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The Information Age

The Information Age began in the year 2000.  First, in human history we had the “Hunter-Gatherer Age” which continued for hundreds of thousands of years until about 10,000 years ago when the “Agriculture Age” began.  That was followed by the “Industrial Age” beginning about 200 years ago.  So far, I am under-whelmed by the “Information Age”.  When I analyze it, that is not surprising because we can’t eat it, live in it, wear it or ride it.  Those are the basic human needs.  Each of the previous ages filled our basic human needs many times better than before. The Industrial Age increased our human productivity and therefore our prosperity and welfare by 19 times.  By comparison, the Information Age produced personal computers, smart phones and the internet which were supposed to increase human productivity, but hasn’t.

It’s gone down, not up.  From world War II to 2000, human productivity increased about 2.2 percent per year.  During earlier periods of the Industrial Age, it was even greater.  Since 2000, productivity growth has been about 0.5 percent.  When you see workers spending so much work time on their smart phones and laptops, it’s obvious they’re playing, not working.

The internet was supposed to create trust and understanding between people of different cultures, languages and religions around the world by creating easy communication.  It hasn’t.  Groups who have hated and fought each other for centuries still do.  China has forced millions of Muslim citizens into internment camps for re-education.

Cyber theft is rampant and the police are unable to control it.  Cyber spying as used by China, Russia and police states such as North Korea, is a serious threat to our county’s security.  The possibility of cyber warfare is serious.

The internet was supposed to free citizens in police states, such as China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and Cuba.  Instead, those police states have learned to use the internet to spy on and control their citizens even more than previously.

Online education was supposed to reduce higher education cost and make it available to all.  University staff have opposed it and it’s only available from a few universities.  That’s a shame because it has great potential to reduce higher education cost and make it more available.

Online medical care has great potential to reduce costs and improve availability.  The medical industry has not yet adopted it and the potential benefit is being wasted.

The internet and social media produce a flood of information, but there’s no editing to ensure its accuracy and reliability.  Newspaper editors used to serve that purpose.  No more.

Virtual reality TV and violent smart phone video games have produced a generation that doesn’t understand reality.  They don’t realize that in the real world, violence produces human death and injury.

The internet and social media have not produced better educated citizens, but it has enabled citizens to demand to be heard.  The result is radical special interest groups that use IT to force their will on the majority.

Online higher education and training and online medicine have great potential to improve our worker productivity and fill our basic human needs better.  Unfortunately, that potential has been overlooked and ignored while we emphasize the trivial and fluff of the information age.

Author:  Ralph Coker

Bio:  Ralph Coker is a retired petroleum refinery plant manager.  He writes on business, economic, military and political topics