Moving fast with frontier technologies

UNCTAD Policy Brief No. 109

In the last two decades, the use of frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of things and energy from renewable sources has undergone significant growth, and this trend is expected to continue. However, there is still considerable concentration in these markets.

The leading frontier technology providers are mostly firms from China, the United States of America and a few other developed countries, with little participation from developing countries. The same pattern is observed with regard to knowledge generation and trade.

Governments of developing countries should take proactive action to increase preparedness to use, adopt and adapt such technologies and to take up the economic opportunities linked to them.

Some of the challenges associated with the adoption of new technologies in developing countries are addressed in this policy brief, and some policy recommendations are proposed.

Key points:

  • Frontier technologies have grown significantly in the last two decades and will continue to impact economic and social systems in future.
  • There is a significant gap between developed and developing countries in terms of preparedness to use, adopt and adapt frontier technologies. Developed countries currently dominate as providers of such technologies and in knowledge generation and trade.
  • Governments in developing countries need to take proactive action to catch up and close the gap.

For further information on and analysis of the topics discussed in this policy brief, see Technology and Innovation Report 2023: Opening Green Windows – Technological Opportunities for a Low-Carbon World.

Moving fast with frontier technologies - UNCTAD Policy Brief No. 109 
6 Jun 2023