Virtual Age: Next Wave of Change in Society

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The 2009 International Joint Conferences on e-CASE and e-Technology, January 8-10, 2009 Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore

Virtual Age: Next Wave of Change in Society
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Ali A. Jalali a and Hamid Mahmoodi b Department of Electrical Engineering, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran b School of Engineering, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA drjalali@gmail.com, mahmoodi@sfsu.edu ABSTRACT

The Virtual Age is the ultimate progress of information technology and knowledgebased environments into a three-dimensional virtual world. We firmly believe that the enormous expansion of the information age by leaps and bounds along with the availability of the required tools and technologies, will bring about a fourth wave of change in the near future. There have been three waves of change in the history of human progress, namely, the Agricultural Age, the Industrial Age, and the Information Age. The fourth wave of change or the Virtual Age will create a new era in which most aspects of every day life and world affairs will become virtual. Virtual Age is an umbrella which empowers anywhere, anytime, anyone interactions defying the existing time and space limitations we encounter today. The possibilities are endless, for instance; virtual commerce, virtual banking, virtual learning, virtual government, virtual work office, virtual corporations, and so on. Much higher speed CPU’s, high speed transmission media (larger bandwidths), huge capacities of memory and sophisticated real-time virtual reality software are needed to power us into the Virtual Age. At the present rate of progress, it is projected that hardware and software limitations will be overcome within about two decades allowing the coming of the Virtual Age. Keyword: Virtual Age, Information Technology, Internet, Fourth Wave, Virtual World 1. Introduction Albert Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. Significant developments in the world would not have been possible without the imagination and forward thinking of great scientists, engineers, inventors and writers of science fiction. For instance, two centuries ago no one could have imagined a human society in which cars, trains and airplanes would be normal modes of transportation, or information would be disseminated instantly throughout the world via radio, television, satellites and the internet. These inventions have brought about a significantly enhanced standard of living and had made enormous changes in social, economic, cultural, and political fabric of various societies. By the same token, many people, including some scientists cannot imagine how drastically advanced the future world will be as compared to today’s society.

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The 2009 International Joint Conferences on e-CASE and e-Technology, January 8-10, 2009 Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore

Figure 1: Waves of change in human history According to the well known futurist Alvin Toffler [1], the first wave of transformation was the Age of Agriculture, see Figure 1. Tim Jordan et. al, describes this transition and the impact on human society as follows [2]: “Its significance was that people moved away from nomadic wandering and hunting and began to cluster into villages and develop cultures. The second wave was an expression of machine muscle, the Industrial Revolution that noticeably began in the 18th century. People began to leave the peasant culture of farming to come to work in city factories. Just as the machine seemed at its most invincible, however, we began to receive intimations of a gathering third wave, based not on muscle but on mind. It is what we variously call the information or the knowledge age, and it is powerfully driven by information technology”. It is projected that, expansion of the information age by leaps and bounds along with the availability of the required tools and technologies, will bring about a fourth wave of change,...
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