Danger and Hope in the Information Age

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Danger and Hope in the Information Age Where can we find hope in today’s information age? To answer this question satisfactorily one must be clear as to its presupposition. To find hope in the information society means that there appears to be something wrong with it, so that one needs to search for hope in such a society. In this paper I would like to outline some of the perils of today's information society and to point out that, though the perils are real and very strong, we nonetheless can overcome them through concerted action which I shall outline in the sections to follow. In short, I would like to show that there is a realistic, practicable hope in today’s information society, but such a hope can never come into fruit without effort. Hope does not come through a total negation of the technology, nor does it come through a blind adherence to it. Rather realistic hope can obtain only through concerted effort to understand the implications and impact of the technology. As for the cultures of the Third Word, where the potential dangers of the technology appear grave, hope can come through strengthening of local resources and searches for ways to co-opt the technology and to adapt it into the cultures’ particular life-world. Human society is increasingly characterized by an increasingly pervasive use of technologies, notably among which are the information and communication technologies (ICT’s). Today in Bangkok one could hardly fail to be giant billboards exhorting commuters to log on the Internet and visit one web site or another. Name cards increasingly carry email addresses as well as personal web sites. In Thailand, new Internet cafés spring up everyday like mushrooms in rainy season. Nowadays it is estimated that there are around four million people on the Internet in the country, up from just one or two million just a few months ago. These events and numbers are just superficial indicators of a deep change that is going on throughout the world. Technologies are obviously becoming more and more important, or at least they are becoming ubiquitous. Since there is no time in human history that this kind of profound pervasiveness of technologies, especially those connected with information and communication, occurs, human beings need to reflect and think hard about what kind of life, what kind of society we as a species are creating. This thinking calls for a bold vision and an imaginative construction of possible scenarios more than ever before, since the situation we are facing is totally new and we cannot rely solely on lessons of the past. We cannot just compare the current situation to a historical event in order to

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