The Role of Science and Technology In Society

Science and technology is a critical and greatly improving area in most countries if not all. However, as it requires large amounts of man power and materials, a great deal of money is required. Governments provide a substantial amount of this money, and therefore they often make decisions regarding the direction and quantity of the money that should be placed into certain technologies. It is also the government’s role to decide which technologies will be used, and how (Bridgstock 1998:12).
During recent times the science and technology field has dramatically changed. For example, stunning developments are being made by the Third World and science and technology has become more focussed on the government’s short-term economic goals. These developments by the Third World are due to the technology transfer from more advanced, industrialized countries. The Third world is only able to use appropriate technologies, which makes their choices limited, but offers many benefits and opportunities (Bridgstock 1998:12).
Appropriate technology was created as a way of enhancing national independence by encouraging people to use local substitutes rather than imported resources, and is aimed at improving technologies that already exist in the Third World. By making small adjustments to existing technologies the Third World only has to create variations of technologies they are familiar with. This ensures that Third World countries work within their capabilities (Bridgstock 1998:223). Appropriate technology is the idea that lower level technologies, using local resources are more appropriate than higher level technologies that require imported resources.

This idea has been used unsuccessfully by England, where inventors tried to sell their new product, based on the Third World’s local resources they were selling to. An example of this was an Englishman who tried selling his new cooking stove in Kenya. The cooking stove was more wood economical than others at the time and could be built from clay found in Kenya. A total of 250 stoves were sold. Whilst these stoves were being sold in Kenya, a kerosene stove from Japan was also introduced into the market. However, the kerosene stove did not use local resources and as a result the kerosene was imported.
A massive 10,000 kerosene stoves were sold via normal commercial channels, which is 9,750 more sold than the wood stove. Before it can be said that appropriate technology does not work, there are some potential reasons that the kerosene stove sold better than the wood stove. Firstly, the kerosene stove was cheaper, which makes a product dramatically more appealing in a country with very little money. Secondly, the kerosene stove was advertised through commercial channels and the wood stove was not advertised at all. Thirdly, the way in which the idea of appropriate technology was presented, did not appeal to the Kenyans.
Finally, appropriate technology focuses largely on the organization of distribution and construction, which is usually the weakest area of Third World countries (John McCarthy 1996). Less developed countries should learn from and use appropriate technologies and ideas that have been successful in other countries. However, due to less developed countries having fewer people with a talent for organizing or industrial experience, introducing new technologies tends to be harder and a more complex process than in other, more developed countries.
A solution to this problem is for less developed countries to adopt appropriate technologies and become more talented and experienced in them. After a period of time the country will become richer as it is able to export these technologies/goods to countries needing them. The money gained from exporting these technologies/goods can then be placed into training people to become more experienced in industries, allow individuals to gain an ability for organizing and raise the average wage. These factors will increase the amount of technologies appropriate for their country, and the process can then be repeated.
When people hear the words ‘technology transfer’ often the first thing that will come to mind is the trade of technology from an advanced country to a Third World country. This interpretation is incorrect as there is much more to technology transfer than exportation and importation. The process also includes an understanding and ability to perform methods and procedures that are required to create the desired result (P. F. Basch 1993:353-358). When the Third World first began transferring technologies from industrialized,
Western countries back to their own countries, problems arose due to different resources and machinery available. The Third World did not realise that Western technologies were specific to the conditions of an industrialized country (Bridgstock 1998:216). According to Bhalla, A (1994) this is preventable if industrial countries keep in mind the different requirements of the Third World whilst designing technologies that will be sold to these less developed countries. However, evidence indicates that the industrial world’s research and development (R&D) system is doubtful of responding to any concerns.
Less developed countries need to adopt appropriate technologies as these technologies will ensure less developed countries can manage and have the specific resources required. If underdeveloped countries do adopt appropriate technologies, they will be able to increase profits, increase the amount of technologies appropriate for their country, increase the level of their R&D and possibly change their countries status as underdeveloped. However, if underdeveloped countries do not undertake appropriate technologies, they will unfortunately be unable to move forward as a country.

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