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October 27, 1995

INTERNET WILL WREAK HAVOC ON THE WORLD, DOOMSTERS SAY

By CBR Staff Writer

The multimedia revolution epitomised by the Internet and led by the telecommunications industry is more likely to wreck than improve your life, and could one day drag the world into total anarchy, according to some observers. Delegates at the International Institute of Communications’ annual conference in Osaka, Japan last month warned of the social nightmare that could be on the multimedia horizon, Reuters reports. The telecommunications revolution is all about control and power, Delbert Smith, an American lawyer, told delegates. Hell is a loss of privacy, and nothing brings us closer to hell than telecommunications technology. We will all end up consumers with no privacy in a technological world with no protections, he said. In a debate at the end of the three-day conference, specialists from 23 countries overturned a motion insisting the telecommunications revolution would usher in an era of heaven on earth. Instead, they decided that while it would improve access to information, it would also probably destroy jobs, isolate women, eliminate time for quiet contemplation, and possibly end in complete anarchy. Chosei Kabira, professor of international communications at Showa Women’s University in Tokyo, said he was sceptical about the bruited Information SuperHighway. There are many rosy descriptions prophesied on future life with new communication technology, he said. But (they) are so promising that I cannot help but be suspicious. John Eger, communications and public policy professor at San Diego State University said there was nothing inherently wrong with new technology but that mankind had misused it for centuries and would probably continue to do so. The first response is that new technologies are simply tools, and whether they help or harm society depends on the wisdom of those who use them. But in the eyes of the resistance (to technology) this is the fundamental error. Technology… is never neutral, he said. Referring to the divide between rich and poor and to troubles in Ireland, Canada, Nigeria and other religious, linguistic and tribal conflicts, Eger said they had been started – and fuelled to some extent – by the spread of telecommunications, which lends itself to sensationalism and propaganda. Is this what technology gave birth to? Is this the potential reversal we will witness in the wake of the communications revolution? he asked.

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