New technologies

It is widely acknowledged that new technologies play a critical role in making economies more productive and creating better paying jobs.

Indeed, throughout developing Asia, high-yielding crop varieties in agriculture, modern machine tools in manufacturing, and new information and communications technologies in services have done much to support food security, dramatically curb poverty, and improve labor market conditions. Yet, there is growing concern about the potential downsides of new technology.

In particular, the growing sophistication of robotics and artificial intelligence raises the possibility that an unprecedented degree of automation may render many jobs obsolete. In textile and footwear manufacturing, for example, companies are testing “worker-less” factories, using completely automated production. In services, it is becoming technically feasible to automate even complex tasks such as customer support and book-keeping. —