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A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology by Vincent F. Hendricks, Stig Andur Pedersen, Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis

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IT in the Information Society

What we call “the information society” has been brought about by the fastest-growing technology in history. No previous generation has ever been exposed to such an extraordinary acceleration of technological power and corresponding social changes. Total pervasiveness and high power have raised IT to the status of the characteristic technology of our time, both rhetorically and iconographically. No wonder that the computer, the quintessential IT product, has become a symbol of the new millennium, playing a cultural role comparable to that of mills in the Middle Ages, mechanical clocks in the seventeenth century, and the loom or the steam engine in the age of the industrial revolution (Ifrah 2001). The computer as the information machine is a defining technology.

The most developed post-industrial societies now literally live by information, and IT is what keeps them constantly oxygenated. Information has matured into an asset of growing value, with marketable quantities and prices. It is the new digital gold and represents one of the most valuable resources. Such modifications in the growth, the fruition and the management of information resources and services concern four main IT sectors: computation, automatic control, modeling, and information management. This sequence follows a conceptual order and only partially overlaps through time.

“Computation” seems to be a sufficiently intuitive concept, but as soon as one tries to provide a clear and fully ...

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