Integration and impact of digital technology in developing countries in the context of the Right to Development


Integration and impact of digital technology in developing countries in the context of the Right to Development

On July 20, 2023, Twelve Gates President, Dr. Frank Kaufmann spoke to the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The event, organized by Women’s Federation for World Peace, International (WFWP), focused on the topic of “Integration and impact of digital technology in developing countries in the context of the Right to Development.” 

Dr. Kaufmann’s speech is here. The transcript is just below.

Here below is the informational brochure for this event introducing speakers and subject matter for this international, hybrid event.

HLPF23 Side Event- Speaker&… by Frank Kaufmann


Remarks to the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, July 19, 2023

I am honored to be here today, amongst such distinguished individuals. I wish to thank Merly Barlaan and the Women’s Federation for World Peace for your kind invitation. I know Ms. Baarlan has invested a lot to make this meeting possible.

I am asked to speak for less than four minutes on today’s topic “Integration and impact of digital technology in developing countries in the context of the Right to Development”

The United Nations was originally founded to prevent war, and has expanded its mission in the intervening years. People work for or associate with the UN hoping to address the fact that things are not as they should be.

On December 4, 1986 the United Nations adopted the Right to Development, which is what we are discussing today. The UN has been pursuing this global initiative for 36 years, longer than most in attendance have been alive.

Since 2010 the UN spends on average about 5 Billion US dollars a year, around 65 Billion dollars since the middle of the Obama Presidency.

A million is a thousand thousands. A billion is a thousand millions.

How has progress been then on The Right to Development?

According to the World Bank approximately one quarter of the world’s population live in poverty. 2 Billion people. Poverty rates decrease on average between .1 and 1% a year.

The data seems to suggest that we are struggling in this area.

Why is that?

Will digital technology finally solve our difficulties? Is that the answer?

After 36 years, billions of people, a quarter of the world’s population suffers in abject poverty. Is this because we didn’t have the right technology?

As a way of looking into the question of our gathering, let’s take a look at countries the UN does not seek help in its Right to Development project.

Let’s take the United States as an example.

Is digital technology helping the United States?

In my mind, it is hard to say.

It certainly is making already insanely wealthy people even wealthier.

Besides making wealthy people wealthier and besides subjecting Americans to illegal and invasive government and corporate surveillance, what else is digital technology doing in countries like the United States?

One thing digital technology has done in addition to creating an unaccountable class of power elite preying on US citizens, has been to create a pandemic of what is called Tech Addiction or Digital Addiction.

Dr. Nicholas Kardaras of Stony Brook based rehab research, after working with 1000s of teens for more than 15 years, reports that it is easier to treat heroin and crystal meth addicts than it is to treat video gamers or Facebook-dependent social media addicts.

Dr. Kimberly Young, internationally known expert on Internet addiction, states that 18 percent of college-age internet users in the US suffer from tech addiction.

Refereed clinical studies show that children addicted to the Internet demonstrate severe psychopathology and poor psychosocial functioning. Long-term addiction can induce decreased gray matter volume in certain areas of the brain.

Suicide rates among young people in the US have risen to become a leading cause of death. Murder rates have surged by a staggering 46% over the past decade. Sexual abuse of minors leading to severe and chronic mental health issues, depression, anxiety, and PTSD, have sky-rocketed.

Of course this is not all from the impact of digital technology, but it cannot be denied that nations like the US are absolutely saturated with digital technology.

Will the power elite refrain from using digital technology to abuse and exploit citizens of developing countries? Will they be extra careful not to addict people? Are nations protected from these dangers if they are developing nations?

Please understand it is not my intention to discourage or dishearten us.

I offer my reflections only so that we may think carefully together when looking for hope and solutions to help our beloved brothers and sisters be free and prosper.

Thank you very much.