Running out of Control: Dilemmas of Globalization

Running out of Control: Dilemmas of Globalization

Running out of Control: Dilemmas of Globalization

Running out of Control: Dilemmas of Globalization

Synopsis

• Shows how our attempt to gain control through technology and interconnected systems actually leaves us more open to threat

• Uses a concrete systems-theory approach to explain globalization's impact on contemporary society

• Presents approaches and strategies to correct the threats of a globalized world

Is globalization reducing our ability to guide our futures? Hedley contends that although humankind has historically gained increasing power over its fate, the trajectory of control is now on a downward course. While our globalized systems provide greater scale, access, speed, and efficiency than ever before, we are paradoxically becoming more vulnerable to unseen risks thanks to the massive information and communication infrastructure. This book tells us how to take back control.

Excerpt

I'll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes.

—Puck in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

on may 4, 2000, the so called “love bug” virus, a self-propagating computer worm, infected government, business, and personal computers around the world (CNN 2000a). Spreading like lightning via Microsoft Outlook e-mail systems and attacking all Windows-based computers, the virus destroyed html and script files by overwriting them with its own code, and then inserted itself into all system e-mail addresses, ready to repeat its devastation on all those listed (Virus Bulletin 2000). the virus was activated when unsuspecting e-mailers opened a “LOVE-LETTERFOR-YOU.TXT” file, or twenty-two known variants, including “Virus ALERT!!!” warnings (Computer Associates 2000). in just twenty-four hours, the love bug had wreaked havoc worldwide, immobilizing most communication and information systems it infiltrated and costing billions of dollars in damage and lost productivity. the alleged perpetrator was a twenty-two-year-old male college student in the Philippines (CNN 2000b).

This sensational news event serves as a useful illustration of what this book is about. First, it is about revolutionary changes in how the world is structured. Increasingly, the forces of production, distribution/transmission, and consumption of goods and services are globally organized, having been managed originally at local, regional, and then national levels. Second, it is about control. Human history may be characterized as a series of varied attempts to improve our odds against nature and to gain control over our individual and collective destinies. Over the millennia, through the development and application of various strategic technologies, we have managed to expand human control to include the total . . .

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