Global Technological Change: From Hard Technology To Soft Technology
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By using our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our updated Cookie Notice. This article is published in collaboration with Project Syndicate. Until the Industrial Revolution, neither formal education nor advances in technology made much of a difference for the vast majority of people.
But as technological progress accelerated, education failed to keep pace, leaving vast numbers of people struggling to adapt to a rapidly changing world and contributing to widespread suffering. It took a century for public policy to respond with an effort to provide universal access to schooling.
In recent decades, remarkable strides have been made toward realizing that ambition worldwide. But in an era when technological innovation is once again outpacing education, the effort to provide everybody with an opportunity to learn must not only be redoubled; it must also be retooled for an increasingly unstable and volatile world. Access to education has been significantly broadened. The world is no longer rigidly divided between rich, well-educated countries and poor, badly educated ones.
The quality of schooling remains a powerful predictor of national income over the long term, and many low-income countries have begun leveraging education in the service of economic development. Much work remains to be done — even in high-income countries. Many oil-producing countries, in particular, have succeeded in converting their natural wealth into physical capital and consumption; but they have failed to build the human capital that can sustain their economies in the future.
A comparative study of appropriateness and mechanisms of hard and soft technologies transfer
If the high-income non-OECD countries equipped their students at least with very basic skills, they would, as a group, benefit from added economic value equivalent to almost five times their current GDP. Education has a much wider impact than simply improving earnings or employment opportunities, which is why it is a component of the human development index.
In all countries with comparable data , adults with lower literacy skills are far more likely to report poor health, have less trust in their fellow citizens, and perceive themselves as objects — rather than actors — in the political process. For countries that fail to equip their residents with the proper skills, technological progress is unlikely to translate into economic growth, and large swaths of the population risk languishing on the margins of society. And yet, it is important to note that formal education alone is not enough to ensure greater opportunity and prosperity.
In many economies, too many unemployed graduates coexist with a large number of employers who cannot find workers with the skills they need. If individuals and countries are to continue to reap the benefits of education, policymakers must focus on the skills required to prosper in a rapidly changing world. In the past, education was about imparting knowledge. Today, it is about providing students with the tools to navigate an increasingly uncertain, volatile world. Unfortunately, the skills that are easiest to teach and test are also the easiest to automate or outsource.
State-of-the-art knowledge remains important.
But the global economy no longer rewards workers for what they know Google knows everything ; it rewards them for what they can do with what they know. Education needs to focus on improving how students think, work, and embrace technology, and on providing the social and emotional skills needed to collaborate with others. In the past, educators imparted knowledge by breaking problems into manageable pieces and then teaching techniques to solve them. Today, value is often created by synthesizing disparate bits of information. And for that, workers need more than technical knowledge; they must be imbued with curiosity, open-mindedness, and the ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.
In the traditional education system, students typically learned on their own and were judged individually. He therefore predicted that, as a consequence, the labour force would turn to industry from agriculture and then to commerce. Petty also stated that along with economic development, the centre of industry would gradually shift from tangible production to intangible service production. John Maurice Clark discovered the same economic rule after conducting research on the classification of primary, secondary and tertiary sectors in with the economic development, the centre of employment structure would shift from primary industries to secondary industries and shift again to tertiary industries.
This theory is now called the Petty-Clark Economic Law. When industrialization rises to a certain level, the development of the service industry that caters to the needs of production will accelerate. Both the proportion of the GDP accounted for by the service sector and the proportion of employed persons accounted for by the service sector exceed those of secondary industry and agriculture. This becomes an important index of the progress of industrialization in a country. The other symbol is the rate at which the input proportion of raw materials and energy to all industries decreases while the informational and other non-material input increases.
The Centre discovered that the first softening rate the rate of information input and other immaterial input, divided by input of the endogenous sector of 17 industries out of the 24 industries chosen for the study were increasing during the s to the s.
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Thus, the softening rates of fine mechanics, food products and commerce reached The second softening rate the rate of information and other immaterial inputs plus personnel expenses and the soft component of capital expenditure, divided by the sum of production , except high energy-consuming products like petroleum, coal, water, electricity and gas went up in all industries. The second softening rates for finance, insurance, commerce, education, research and the medical industry amounted to So what is it that makes the economy soften? Here are some answers.
Increased productivity and the reduction of costs, causes the centre of value-added to shift from material production to non-material production and especially to the service industries. People probably spend more money on other things than on food because material demands are greatly satisfied.
This indicates that the focus of consumers in the market has shifted from pursuing material goods necessary for sustaining life towards pursuing a high quality of material life and spiritual enjoyment; this in turn creates a demand for a more extensive range and high quality services. The lifestyle and thinking modes of today are entirely different from those of the past. Even in China it is common to go to a concert or watch a game at the cost of several hundred RMB; it is fashionable for a whole family to go on a trip exceeding the cost of their monthly income; and young people sometimes even spend money on experiences and entertainments designed to produce the thrill and excitement of exceeding normal human limits.
Dennis Gobar, a British Nobel Laureate in physics, considers that this change of values is a result of a mature society. Gobar believes that in a mature society, human beings pay more attention to the quality of life and the value of spirit than to the quantity of material possessions.
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We can see that the above are some of the reasons for economic softening. Increases in the production efficiency and the reduction of costs in primary and secondary industries have made the market value of tertiary industries increase comparatively. This new mode of consumption, with its concomitant changes in the concept of value, has promoted the development of non-material production over material production, with drastic changes in the entire structure of industry ensuing.
As shown in figure 3, it is directed towards economic activities, social activities, cultural life and psychological activities. Social Progress Requires the Integration of Technology and Art In modern society, people generally do not consider art to be a technology. The arts and technology are, however, essentially one indivisible whole. The term technology is derived from a combination of Greek words techne techniques and skills and logos word and speech , which mean the exposition of modelling arts and applied technology.
Humanistic scholars have tended to lack interest in natural science and technology and, therefore, have lacked knowledge of natural science and technology. Natural scientists have tended to focus on scientific and technical specialization and have often thereby become insensitive to the humanities, with some eventually even preferring to have nothing to do with the subjects of art, beauty and society. Neither is it only an objective scientific and technological system. It is the human activity system that integrates subjectivity and objectivity.
Entertainment technology combines music, movies, TV, video games and the Internet into common media, thus integrating technology and art. Furthermore, entertainment technology finally integrates the technology of beauty with economic profits. This requires a redefinition of technology to include culture and arts: soft technology. The combination of technology and arts will become an inexhaustible source of technology innovation.
Figure 4: Science-Technology-Arts understanding of technology from a narrowly defined concept to a broadly defined one. In addition it will be necessary to enhance research, development and the application of soft technology. In other words, in the wake of several previous industrial revolutions, it is time for human beings to create a conceptual revolution in technology. Notes 1. Hondasyuro, Technological Anthropology.
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Global Technological Change: From Hard Technology to Soft Technology - Second Edition, Jin
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