will the Information revolution lead?
years from now, by the year 2020, the information revolution will have
altered life on this planet even more dramatically than in the last 20
years, according to the experts. Even if they hesitate to specify exactly
what the technological changes might be over the next two decades, the
experts offer even more intriguing insights into how those technological
changes could, in turn, change us as people, as nations, and as a global
web of human thought and action. With regard to technological breakthroughs,
the fear of forecasting the future is forgivable. Back in 1980, a mere
20 years ago, almost no one could have predicted the explosive growth
of the World Wide Web. But in 1980 there was still no hypertext language
for navigating from web site to web site, still no graphical interface,
nothing like today's chat rooms, no laptop computers, and no cell phones,
let alone cell phones that could deliver e-mail via satellite. Conversely,
predictions that once seemed reasonable now appear na´ve in retrospect.
With regard to overall technological trends, on the other hand, efforts
to anticipate the future are more than exercises in futility. While it
is risky to predict the future in detail, it may be even more foolish
not to prepare for it at all, especially when the future
promises to bring changes as swift and pervasive as those made possible
by the information revolution.