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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: June 2012

2 - Transition to an Information Society – Increasing Interconnections and Interdependence

Summary

modern society is increasingly dependent on networked computer systems. The development of information technology in cyberspace has changed our societies, commerce, and lifestyle. These information networks have led to numerous advances in the quality of life by improving the provision of vital services such as power, medicine, and public safety.

The information age is enabled by computing and communications technologies, known as information technologies, whose rapid evolution is almost taken for granted today. Computing and communications systems appear in virtually every sector of the economy and, increasingly, in homes and other locations. These systems focus economic and social activity on information gathering; analyzing, storing, presenting, and disseminating information in text; and numerical, audio, image, and video formats as a product itself or a complement to physical or tangible products. Science and technology have further revolutionized geopolitical strategy, internationalized markets, created new possibilities for environmental or nuclear destruction, undermined totalitarian governments, and changed the conduct of warfare and the basis of economic and political power.

For some time, it has been clear that advances in science and technology are outdistancing the capacity of existing international organizations to deal with them. A glance at the daily newspaper is enough to convince even the most casual observer that there are international dimensions to almost every aspect of science and technology. These dimensions go well beyond the customary international teamwork that characterizes today's massive research and development projects.