INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND
THE SECOND INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION **
By Engr. K. Vijayachandran F.I.E
Developments in computer, communication and satellite technologies have revolutionized processing and transmission of information: These have given birth to Information Technology or IT.
Electronic chip has ushered in a Second Industrial revolution, the first one was triggered by steam engine that led to the extensive use of energy in processing and transportation of materials.
The two revolutions, one after the other, within a span two centuries, are shaping up the destiny of Man, in a big way.
They are preparing Him for a leap forward vis a vis His relationship with the Universe he has come to occupy. There are similarities and parallels in the two revolutions.
The first industrial revolution enhanced the material or physical productivity of Man with machines supplementing His hands.
The second revolution has already enhanced His intellectual productivity several fold, with huge information processing machines or super computers supplementing His brain.
The first one socialized material production on a large scale and led to the forced creation of a global market and a global production system; the second revolution is rapidly socializing and globalizing intellectual production.
Super computers operating as public utilites and providing information power to households and workplaces in every town is a near term possibility.
Computer networks and information highways are shaping up as parallels and a challenge to the energy and transportation systems, built across nations and continents.
Extensive use of machines in material production had offered an unprecedented era of plenty and leisure as well as cultural and spiritual advancement.
But there were constraints and these continue; They are of social origin and emanates from the backwardness of production relations.
IT power is further revolutionizing every sphere of material production
to make it less and less demanding on nature and environment.
Need for processing of energy and materials is coming down rapidly
thanks to enhanced intellectual inputs.
IT’s impact on every creative endeavor art, science or technology is
Bulk of recent investments made in global economy is thus on IT
and not in steel plants, aluminum smelters or machine building plants.
Profit leverage of IT investments being large, Bill Gates & Co reap
This was the case with the first industrial revolution as well: super profits on machines conquered the world and created empires with no sunsets.
Indebted nations surrendered to the power of cannons as elites
betrayed their own people.
Liberation was a proletarian task and was short-lived.
IT has opened a new era of intellectual sophistry of liberals who draw sustenance from nuclear blackmail: history has ended, consensus has yielded to competition, planning to market, human bondage to cash incentives and
the promises of a brave new world to crass technological pessimism.
Should IT turn humans into robots and automats and debase Man at a turning point of His evolution into Superman?
That is a moral question and not one of economic efficiency. Capital and profits can not, for long, dictate the course of second industrial
Man is in pursuit of, not the end of his own history.
He is in pursuit of something dear and near to his inner self, probably
the Paradise Lost?
John Milton to Bernard Shaw?
Karel Capek and Asimov?
**Synopsis of the talk, August 24th 1998
Rotary Club, Thiruvananthapuram: Retyped by Vijayasree, my grand daughter on 31-04-2015