The UK ranks 14th in a list of countries that use technology to improve the quality of life, according to new research. Norway and Australia topped the list holding the number one and two spots, respectively.
The Human Development Report 2001, commissioned by the United Nations Development Program, insists that technology is crucial for countries looking to make their citizens' lives better. It ranks countries according to how they are currently using technology to achieve this goal.
The report put Canada in third place, after it had been the leader for the previous six years, while Sweden and Belgium rounded out the top five. The US dropped from third to sixth position.
Iceland came in seventh followed by The Netherlands, Japan and Finland. Switzerland, Luxembourg, France, the UK and Denmark filled out the top 15. The report ranked Norway top because of the country's high number of internet users and its advanced science education provided by its schools.
Potential technology leaders for the future include Portugal, Spain, Greece, Poland and Mexico.
The report said that the 20th century's unprecedented gains in advancing human development and eradicating poverty came largely from technological breakthroughs. The gains were also propelled by medical technology including antibiotics and vaccines.
"Often those with the least have the least to fear from the future, and certainly their governments are less encumbered by special interests committed to yesterday's technology," the report said of the opportunities which developing countries have if they aggressively pursue technology-based business initiatives.
Quality of life issues such as health care were also factored into the rankings. In life expectancy, the US, which ranks 24th, is not only behind Japan, which is the only country in the world where the average child born today can expect to live over 80 years, but also Spain, Greece and Cyprus.
The study noted that Sierra Leone, where a child born today will probably die before reaching the age of 39, is ranked last. The bottom 28 countries in the rankings, which include Rwanda, Central African Republic, Chad and Mozambique, are all in Africa.
The report asked for greater international funding for technological research and development, and different pricing between rich and poor countries for hi-tech products.
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