As Alvin Toffler predicted almost 30 years ago, society is transitioning from its second wave, the industrial revolution, to the third wave, the information age. All three waves, beginning with the agrarian age, offered their own elements of control that proved vital to prevailing economically and politically. In the first wave, the objective in the agrarian society was to control the land from which life-giving food would be harvested. In the industrial second wave, the objective was to control the means of production. Now, in the information age, the objective is to control the information technology.
The People's Republic of China is grappling with an inherent conflict of relying on imported avionics technology while pressing to develop a state-of-the-art domestic manufacturing base. The country continues its long-term commitment to advanced avionics research and development both for internal use and for export, and foreign technology is one source feeding that endeavor.
Israel is developing a laser-guided antitank/antihelicopter missile that will be fired out of tank guns instead of from missile launchers. In its antihelicopter role, the missile would enable tanks to defend themselves against fast-moving helicopters that can fire antitank missiles from beyond the effective range of conventional tank gun projectiles or onboard machine guns.
The rapid advancement of technology is causing continuous change in academic institutions tasked with preparing the work force of the next century. An incessant and increasing need for technically proficient personnel has placed a burden on institutions of higher education, demanding that they produce employees who can handle information technology systems that now permeate virtually every aspect of the business world.
A series of desktop central processing units combines the attributes of workstations and personal computers into a single platform. The new hardware can bring detailed imagery and graphics manipulation into the hands of more users throughout government and the military at prices comparable to those of mid-level personal computers.
You could forgive Bob Beyster for looking on his company with dollar signs in his eyes. After all, the chief executive officer of a nearly $5 billion global technology empire expects it to double in size again in the next five years.
The information technology industry is increasingly directing its efforts to commercial security requirements and less so to those of government. The result is that the private sector is overtaking its government counterpart in maintaining computer network security.
Protecting electronic commerce on the Internet is a very secretive and unforgiving business. Robust security, however, is pivotal to its phenomenal expansion as networks surge toward a $200 billion market within the next two years. This demand for vigorous network refuge is creating a $6 billion worldwide security industry market, growing at a rate of more than 50 percent a year.
The Internal Revenue Service is adopting a mission-oriented approach to designing its new agencywide information infrastructure. Instead of focusing on information technology, the modernized system will be business-centered to ensure that it directly addresses the agency's requirement to manage mountains of data while collecting over $1 trillion in annual tax revenues.
Federal agencies with specialized image archival requirements are meeting their storage and retrieval needs by maximizing the capabilities of software first used by Hollywood's entertainment industry. Government organizations with large image databases can use this software, which employs innovative search techniques, to help analysts sift through incalculable amounts of digital information. The software eliminates typical problems involved in tracking important reference material and can assist agencies by also housing information gathered from analysis of image files.
Organizations that rely on large amounts of data are increasingly employing data cleansing techniques to ensure accuracy and efficiency by scrubbing data that has been polluted at the source or on its way to a data warehouse.
Data visualization, where information is displayed in recognizable graphic elements, increasingly is moving into mainstream applications as a remedy for information overload. As computer users find growing amounts of gigabytes at their fingertips, system engineers are returning display perspectives to everyday three-dimensional visages that are comprehended faster and more readily.
Highly refined signal filters will open new vistas in applications ranging from complex intelligence gathering to cellular telephony. The advances emerge from high-temperature superconducting materials incorporated into semiconductor chips. Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have moved some aspects of this technology to the private sector for production and commercialization.