Computer technology: greater impact on America since the industrial revolution. Stan Goldberg.
We are moving from the era of the industrial revolution into a wholly new and different time that will be called "the technological revolution." This is solidly represented by the dazzling array of goods, services, jobs, and other economic factors of computer technology. As a result, we are at once reminded of the past, present, and future of this nation's people.
The industrial revolution touched virtually every segment of our society--rich and poor, male and female, captains of industry and workers alike. If there is anything to be learned from history, we must learn the lessons of change that come with changing technology and its impact on such a broad and diverse number of people, places, and things. Those of us in the computer industry will, hopefully, look at where we have been even as we look where we are going. We must not again ignore the lessons of history.
We have a dramatic path before us between now and 2000. By 1990, for instance, there will be 30 million jobs that are computer related. And our world is rapidly heading for a cashless, checkless society.
The very real, very immediate future holds changes that are hard to imagine for all but the most dedicated computerphile. And it is the fact of these changes and some of the technology induced effects that will impact the uninitiated and uneducated the hardest that must receive our immediate attention.
Our society doesn't make guarantees. The American dream says that everyone should have the opportunity to succeed. One's place in that dream is largely determined by economics, life-style, education, and so forth. Therein lie the differences. If we are to keep the American dream alive, one of the highest priorities we must quickly address is the potential problem of computer illiteracy. We could see an entire class of "new disadvantaged" through such illiteracy. Computer Literacy
Computers will have a permanent and enduring effect on our country and her people. This impact will be most profound on the poor. This new computer society can be good or it can be bad. The outcome of the revolution will be enforced with economics, and economics will be largely controlled by the computer.
One of the main things that we in the industry must address is the establishment of national standards of computer literacy. The computer illiterate faces a future as bleak as the futures of those who cannot read or write.
In 12,000 higher economic school districts recently surveyed, 76% had computers. This is, sadly, not the percentage found across the board. It is my firm belief and commitment that we in the private sector must take up the standard and help bridge the gap.
In the software industry we have a unique opportunity to reach the nation's youth as never before. The computer is a vehicle which can be used to excite the learner, motivate him, and direct him toward new, positive experiences.
Here at MicroLab we have achieved a certain degree of financial success. Now is the time for us to pay back the society that has given us so much. The Inner City
We have an on-going pilot program with the Chicago Public School System to bus youngsters from the inner city to our offices for a six-month program of advanced computer training. We have found motivated high school students and have shared our knowledge with them. Five people on our staff are working part-time with this project.
When this pilot program matures, it is our hope that other companies and school districts will take up the cause and help keep it moving forward. This is something that all of us in our industry could do to help the communities in which we live.
We started with high school age kids. We started with kids from the inner city. If these young people are not exposed to successful role models, if they have no far horizons calling, they will keep the status quo. We must not allow that to happen.
We must give them those "far horizons" to look at; how can they strive if they don't know what is available?
It is this type of cooperation between the public and private sectors that will help shape the direction of our country and its growth. We are changing from an industrial to an intellectual society. Planning Ahead
Retraining is one of the highest costs that our industries face over the next quarter of a century. If we train in the schools now, we will reduce the cost of retraining later, both in time and dollars.
As concerned citizens, we should try to see that our communities understand the challenge ahead and see that our schools and educators are on the same wavelength.
While transition offers challenge, it also offers a marvelous opportunity to restructure our companies along more efficient lines, compatible with the information revolution. It is important for us to position ourselves as effective users of the information machines: to develop information and not just program on them. We must teach all of our citizens to be part of this process as the computer becomes the basic resource of our society. The Role of Women
Within this education process, a different problem is also evolving, and that relates to our work force. Women are our most underdeveloped resource. Of today's computer users 95% are men. We must take steps now to include women in the process as full and equal partners.
This industry is in its ascendancy today; tomorrow it will be the main game in town. This industry must include women in the planning and execution of these long-range efforts. Ten years ago, 50% of families included women who were working outside the home. Today, that figure has jumped to 70%. We must take steps to see that women share in the fruits of the computer revolution.
When this country faced its last major revolution, the industrial revolution, the mood of the times placed women in secondary economic positions, and, as that revolution developed, in secondary economic roles. With this new revolution it is time to see that our citizens, both male and female, both rich and poor, are given an equal opportunity to succeed economically in our society. We must strive to see that computer education is not just for the advantaged and is not just for the male. The course of the next hundred years is being charted now, and I hope that all of us have the vision to help shape the society that will truly deliver on the American dream.
Today it is easy for us to see that computer technology will be firmly entrenched in our future. Ten years ago, when David Ahl started Creative Computing, few, if any, of us had that vision. But David did, and for his foresight, we are all grateful. For myself, for all of us at MicroLab, I would like to extend congratulations and best wishes to David Ahl and the staff of Creative Computing on this achievement. We are all the richer for having the benefit to their faith and dedication to this industry.