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US VP Biden Calls for Fair Share of Technological Benefits

  • Zlatica Hoke

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has called for a fairer share of the benefits of technological advances, at an annual economic forum in Switzerland.

The meeting of political and economic leaders in the Alpine resort of Davos takes place amid reports of record disparity between the world's few wealthiest people and a growing number of poor and homeless.

One participant has attracted more attention at the forum in Davos this week than any central banker or world leader. The South Korean robot called HUBO is signaling a new era of fast technological innovation that will include mobile phones implanted in the body, 3D-printed organs for transplants and clothing connected to the Internet.

But not everyone will be able to afford them, warned the U.S. vice president.

"Will we end up creating more of a two-tier society than exists today?" Biden asked.

Wealth disparity

Biden spoke days after Oxfam reported that the world's 62 richest people own as much wealth as half of all the world's population. He called for the elimination of offshore tax havens for the rich, and he urged political and business leaders to create opportunities for everyone.

"When people feel that their shot at a decent life is dashed, is eliminated, the inevitable human reaction is anxiety, frustration and anger – providing fertile terrain for reactionary politicians, demagogues peddling xenophobia, anti-immigration, nationalist, isolationist views. And it begins to shred our social fabric in each of our countries. It stirs instability," he said.

Queen Rania of Jordan, where Syrian refugees now make up 20 percent of the population, said short-term solutions lead to long-term distress. She appealed to rich countries to create a special economic zone for the refugees.

"Now, when you do that, not only are you giving the refugee the sense of economic self-suffficiency which will lower the cost of hosting refugees, but you're also giving him skills and training that he'll put to good use once he returns to his country," she said.

One of the main challenges before the global leaders is how to end the spread of terrorism that threatens societies everywhere.