The Silicon Society

The Silicon Society

The Silicon Society

The Silicon Society

Excerpt

What's in a question mark? The lectures on which this book is based were entitled 'Silicon Society?'. I wanted to indicate two things. First, that the social changes associated with the 'silicon chip' are huge, and far-reaching. Second, that they raise questions and prompt critique.

So the issue of how the chip will change our lives is only half the story. Although I am convinced that much of the chip's impact is beneficial, we must not be blinkered and ignore its other effects. This book is largely about the other effects. Allowing new technology to shape society is one thing. How we should shape new technology is another. The two sides of the story must be kept together.

Do not be misled by dire predictions about doom in the computer industry, or crises in new communications. These are but the ups and downs of brand new technologies. Some companies do collapse, some innovations do fall by the way- side. But the overall trends are unmistakable. Information technology is rapidly becoming a key to the future development of the world economy.

This book touches on many areas affected by new technology. First, we set the scene, by looking at what is meant by the 'second industrial revolution'. Second, we examine what computer automation means for the world of work, skill, and (un)employment. Farms, factories and offices are all affected. In some cases, we find people working from home, in the electronic cottage'. The new telecommunications make such 'homeworking' possible. But this aspect of new technology also has many other implications -- cable TV, satellite broadcasting, new data networks -- which are the subject of the third chapter.

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