The Information Society

 

1. Information Society

1.1 Natural Evolution

1.2 Planet Earth

1.3 Citizens VS Society

1.4 More Lost Civilizations?

 

  1. A Knowledge-based World

2.1 The NET human generation

2.2 A new class of knowledge workers & organizations

2.3 Work? Or Occupation?

2.4 The New Virtual School

 

3. A Strategic Business Vision

3.1 The Electronic Commerce

3.2 The Economic Monsters Attack

3.3 Winners and Losers

 

4. Future Teller

4.1 The Information Holocaust

4.2 Paradise on Earth

 

 

Fortunato Costa

Macau, 22/November/1997

[ Master's Degree Project of Public Policies Theory, Coordinator ]

[ Professor: Exm. Sr. Eng. Roberto Carneiro ]

 

 

1.1 Natural Evolution

 

Since always, fast and reliable communications were fundamental to win battles and to protect the Power of the Lords of War. The invention of Computers and their direct involvement in military actions since the Second World War made them strategic tools of victory. But, to better make wars, men needed to link the computers in the decision centers with the war zones.

 

So, since the 1970's the US Defense Department pushed the scientific World to develop a communication protocol and one operating system to better link computers for data transfer and for electronic mail purposes. It was the origin of TCP/IP, Transport Communication Protocol/Internet Protocol. And the operating system was called UNIX.

 

This so called "Internet Protocol", turned the World up side down in 27 years...

 

Each Human being believes that He is the center of the Universe. Since we born our eyes, our ears start searching to understand what is happening around us, and at once we start to communicate with the outside World to satisfy our needs. We grow, we do our part to keep the existence of the Human Kind - so we have children and we try our best with all our love to raise them in harmony, and to in-rich them with all the possible knowledge, culture - and one day we die. Just like tree leafs burning slowly during seventy, eighty years. Is it sad?

 

But, until now, only a few of us have the capacity, or the time, to understand that we are just the center of ourselves, only that. When we achieve this point of view of life, things will become different, and much better...

 

 "I think... so I exist!" - Said one day, centuries ago, a great French Philosopher. In my opinion, he is only half right. Why? In a relative view of the Universe, when we assume that we are the center of the World, this wised phrase is beautiful and logic in all senses. But, in a very simplistic way, when we assume that we are not the real center of the Universe, the Great Philosopher is not correct. How do you know that another human is thinking? Can a dead think? Can a rock think? How about a flower? In fact, the phrase should be: "I communicate... so I exist!!".

 

I have been trying to E-Mail that new adjustment to him but he never replied, probably is not thinking anymore.

 

So let's make philosophy: "I communicate... so I exist!!"

 

 It is very clear, what is happening to the Human kind. Communication is the key to move over to the next step of our civilization. By communicating, we understand better that we are no longer the centers of the World, and we are learning how to trust, and how to rely and live permanently linked with other humans like us, in a passive (taker) or active way (maker) of knowledge perspective. Normally the eldest ones, with also more knowledge and culture, become the Makers of knowledge in this so called New Information Society.

 

We are facing a Natural Evolution of our civilization. Developed Countries are understanding that wars are expensive, and that there are less expensive ways to dominate, such by knowledge or financial powers. Less developed Countries are understanding that fact too... Knowledge is no longer a medium to achieve development but also the main objective of the development.

And with knowledge (including culture and ethics) men will learn to accept difference, and, then, that it is the difference that makes Human nature grow.

 

We are moving very fast from the Communication to the Knowledge Era... We are becoming ready.

 

1.2 Planet Earth

 

Where is the center of the Universe then? By the way... where it starts and ends that Universe? Believe me, nobody knows. And who are the Creators of that entire Universe?

 

The Universe is so huge - with so many millions of planets, stars, and other things that nobody saw or even guessed yet - that in fact our beautiful Mother Earth is almost insignificant in all the universal context.

 

The true reality is: men can completely destroy civilizations, launch half a dozen of atomic bombs to kill himself and all live beings (it seems that some animals will survive, cockroach perhaps, ...) but nobody in the Universe will care about it. If the Planet Earth evaporates for any reason no one in the Universe will notice that. Do you believe that? Alright, may be in our solar system some gravity problems will arise, but softly adjusted in a few years.

And what more will happen? Probably the Creators will say: "What a lost of time to publish the official Earth Religion Books: Bible, Coran, ..." and a few Mails will be transferred between some planets and aliens ships, like for example: "The Planet ...2legs4arms1head... is gone, dummy crazy nut aliens.".

 

Yes! This is a pure mathematical case were probabilities show that we are not alone in the Universe. Come on... with millions of planets, we are the only lucky ones to exist?! It was a tremendous waste of space... if that could happen.

