While doing some research online, I came across an interesting Google result. Several steps into my Goggling I saw the title: STUDY SAYS TECHNOLOGY COULD TRANSFORM SOCIETY… But the interesting part was the date: June 14, 1982. Who would not have clicked on that one? I found it to be an archived article on the New York Times website about a study commissioned by the National Science Foundation and issued by the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, CA.
With this week’s 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas going on, it was quite interesting to see what the concerns for technology were when I was a mere lad of 21. Most of the article was on the new technology of Videotex. Videotex was an end-user information system where pages of text could be displayed on your television through a modem and could be interactive. By very broad definition, this was a precursor to the Internet that never got too far off the ground.
The report saw the use of these videotex devices as “at once appealing and threatening, of a style of life defined and controlled by videotex terminals throughout the house.” The report warned of privacy issues and “blurring the lines between home and work.” It also discussed the new profession of “information brokers” and home-based shopping with “production on demand.”
The study suggested the possible end of the two-party system with greater diversity in American politics. While there remains a two-party system, social network allows for, as the report suggested, “networks of voters band together to support a variety of slates – maybe hundreds of them.”
The CES should offer some great technology to scare and delight futurists. As more cars go online are we going to blur the lines between work, home, and now the car? Are the goals of an automated home from the 50’s going to be realized with today’s home integration systems?
While shows like Star Trek give a glimpse of what writers thought the future would be like, this article (and the report it is based on) gives some insight in what scientists were thinking at the dawn of the computer age.
Below is a link to the NY Times article. While a little more searching found the actual report available, ironically it was not available in electronic form.