mass production of e-vehicles generates every year thousands of tons of battery waste, full of highly toxic chemicals. Moreover, at the end of their lives, e-vehicles are often exported to developing countries, which generally have limited e-waste recycling capabilities. This in turn leads to environmental and public health damage, and contradicts both the original ‘green’ intention of e-vehicles and the goal of inclusive development.
With the fast development of such new technologies, it becomes more and more important to understand the responsibility and uncertainty of new technologies and their associated social effects. This calls for a comprehensive framework to manage innovations in a systematic way. In this project, we aim to evaluate the ‘unintended’ negative consequences that new technologies bring to society, and discuss how to better manage technologies in support of inclusive societies. We therefore aim to answer the following questions:
i) How can new technologies be better managed in addressing climate challenges?
ii) How can we achieve the goal of inclusive development?
With the rapid development of ever more powerful technologies in the 4th Industrial Revolution, it is now crucial to grasp the responsibility and uncertainty of innovation. This project is therefore closely connected with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG#3: To reduce illness and deaths from hazardous chemicals and pollution, and to support a healthy workforce in developing countries, SDG#10: To reduce inequalities and ensure no one is left behind, and SDG#13: To build knowledge and capacity to combat climate change. Overall the project will help policymakers design and roll out more efficient policies to support responsible innovation and new technologies, particularly in relation to economic, environmental and social goals.