For sure, some aliens are living in other planets so far way from our Planet Earth that they will need a few thousand years the make a trip from their planet to ours. Forget it... they are probably like us, they don't care about what is happening on the other galaxies. And they truly believe that they are alone in the Universe... poor stupid, ignorant, crazy aliens!

Obviously, there is a CREATOR, but in an universal scale...

 

We are now learning how to communicate…

But we are still on the basics. Unfortunately we don’t know yet how to communicate with our Earth Aliens, such as: bees, ants, …

 

1.3 Citizens VS Society

 

Due to the fast grow of low cost telecommunication infrastructures - such as Internet - we are now living in a Global Village. The World is really becoming smaller.

In a result of this fact there are some new comprehensive impacts, already pointed out by Prof. Roberto Carneiro:

 

Now, citizens know better their rights and how to protect them. On the other side the State, with less power, depends also on the decision making of the citizens during the political elections – The Democracy.

 

More advanced Cultures, Because of more powerful telecommunication infrastructures and covered by strong financial groups (Multi-nationals) intend to dominate and impose their Cultures (McDonalds, Coca-Cola, …). This is a real danger for the majority of the passive human civilizations.

On the other side this new information possibilities can re-born lost cultures, if there is an active position from these small cultural members. Specially if they turn into Information Makers.

Earth is a limited resource system.

With the fast grow of human kind - the lack of environmental protection and no decentralization incentives – obliges Men to live in, fast growing, enormous Mega-Towns to have a decent job… this is the most ridiculous human kind decision of our civilization.

How can FAMILY exist? If the father and mother spend four hours every day in transportation to/back from their offices. How can children raise in harmony? How can we transmit them cultural values, ethics, family values, and love? Yes Love… there is no time.

 

Science and Technology development is moving faster and faster. But always with the business perspective behind. Besides this negative aspect, in fact the information society is opening more minds and spirits every day, with the new communication tool called Internet, a university professor in Africa can know at once what are the latest discoveries on its professional field, even he can be an active participant anywhere (Net Video conferencing and full Internet access using VSAT systems).

 

Today "the Mountain goes to Maumé…". Communication infrastructures are already producing high quality tele-education and tele-training. Multimedia is changing our concepts of education. Specially because is much more fun to learn interactively using text, sound, music, video, … A Teacher, a Book are no longer special gods of knowledge, now we can interact with them. We can ask questions and have answers online. A Book can never offer this possibility, but a Electronic Book can, The CD-ROM.

How about those Professors that are very rare specialists on their fields. Today it is easy to have a chat with some of them on the NET, using IRC, ICQ, tele-meeting, …

 

Quality of Life is improving because of the possibility of people to do things without leaving their Homes. And also due to this aspect people are moving away from the Mega-Towns into the less urbanized zones.

The access to knowledge and information is becoming possible even to third development countries.

Parents can stay much more time with their children. The word Family is, again, meaning something.

 

Exclusions! Yes, the ones that always will have a passive way of living can be excluded sooner or later, probably because nobody knows that they exist.

And if you don’t have a site on the Net today…

 

1.4 More Lost Civilizations?

 

The small cultures and civilizations can completely disappear if they don’t turn into active information Makers…

The word globalization has many interpretations. But the most logical one is: One Only Language, One Only Currency, One Only Culture, … Yes! One only BlaBlaBla!

 

In fact, this One Only BlaBlaBla, just makes things easier for the large multi-nationals to grow faster with less investments worldwide.

 

One Man can be intelligent and emotional. But a bunch of people, normally, are quite a bit less clever and with zero emotions. Now, try to imagine a group of organized persons with the objective to win money – exactly, like in the Cartoon: "Pinky, tonight we are going to take over the World!" – this type of organisms are the real dangers of our society and any country.

For these economic monsters, small cultures or civilizations are just groups of potential customers.

This does not mean that we should avoid multi-nationals. We must create legislation to protect the local cultures and the environment. Objective regulation to control the way they perform.

 

What is the meaning of Lost?

Very simple, we are Lost, if nobody knows where we are, even if we do exist. Alright, it depends also on the referential: can be the fact that we cannot find something, or we don’t know where we are, or where it is.

 

The truth is that, a Lost Civilization is no longer forgotten if at least one of its members is producing information about it. probably it will turn into an Ancient Civilization.

 

The Information Society can have a very positive impact if people really know how to share and use its power: by expressing and developing value added information about themselves for others: their own Culture!

  

2. A Knowledge-based World

 

2.1 The NET human generation

 

Internet is a growing Giant Encyclopedia... with almost free access to all. The use of Information Technology became a Fashion. Our children are now, more and more, using the Net available tools to communicate with friends and visit Web sites.

