The Information Revolution

Interpersonal Computing will undermine the Nation State just as it's predecessor, gunpowder, broke the back of the Feudal State. Guns were "the great equalizer". They neutralized a massive investment in armour and blades that had made Lords into untouchable gods. Evolution from Feudalism and internecine warfare to the Nation State and total war was the inevitable result of this devolution of power to the masses.

Our conceptual world order based on the Nation State is about to undergo a similar crisis. Information flow is ultimately uncontrollable and unregulatable. Whatever computing power the State can muster, individuals can overcome by interconnection. State initiated blockages will be short lived. The accelerating rate of technological advance added to the innate desire of individuals to communicate freely will overwhelm any such effort ... just as a slow moving jungle animal is overwhelmed by swarming ants.

What purpose will remain to a Nation State in a world where physical location has no relevance to where one's job is? Where on-the-scene information from personal trusted sources immediately uncovers lies and attempts to mold public opinion? Where technical information and plans spread around the world at the speed of light? Where knowledge is infinitely reproduceable at little or no cost and may be given to all and yet kept for oneself? Where secure codes and sheer volume foil invasion of privacy even by superpowers? Where the concept of an organization with active membership limited by lines on a map rather than communications lines seems quaint and old fashioned? Where cultural affiliation and peer group are network rather than land related?

The answer is no more apparent now than it would have been to the first peasants with muskets. About all we can say is that the Nation State will survive only as a fiction, just as royalty survived its' debacle as an image without substance.

Let us hope it will be a freer, safer world. A world of diverse individuals peacefully co-operating and competing with one another for personal and general benefit. We can pray that in that not so far off day flags, political maps and patriotic songs will be curiosities to be found only in museums. It would be fitting to juxtapose them with the medieval weaponry.

                                                D. Amon 12-Dec-91