The Global Course of the Information Revolution

The Global Course of the Information Revolution: Recurring Themes and Regional Variations

Richard O. Hundley
Robert H. Anderson
Tora K. Bikson
C. Richard Neu
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 218
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1680nic
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  • Book Info
    The Global Course of the Information Revolution
    Book Description:

    Advances in information technology are heavily influencing ways in which business, society, and government work and function throughout the globe, bringing many changes to everyday life, in a process commonly termed the "information revolution." This book paints a picture of the state of the information revolution today and how it will likely progress in the near- to mid-term future (10 to 15 years), focusing separately on different regions of the world-North America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3602-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xviii)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. xix-xx)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  6. SUMMARY
    (pp. xxiii-xl)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xli-xlii)
  8. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xliii-xliv)
  9. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-8)

    Advances in information technology (IT) are affecting most segments of business, society, and government in many if not most regions of the world. The changes that IT is bringing about in various aspects of life are often collectively called the “information revolution.”¹ Many of these changes could over time prove to be profound; some may have already done so. A wide range of national and international political, economic, and societal issues arise from these changes, both now and in the future.

    Understanding the various impacts that advances in IT will have and the likely nature of future changes that IT...

  10. PART I. RECURRING THEMES
    • Chapter Two NEW TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS WILL CONTINUALLY DRIVE THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION
      (pp. 11-24)

      It is clear that many current information technology trends will continue, at least over the next 15 to 20 years: computing will get faster and cheaper; communication bandwidth will increase; interesting new products (beyond cell phones and handheld personal information managers, or perhaps a merging of the two) will emerge—and so on. And yet, many previous attempts to forecast future technology developments have been woefully lacking, if not just plain wrong. Perhaps more importantly, it is difficult to predict the adoption and widespread use of various IT-enabled products and services, especially when their success depends on a critical mass...

    • Chapter Three THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION IS ENABLING NEW BUSINESS MODELS THAT ARE TRANSFORMING THE BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL WORLDS
      (pp. 25-34)

      The information revolution is enabling a variety of new business models that over the course of time are transforming the business and financial worlds.

      Advances in IT are enabling a wide variety of new business models, for the internal organization and functioning of business enterprises and for their external interactions with customers, suppliers, and competitors. These models come in many different forms. Typical features include the following:¹

      A much greater focus on the customer, becoming the dominant factor in business today, and on competition, fundamental to the development and progress of a business enterprise.²

      Competition dynamics that are often nonlinear,...

    • Chapter Four THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION IS AFFECTING MECHANISMS OF GOVERNANCE AND EMPOWERING NEW POLITICAL ACTORS
      (pp. 35-44)

      The information age is reconfiguring some processes of governance, as well as changing both the character and distribution of political power.

      Some traditional mechanisms of governance (e.g., taxation, regulation and licensing) are becoming increasingly problematic, as the information revolution allows action beyond the reach of national governments. For example:¹

      E-commerce is making transaction taxes (e.g., sales taxes) more difficult to collect. This could over time lead to more reliance on other types of taxes.

      Regulations are often not keeping up with new business models, leading in some cases to unstable excesses, in others hindering the advance of IT-related activities.

      Regulation...

    • Chapter Five THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION BOTH SHAPES AND IS SHAPED BY SOCIAL AND CULTURAL VALUES IN SIGNIFICANT WAYS
      (pp. 45-54)

      Outcomes of the information revolution are sometimes viewed as a product of how market forces on the one hand and government regulatory constraints on the other shape the deployment of technology-driven advance. But social and cultural values should be woven into the equation as well because they influence the course of the information revolution directly, as well as through their effects on both government policy and market activity.¹

      As evidence, note that many advanced democratic societies have access to the same information technologies. Yet they vary substantially in the extent of IT adoption, the nature of its use, and the...

    • Chapter Six MANY FACTORS SHAPE AND CHARACTERIZE A NATION’S APPROACH TO THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION
      (pp. 55-68)

      Many factors shape and characterize a nation’s or region’s approach to the information revolution. Some of these factors arecausative; they are the underlying factors shaping a nation’s or region’s IR posture. Other factors areresultant; they help characterize a nation’s or region’s IR posture, but are effects, not causes. Together these factors distinguish one nation or region from other nations or regions insofar as the information revolution is concerned.¹

      As with much else in life, rich nations are better positioned than poor nations to take advantage of advances in information technology and meet the challenges posed by the information...

  11. PART II. REGIONAL VARIATIONS
    • Chapter Seven NORTH AMERICA WILL CONTINUE IN THE VANGUARD OF THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION
      (pp. 71-76)

      For the foreseeable future, North America (i.e., the United States and Canada)¹ will continue in the vanguard of the information revolution.

      The economies and societies of the United States and Canada are quite favorably positioned to do well in the information age because of the following:²

      They have well-developed physical infrastructures (electricity, telecommunications, etc.), well-educated populations, a ready supply of trained IT professionals, and ready access to exploitable IT technologies.

      Their economies and societies are generally receptive to change, adept at dealing with the consequences of change, and supportive of risk-taking, with deeply rooted entrepreneurial cultures.

      They have generally market-responsive...

