Shaky growth engine projects

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Shaky growth engine projects

The government has announced nine state projects to foster new growth engines to drive the country’s economy in the future. The projects, named in a science and technology strategy meeting chaired by President Park Geun-hye, included technologies dubbed as essential for the future such as artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality.

The government hopes to get technology standards up to par with advanced economies within the next decade. The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said the projects were chosen to reflect global trends and the governance philosophies of incumbent governments that champion economies oriented towards creativity and innovation.

Despite such grandiose rhetoric, the science field remains skeptical. The so-called state-sponsored businesses for new growth change too often. We have already seen three under the incumbent government. The government does not have a broad picture or long-term vision for future society, but lists them from the buzzwords in the ICT community.

The so-called green growth agenda the previous Lee Myung-bak government sought was discarded when Park came into office. New growth engine projects that should be pursued with a push for at least 10 years change every year according to the latest trends. As soon as a new government steps in, research budgets stop coming in, making developments go to waste. Researchers therefore focus on developments that can come up immediately and avoid works that require long-term commitment.

According to the report on Korea by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in May, Korea ranked first in R&D investment against its gross domestic product. But instead of focusing on certain areas like AI or augmented reality, the government should come up with long-term outline of what technologies society needs and how to rationalize R&D spending for the best possible yield.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 11, Page 30
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