Because I am British, it is a lot easier to get information for Britain, and I do not have
enough knowledge, and first hand experience to write this for America as well, I will be
concentrating on Britain more than elsewhere.
The information revolution would not need the overthrowing of a government (even if it
would need government changes). The main changes during this revolution would come in the
home, industry and the very way we regard technology and the way in which we use this
technology to gain information, where the technology alters the lifestyle and methods used
in everyday life. I feel that, because our views, and lifestyles have changed in such a
significant fashion, we are in the midst of the information revolution.
The power of the home computer is also increasing at a high rate, in accordance with Moore's Law.
The modern "average" family would be at a loss without their TV, video and stereo.
Gradually our lifestyle becomes more and more reliant on gadgets and small miracles of the
modern age - gadgets that we all take totally for granted. The easiest example of this is
the chaos a house is plunged into during a power cut as everything dies, the family try to
find a light source that doesn't need to be plugged in - suddenly candles seem like a good
idea. They also will almost always lose their heating as well since a gas central heating
system uses an electric pump.
The Internet is a major culprit for the change in our outlook on life. In 1993 there were
less than 500 web sites, in 1999 there were (at an estimate by an MIT researcher) 750, 000
to 1, 000, 000 "dot com" sites. Nowadays it is quite possible to stay in your house with no
real reason to leave it. You can purchase almost anything on the Internet, from food and
clothes to cars. You can do your banking and collect your benefits (such as the Dole -
unemployment benefit) over the phone or the Internet. It is estimated that by the year 2003,
33% of Britain's GDP will be dependent on the Internet. This attitude towards life is
causing a generation, which is becoming more socially isolated and far less active, the
children can talk to people in Asia or America or play an online computer game with people
around the world, and will often choose to do this over playing in the street. The Western
World's population is getting more obese and lazy because of this attitude - especially in
America where the problem is worse, 35% of Americans are now classified as stationary
meaning that they walk less than half a mile a week, which is just over 100m a day.
The medical service has improved also due to technology. Diagnosis is far easier
due to the newest scanners and equipment designed to allow isolation of the illness. There
are machines that can keep humans alive after they would otherwise be dead. Machines that
can replace the heart, and techniques that allows injuries and diseases, that would have
been fatal 20 years ago, to be treated successfully. We have developed expectations of the health care services,
we feel that they can cure almost anything, and this blind faith can often cause nasty shocks when we are beyond
Wireless communications have also developed as fast as the Internet. Everyone seems to
carry the ubiquitous mobile phone, in 1991 roughly 2% of people in Britain had a mobile
phone, in 1998 it was 16% and it is estimated to be around 25% - 30% now. This is mainly
due to the improvements in the technology, as well as the heavy subsidising by the Network
service providers like BT Cellnet (now called O2). Now with the advent of G3 phones (using
far greater bandwidth, allowing far more data to be transmitted) and the most up to date
WAP phones people can access information anywhere and at any time.
People used to use mobile phones for emergencies, or maybe for business use, but now people
plan their nights out with text messages, and discuss what they are watching on TV at that
moment. People can communicate with each other so easily that often we totally take this
for granted - people get panicky when their phone's battery is about to run out, when two
years ago, we had nothing that needed to be said so urgently.
Modern Corporations such as GM and Shell, rely very much on their computing technology, if
it fails they cannot function. They therefore have to spend far more money on the backups
and emergency systems than they did on they original system. When the system is also
responsible for human life (such as the modern emergency systems on an oil rig) the system
cannot be allowed to fail. To do so would be to put human life in danger. This has happened
in more than one example. In 1999 there were five cases of people being killed (not always
directly) by robots or automated systems.
This reliance on computer systems has penetrated every aspect of our life.
Most people under 25 cannot do long division, (they just use a calculator), can't spell
properly (but we have spell checkers, why do we need to know how to spell!); they don't
go outside because they can stay inside and have everything they need. They expect
information on whatever topic they may decide to look for, immediately, and easily -
and most of the time they can find it.
The modern technology we have makes our life far easier, almost too easy. We rely very
heavily on our computers and other modern devices. Without them our society would not
be able to function, as we know it, there would be chaos, and a breakdown of life, as we
know it. We need to remember that there is a world out there, and if we don't, then one
day it might not be there to enjoy as such.