The background for the revolution in information technology is discussed,along with its possible consequences. In contrast to the industrial revolution, which evolved over a period of 2 centuries, the technology spawning the information revolution has developed so rapidly and spread worldwide so quickly that the resulting rate of change is straining all economic and social relationships. Because of this rapid change, the history of the industrial revolution is not a valid guide for forecasting further developments and outcomes of the information revolution. While information technology is rendering capital-intensive manufacturing industries obsolete and leaving many workers unemployed and unemployable, it offers the opportunity for higher-quality production, increased personal creativity, and expanded individual freedom. In addition, information technology could bring about significant increases in productivity as complex and time-consuming human functions are automated, possibly allowing US economic renewal.
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