Did you feel that?
No? Then perhaps you weren't paying attention.
SARS... or fear of SARS (which is more likely) has combined with the digital revolution, to change everything. Mark this date: 5/22/2003, for it marks
an important milestone in the evolution of society.
Our world has been changing rapidly over the past 110 years, but really, the change has just begun. Just as the coils of Tesla fundamentally changed
society and culture in the early part of the previous century, the integrated circuit of Kilby is causing massive change into this century. It was a
very simple device that Jack Kilby showed to a handful of co-workers gathered in TI's semiconductor lab more than 40 years ago -- only a transistor
and other components on a slice of germanium. Little did this group know, but Kilby's invention, less than a square inch and wafer thin in size,
called an integrated circuit, was about to revolutionize society more dramatically than Tesla's coils.
We've seen and have grown tied of the myriad buzz-words used to define our new age -- the "information age", the "wired culture", the "Internet
revolution", "media convergence", etc. -- but these simplistic descriptions miss this important point in history that started it all, the invention
of the integrated circuit. As a result, now one core technology is underneath our communications, purchasing, monetary systems, and information
storage. Digital technology touches everything.
And now, the Digital Revolution
has provided the alternative that the fearful need to avoid human contact. In China, Internet use has nearly
doubled since the beginning of the SARS problem (and a doubling of China's Internet use is a very bid thin indeed). And online commerce there has
risen by a staggering 60 percent, the largest single-year jump in online commerce anytime, anywhere by at lest threefold.
Is this the beginning of a society similar to Isaac Asimov's prophetic novel, "The Naked Sun"? For those unfamiliar with the story, the planet
Solaria is populated by humans who never actually encounter each other because of a deep cultural fear of physical contact. A complex planet-wide
network provides plenty of virtual interaction. The increasing complexity of digital technologies, and its pervasiveness across all aspects of our
lives, provides access to services and people that all but eliminate the need to leave the home.
Where do we go from here?