The Information Age
By The Editors
The Information Age is the era shaped by information and communication technologies—and therefore by information-based industries. It started in the mid-1970s in association with the Digital Revolution, and partially overlaps with the Space Age, which started in the late 1950s with the launch of the world’s first artificial satellite. The Information age has been characterized by widespread optimism about the ability of technology to solve most of the world’s challenges—for example food security, environmental degradation, economic growth and social inclusion. However, we now know that technology, by itself, cannot provide solutions to these challenges.
One of the recognized fathers of the Information Age is the scientist Norbert Wiener, the inventor of ”cybernetics”. He was fascinated by the possibility of capturing human behavior through mathematical description, and defined cybernetics as the science of “control and communication in the animal and the machine”. The prefix “cyber” is now widely used for about everything—from sex to art—and is generally associated with virtual reality. However, cybernetics studies the feedback mechanisms that allow information to self-regulate a system, from biological mechanisms to artificial ones. Although Norbert Weiner failed to predict the computer revolution, he was one of the first theorists to identify information as a common language shared by living organisms and machines—a shared language capable of crossing the boundaries between them.