2 Why understanding technology evaluation matters
2.1 The scale of technology investment
Put bluntly, the scale and scope of spending on technology at every level of society worldwide, and the claims and expectations of the economic and social benefits that technology can deliver, ought to mean that technology assessment and evaluation matter. For example, Wray (2007) reported in The Guardian that the global consumer electronics market was predicted to be worth $618.6 billion (£301.5 billion), with an estimated increase of a further 8 per cent for 2008. This is equivalent to $100 for every person on the planet, and is equal to the gross domestic product (GDP) of The Netherlands. The report went on to note that this masks significant variations in actual spending. In western Europe average annual spending on electronic goods per household is $1028. In the United States it is slightly more at $1264.
Spending on consumer technology provides an interesting contrast with military spending, much of which is on technology. Shah (2007) notes that by 2005 global military spending was estimated to have reached $1118 billion: equivalent to 2.5 per cent of world GDP, or $173 per person. Again this masks significant variations in spending from country to country, with the USA responsible for 48 per cent of the total. Shah reports that China is the second largest spender, with a 165 per cent increase in spending between 1996 and 2005. However, the US spend was still seven times larger than this. Russia, the UK, Japan and France make up the remainder of the top six.
Activity 5 Scale of technology spend
Try to think about a minimum of one and a maximum of three examples of the scale of spending on technology. Examples can be of any technology and from anywhere in the world.