During the COVID-19 pandemic, digital frontier technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics, amongst others, were mobilized to fight against the pandemic. To build back better from the pandemic and meet the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is imperative to ensure that these technologies are also directed towards inclusive and sustainable development objectives.
This report reviews the status of digital frontier technologies in the Asia-Pacific region. The report stresses that the impacts of a technologically driven future are far from pre-ordained. Therefore, digital frontier technological breakthroughs require us to think differently about how we have traditionally formulated policies in the use of technology. The policy framework for the next generation of technologies should focus on creating an enabling environment for digital frontier technologies to positively impact the economy, the society, and the environment, and to reduce inequalities. A few pre-requisites for the development and application of digital frontier technologies are:
- Inclusive ICT infrastructure;
- Developing a workforce fit for a Fourth Industrial Revolution future;
- Developing innovative regulatory frameworks;
- Incentivizing responsible frontier technology development in the private sector;
- Catalysing the role of the government in the evolution of frontier technologies;
- Creating a platform for multi-stakeholder and regional cooperation; and
- Making digital frontier technologies serve the poor people and the least developed countries.
Cross-government cooperation, inter-governmental knowledge sharing and consensus building, and honest, open and regular discussions with the civil society and the private sector, specifically technology developers, will be critical to ensure that digital frontier technologies have a positive impact for inclusive and sustainable development.