Law, Decision-Making, and Microcomputers: Cross-National Perspectives

By Stuart S. Nagel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Repercussions of Computer
Technology on United States
Law and Lawyers

James V. Vergari


INTRODUCTION

This is a technological society--the Age of Computer Technology. Technological development is compressing time and impregnating all factors in the relationship between technology, society, and the law. The computer technology revolution has potentially greater consequences than the Industrial Revolution had. While the Industrial Revolution harnessed machines to multiply the power of human muscle, computer technology can be utilized to expand the power of the human mind. Technology has completely transcended common law; there has been a latent chain reaction from computer technology in the legal system and the practice of law. Information technology can and does change not only the way we do things but perhaps, more importantly, what we do. The information processing revolution has transformed the United States and the world into a technologically based society. The computer is becoming as commonplace as the telephone or television.

The ubiquity of computer technology is experienced by all. Typing is done on a word processor; computers maintain bank account and securities records; banking transactions are done at automatic teller machines. Merchants use computer terminals in place of cash registers, which instantaneously transmit sales and inventory data to its data processing center. Computers are also used to fly and land aircraft, route telephone calls, navigate satellites, telecommunicate data and information from distant planets, and even predict who may be the president of the United States before the voting places close. Even the Vatican is reported as using computer systems to help redo the Sistine Chapel.

In the health care field and in medicine, computers are used for the operation of complex medical equipment such as CAT (computer axial topography) scan-

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