Computers Reshaping Society


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Computers Reshaping Society


The emergence of computers in our society as a means of the gathering and processing of information for the sorting of it has played a major role in reshaping the society it exists in. After the introduction of computers as a business, and later personal, tool, and the large-scale assimilation of such for both purposes, the computer proceeded to shape our society by its own “needs”. This reshaping took the form suiting all business and personal life of humans around the elementary component of the computer -- information. Information has become the one most important entity in our lives, far more important than most other needs, thanks to the efforts of gathering and organizing the vast amount of information that was brought about by the introduction of computers. The next obvious issue is privacy. Privacy is by definition the withholding of certain information which is of some importance to the group or individual exercising this right. It has now become however an active battle with the computers seeking to organize and index all aspects of our life, while we cling to the last bits of this information, to privacy, to the frontier of battle over information. It is not surprising that privacy has become the central issue in today’s “digital age”. The following is an excerpt from the US government report “Cryptography’s Role in Securing the Information Society” by the National Research Council.

Today's information age requires U.S. businesses to compete
on a worldwide basis, sharing sensitive information with
appropriate parties while protecting that information against
competitors, vandals, suppliers, customers, and foreign
governments. Private law-abiding citizens dislike
the ease with which personal telephone calls can be tapped,
especially those carried on cellular or cordless telephones.
Elements of the U.S. civilian infrastructure such as the
banking system, the electric power grid, the public switched
telecommunications network, and the air traffic control system
are central to so many dimensions of modern life that
protecting these elements must have a high priority. The
federal government has an important stake in assuring that its
important and sensitive political, economic, law enforcement,
and military information, both classified and unclassified, is
protected from foreign governments or other parties whose
interests are hostile to those of the United States.

As you can see, the federal government is showing great concern over the misuse of information which it hopes to try to protect by enforcing stricter guidelines on the respect of privacy (by methods of encryption). This is a clear reflection of the cultural mindset that was developed by the presence of computers.

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Groilers Encyclopedia under “Computers and Privacy” provides an account of the story of the emergence of this information oriented leap, and the protective “privacy” trend that seems to emerge. It states that “computer systems not only increased significantly the ability of organizations to collect, store, process, and disseminate information but also decreased significantly the cost and time required to do so.” Thus the “digital revolution” began, amassing more and more need for data, while the people clung to the ideas of privacy to protect the little “secret” data they had left.

As computers progress, the privacy issues and problems become larger and more complicated. Therefore privacy is looked upon not as an axiom, but as a dear right that is not to be given up easily. Our culture’s attitude toward privacy becomes very defined, as a positive and necessary thing, a large change from many earlier opinions. Traditionally humans tended to share their problems and worries with others (friends, family, religious officials), to help them alleviate some of the psychological burdens, but now the attitude has changed greatly to focus on keeping as much as possible private, and not sharing with others.


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