    • Chapter Eight THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION IS FOLLOWING A SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT AND MORE DELIBERATE COURSE IN EUROPE
      (pp. 77-84)

      Because of differences in the underlying social, political, and economic climate, the information revolution is following a somewhat different and more deliberate course in Europe than in America, even though the underlying technology is largely the same.¹

      In the technology arena, the European view of the information revolution is similar but not identical to the American view. The Europeans place much more emphasis on wireless technology as enabling mobile gateways to the Internet and as an area where they feel they are currently in the lead.

      This European enthusiasm for wireless has been tempered somewhat by Europeans recent experience with...

    • Chapter Nine MANY ASIA-PACIFIC NATIONS ARE POISED TO DO WELL IN THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION, SOME ARE NOT
      (pp. 85-102)

      How goes the information revolution in the Asia-Pacific region?¹ That question is best answered in two parts: To what extent do Asian countriesuseinformation technology, and to what extent do theyproduceIT hardware and software? Not surprisingly, they vary greatly on both counts, and not all the big users are big producers and vice versa. Figure 9.1 illustrates the latter point—showing (1) the major IT user and producer nations, (2) China and to a lesser extent India (rapidly emerging as important IT users and producers), and (3) other nations that are lagging behind—and provides a reference...

    • Chapter Ten LATIN AMERICA FACES MANY OBSTACLES IN RESPONDING TO THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION: SOME NATIONS WILL RISE TO THE CHALLENGE, OTHERS WILL NOT
      (pp. 103-112)

      Latin America’s prospects in the information revolution are closely linked to its performance in the emerging global economy. Its major difficulties are the same in both cases:¹

      The intrusive role of many Latin American governments in their economies and the often dominating roles of large incumbent, and sometimes protected, local firms

      The sometimes volatile nature of Latin America’s financial connections to the richer countries of the world, especially the United States²

      The need to train and retain skilled people in Latin America.

      In recent years, even decades, Latin America has had problems in all these areas. As a result:

      Latin...

    • Chapter Eleven FEW MIDDLE EASTERN AND NORTH AFRICAN NATIONS WILL FULLY EXPERIENCE THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION, SOME MAY MISS IT ALTOGETHER
      (pp. 113-124)

      The Middle East was once home to the world’s most advanced societies, skilled at mathematics, astronomy, science, and medicine, and renowned for their poetry and arts. This coincided roughly with the maximum extent of the Islamic empire, the remnants of which today—with the exception of Turkey—are lumped together as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as listed in Table 11.1.¹

      Many of these MENA nations—with the prominent exception of Israel—may miss the information revolution entirely, causing this region to fall even farther behind OECD nations.²

      With a few notable exceptions, IT penetration is low (i.e.,...

    • Chapter Twelve MOST COUNTRIES OF SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA WILL FALL FURTHER BEHIND IN THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION
      (pp. 125-132)

      The African continent is extremely diverse, and few blanket statements can be made about information technology and information revolution developments that apply to the continent as a whole. We concentrate here on sub-Saharan Africa, but any statistics or recommendations must take into account the fact that South Africa overwhelms most statistical statements or projections for that region.

      As one example of these disparities, South Africa has roughly half of the continent’s IT infrastructure. North Africa and Nigeria each have about one-sixth, and all the rest of Africa accounts for only one-sixth of the infrastructure.¹ Even excluding South Africa, there are...

  12. PART III. SOME ADDITIONAL TOPICS (A BRIEF LOOK)
    • Chapter Thirteen GEOPOLITICAL TRENDS FURTHERED BY THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION COULD POSE CONTINUING CHALLENGES TO THE UNITED STATES
      (pp. 135-138)

      In this chapter, we take a brief look at these trends—meant merely to introduce the subject to the reader.

      The economies, societies, and polities that will flourish in the information revolution are those most adept at dealing with change.¹ The United States is best positioned (among all nations) to do well in this new world.² Among other things, the information revolution will continue to enhance U.S. soft power.³

      Some nations or societies will fall behind in the information revolution because they are too rigid.⁴ Other nations or societies will fall behind because they lack the necessary physical, human, financial,...

    • Chapter Fourteen WHAT FUTURE EVENTS COULD CHANGE THESE PROJECTIONS?
      (pp. 139-142)

      What future events could change the projections made in this report? Regarding the precise nature of the economic, social, and governmental transformations driven by the information revolution: many things. Regarding the pace of these transformations: many things as well. Regarding the relative performance of various regions of the world: some things. Regarding the degree to which IT ultimately changes the 21st-century world: few if any things.

      The details of the economic, social, and governmental transformations driven by the information revolution that occur in coming years depend on the nature of the new IT-enabled products and services that achieve widespread use...

    • Chapter Fifteen THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION IS PART OF A BROADER TECHNOLOGY REVOLUTION WITH EVEN PROFOUNDER CONSEQUENCES
      (pp. 143-146)

      The information revolution is not the only technology-driven revolution under way in the world today, merely the most advanced. Advances in biotechnology and nanotechnology, and their synergies with IT, should also change the world greatly over the course of the 21st century.¹

      Developments in molecular biology since the discovery of the structure and function of DNA in the 1950s have established the knowledge base necessary to profile, copy, and manipulate plant, animal, and human genomes—the genetic basis for life. This enables a wide variety of powerful biotechnology techniques, including gene therapy, for the diagnosis and treatment of disease; designer...

  13. Appendix PARTICIPANTS IN THE RAND/NIC INFORMATION REVOLUTION CONFERENCES
    (pp. 147-162)
  14. REFERENCES
    (pp. 163-174)