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close this bookTechnological Independence The Asian experience (UNU, 1994, 372 pages)
close this folder7. The lessons from Asia: From past experience to the future
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentChina
View the documentIndia
View the documentRepublic of Korea
View the documentThailand
View the documentPhilippines
View the documentJapan
View the documentThe geopolitical environment and the local socio-economic situation
View the documentFormal S&T structure and industry
View the documentThe rural-urban relationship
View the documentInformal and formal sectors
View the documentNew generic technologies
View the documentSocial shaping of technology
View the documentConscious shaping of the technology
View the documentExisting agendas for shaping technology
View the documentConcluding remarks
View the documentNotes

Existing agendas for shaping technology

The conscious social shaping of the new technologies, one should note, has already been attempted in a pan-European programme to develop "human-centred" technologies.39 Here, a philosophy of "anthromo-pocentric" production systems has been adopted by the Forecasting and Assessment in Science and Technology (FAST) programme of research in Europe, which has an advisory relationship with the EC countries.40

The FAST programme studies production systems which emphasize desirable human qualities, and which take cultural differences into account. It has internalized the fact that in Europe there are many cultures and that technologies should accommodate this variety. It is expected that such anthropocentric technologies, because of their human scope, will be efficient and make European industry very competitive in the twenty-first century.41

Efforts similar to FAST, which take into account the social and cultural givers, are exercises in self-reliance that could be profitably emulated in the Asian region, whose cultures diverge from each other much more than in Europe. As the region increasingly adopted the new technologies, its local cultural bent would inevitably be stamped on them, often in implicit ways. The way to a more productive and socially relevant technological future is a strategy that uses the strengths of local cultural traditions, including their knowledge inputs.

A region which is fast emerging from the shadow of Europe, and which, earlier, was also home to some of the world's most vibrant civilizations, would find such an approach congenial. Making the new technologies socially responsive, in line with this extended view of self-reliance would in addition increase both productivity and social wellbeing.