 

Informational Knowledge is becoming popular, to all kind of people. Does not matter what you do or what you are looking for, for sure the Internet has some information that can be helpful to your case.

 

Due to the Net influence, specially the youngest, generations are turning into very special kind of people: open minded, confident, fast thinkers, real problem ‘crackers’, … in fact the Net Generation is much more flexible, adaptable and more functional human beings than the previous generations ones. Only due to synergies produced by sharing and discussing ideas without any concepts such as: age, sex, culture, race or level of knowledge.

 

Learning how to communicate is the key for the next Century Civilizations. And one of the first lessons that we receive when we join the Net meetings/chats is the following one: if you want to be respected by others, you only can achieve that status if you respect, and accept, others differences such as: cultural, races, sex, even absurd opinions… This is, may be, one of the fundamental ethical principles of all times.

 

The ones with more knowledge and more experience has to share and discuss with the others in equal position. There are no superiors and inferiors, in fact these kind of relationship is the best educational method of all times.

The gap of power motivated by knowledge becomes smaller. This is benefic in all aspects. But, we must have our full attention on the reaction of our children.

Information Technology is a tremendous power that we are putting in our children hands. And, as in all kinds of power we must watch it out carefully, by preparing our youths with adequate ethical and societal values.

 

We cannot forget how contradictory humans are: "To much good can turn into bad… and vice-versus".

 

2.2 A new class of knowledge Workers & Organizations

 

We can already imagine what is going to happen when the 90’s generation will turn into labor, and managerial, force.

 

Of course these kind of new workers will turn everything upside down. They will be mind free - no superior or inferior complexes - much more flexible, reactive, creative, rational, emotionally intelligent and multi-functional workers (and managers) than the workers of the previous generations.

 

Even today, according to Prof. Roberto Carneiro, organizational charts are becoming more flexible and flat oriented in deterioration of complex, rigid, hierarchical structures. This is already the influence of the 80’s generation, the pre Information Society generation.

 

Knowledge is something that is now part of our life. Like the blood is for the Body the Informational Knowledge is already fundamental for the Brain and Information Systems.

In fact, no human or organization will survive without permanent and healthy new informational knowledge.

 

Life time training and education is the solution, not if a form of obligation but without efforts, permanent, softly… like a funny chat with a couple of friends.

 

2.3 Work? Or Occupation?

 

A very wised Portuguese University Teacher, Professor Agostinho da Silva, many years ago, was asking frequently the following question to its students: "Should the Man work? Or should the Man look for an occupation to be helpful to the society?".

At that time, many important persons were shocked with this question…

 

But, in my opinion, this is a very interesting and delicate question.

 

Intelligence should not be spent in routines that easily can be performed by any kind of sophisticated robot or machine.

 

According statistics, now it is five to ten times less expensive to produce food than ten years ago. The reality is here: everything that can be programmed will go into mass production under one of those multi-nationals with amazingly low costs. The Man will have no chance to compete against this mass production systems.

 

Will an intelligent man have fun to do the same thing every day? Does he like to feel exactly like any stupid machine? Of course not.

 

So, like always, there will be a way out… Man has to search for ways to spend the time and by being useful to the society. The dream of any Man is society recognition!

And the more exciting form of human recognition is originality. Obviously every human wants to be unique, different from all the others. And what is the way to achieve this status? Of course… Creativity!!

 

Yes! Man will be paid for its creativity and imagination power to find new solutions and original ways to create and satisfy new human needs. Teachers, Artists, Designers, Dream Creators, …

We all must be creators, or any stupid machine will replace us!!

 

And were can we be more creative? Simply, by doing the things we like to do when we don’t want to do anything: Yes… occupation.

 

Once more, Professor Agostinho da Silva was right.

 

2.4 The New Virtual School

 

Once more, Professor Agostinho da Silva based on a story of Prof. Roberto Carneiro, will be used to make this point.

 

To Professor Agostinho da Silva, a School is a place where we can go any time of the day, any day of the week and ask: "What must I know today?". "What don’t I know?".

 

Imagine ten years ago, what a ridiculous school that could be.

But now, in the end of the XX Century, can we think the same way? Is that a ridiculous school?

Not anymore. The Internet information databases are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. And we can now wake up 4H a.m. on Sunday, sit in front of our Computer and ask…

 

The Information Society is creating The New Virtual Schools where the best teachers can be online to talk and discuss subjects with students, and other fellow teachers, worldwide and Live. Just like when we see a football match on our TV set, but here, we also can make goals, we also are real players too.

 

Many Teachers, or Specialists, are using already the Internet to teach and train people worldwide. This is a great event specially if we look to the reductions in transportation costs and road (airplane) traffic gems.

