The Information Wave of Civilization

The Information Wave of Civilization

Andrew Targowski (Haworth College of Business, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 34
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-004-2.ch009

Abstract

This chapter will attempt to analyze the cumulative evolution of labor, intellect (information & knowledge), and politics. In pursuit of this aim, it will analyze the role of information throughout civilization history. Whereas historians reveal the myriad dimensions of social order that remained uncontrollable in the past, modern analysts consciously initiate designs that are not a product of chance—but do so in webs of dispute, ambivalence, and fuzziness of language. There are questions concerning the relevance of history (Henry Ford’s famous aphorism was that history is “bunk”) and the objectivity of information (to the postmodernist philosophers, there is no such thing). These cast doubt on the use of historical data for predicting the future, and also suggest its limitations. In this section, we shall analyze the architectural relationships between intellect, politics, and labor in a historical context, in order to understand the relationships, rules, and eventually laws that govern civilization development. Through such a structural understanding of the past, it may be possible to better predict the future of civilization. Even though this may not be optimal, it is at the very least a satisfactory place and role for historians and our institutions. The architectural approach to a history of civilization is a new layer over quantitative history based on statistical data. In an architectural history of civilization, we seek a “big picture” of “civilization ages and revolutions” to develop some criteria-oriented views of the world and its future predictability. To understand how crises and conflicts of civilization have been driven by technology in recent centuries, such analysis must be undertaken with some optimism about human proactive adaptation, survival, and development. This approach to civilization development should allow humans eventually to “reinvent the future” in a continuous manner. In due course, we should be able to predict the “rate of change” and provide “civilization-bridging solutions” based on original thinking. In the last several centuries, civilization has been driven by its infrastructures (such as bureaucracy, electrical power, vehicle engines). Therefore, we shall look more at the role of information infrastructure, which secures the vitality of the information ecology. The information ecology (environment) is a holistic, human-centered management of information to control development and operations of info-materiel-energy-oriented processes. The first who applied this term are Bruce W. Hasenyager (1996) and Thomas H. Davenport (1997), who emphasize people over machines in the role of handling information.
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Information And Civilization History

The history of our Universe has evolved through 13.5 billion years from its beginning. About 4.6 billion years ago, the Earth was formed and shortly afterward started to cool. About 3.8 to 3.5 billion years ago, surface conditions allowed the permanent establishment of life on this planet. The earliest possible signs of life date to roughly 3.85 billion years ago, but establishment are usually held to be marked by the coming of the stromatolites, structures of rock and algae still found in such odd places as Hamelin Pool on the western coast of Australia. Hominids had diverged from apes some ten to six million years ago (instinct-driven information-communication); the first humans (two-legged, with large brain and tools and sound-driven information-communication), took form around 6-2.5 million years ago in Southeast Africa. Homo verbalis, who used language, appeared about 60,000 years ago. This time can mark the beginning of first information-communication systems.

Physicists are obsessed with finding the complete theory of everything, explaining how, why, and where the world was developed (in fact limiting “everything” to the unification of the two present basic approaches to physics, quantum mechanics and general relativity), and information specialists should contribute to this quest too. If not, the complete theory will remain incomplete. Hawking (1988) has accused philosophers of not keeping up with the advance of scientific theories. The same accusation is true for physicists who limit their complete theory to energy only because energy itself is steered by communication and information (however, their true nature is still a puzzle) and vice-versa.

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