 

The New Virtual School, like Virtual Information Centers will turn educational and training methods upside down, in the good sense of course. Professor Agostinho da Silva School is becoming a reality…

 

3. A Strategic Business Vision

 

3.1 The Electronic Commerce

 

Electronic Commerce is taking over the World.

 

No more intermediaries, the Consumer purchases directly from the producer.

 

This has tremendous advantages for the Consumer, specially in costs, products are tax free. On the other hand the Producer turns into a multi-national scale industry by doing very nice and functional Internet sites, just pure marketing in motion.

 

Well, the problem will arise if everybody wants to do the same…

 

Presently, Governments are having great difficulties in taxing this new type of world scale transactions… it seems, obviously, impossible to control.

 

3.2 The Economic Monsters Attack

 

As referred previously, the great dangers of our Society are now the Money Monsters.

 

They easily can influence political parties, governments, associations and all this, in a worldwide scale.

Using sometimes mafia and triad methods to achieve their objectives, they are becoming stronger and stronger every day.

They are the new Masters of War.

 

Today, they are still using the political forces as shields. But very soon, if society does not prevent it, they will try to win elections directly, the Perot Case is a clear evidence.

 

For them, there are no cultures, or countries. Just Consumers. And they are trying to reduce the World to only one currency, on language, one culture, … just because their balance sheets will have less costs.

 

Again, I am not against multi-nationals. I do believe they are very useful to human kind because they can offer high quality products with a very low cost.

 

I believe Society must impose them rules of social behavior and economic grow control. Obliging them to respect local cultures, such for example, imagine McDonals in Portugal selling "MacSardinha", or the new "Cola-Porto" from Cola-Cola, this are only simple jokes… but the concept is correct.

Regarding economic grow, they should pay higher taxes when profits increase.

And, of course, the local producers must be protected directly by the multi-nationals.

 

3.3 Winners and Losers

 

In all stories, there is the winner and the looser.

 

This is no exception. Certainly, the winners are the multi-nationals and the loosers are the small local companies… No, not quite like that.

 

In fact Intelligence, Originality, Flexibility, Marketing and Fast Decision Making are the secret Success Keys of the Winning Organizations, specially if all these efforts are seriously focused to the Information Society – in a Consumer & Producer – friendly, funny relationship.

 

Knowledge! Yes, informational knowledge is also a key of success. The ones that have something interesting to teach (to inform!!) to the all World are the winners.

Who do you trust first? Your Parents and later your Teachers… they tell you stories for you to learn how to prepare yourself to survive, to grow, to be successful and how to find happiness by fulfilling your needs.

 

These are the Winners… The ones that have something ‘important’ to tell, the Informational Knowledge Makers.

 

The Takers will be the loosers.

 

4. Future Teller

 

4.1 The Information Holocaust

 

One thing is happening already, the amount of information available on the Internet is so large, that we need specialists to help searching the databases for hours, and hours.

 

It seems Search Engines such as yahoo.com, or sapo.pt, or aeiou.pt, … are still the solution to find information on the NET.

 

But what happen if these Search Engines are purchased or sponsored by large business oriented multi-nationals?

And every time you search for info they point you to one of their business sites?

And what about if they start charging you for any question you ask?

And how do we feel if we have to pay every time we want to announce our site?

 

What about if the U.S.A. decides to charge everybody that have a link in their Search Engines?

 

Can you imagine if the Americans consider American Taxable Companies all the Web sites registered in Internic? They have the right to do it…

How much publicity can we support together with informational knowledge? How do you feel about a break in a soccer match every five minutes?

 

Well…

 

Technology will reduce costs every day, and with more tremendous power and fastest speeds. The amounts of multi-media informational knowledge are already increasing exponentially.

Without the interference of large multi-nationals, if that will still be possible, Man will know how to handle it… Man is a specialist on such cases.

We always go to the easiest way, the zero decision making way… that means, no decision at all, may be is the solution.

Let’s see the result in a few months.

 

4.2 Paradise on Earth

 

In the last paragraph we pointed out bad ways for the Information Society to evolve.

 

In this paragraph we should focus on the good aspects of the Information Superhighway. In fact we have been referring them since the first page of this paper, now it is the time to summarize them.

 

But… wait.

 

Let’s be different…

 

Now, everything is interactive.

 

Why can’t my paper be interactive too?

 

So… now this part of the Paper - Paradise on Earth – is for every reader, interactively, to perform virtually.

 

Alright, put some Nat King Cole music – "Greatest LOVE SONGS" – is fine.

 

Now…

 

Think about the happiest things of your life – your Family? – the best moments…

 

Close your eyes…

 

… and go deep into your Dreams… your own Virtual World of Paradise on Earth.

 

 

 

 

Thank you Professor Roberto Carneiro.

 


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