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While the churn is on within the technology corporations, how has the consumer evolved, in the barrage of new technology? Just look at the possibilities before us today – something we would not have possibly imagined even at the turn of the millennium:We do not receive physical salary checks anymore; we can see on our computers if our salary has been credited to our bank account. Between several hundred employees, over a year, surely a tree must have been saved.For the first time this year, the sale of digital cameras will overtake that of film cameras in the US. An entire middleman – the film developer will be soon extinct.CD-ROMs for 18-month olds are now in the market. My 19-month old daughter loves to bang away on the keyboard, and hear the sounds, chase the objects on screen.Many of us have received, as a personalized mailer, a dummy cover of The Economist with our names on it. It gave us such a kick that we pinned it up on our softboards.We are questioning our family physician or even specialist about the course of treatment on our second visit, having done some extensive research about the diagnosed ailment on the web.In many markets, including here in India, we don’t have to physically buy an air ticket. We can print the boarding pass, with a barcode, choose our seats, pay through our credit card, and simply check in. It saves us time, and the aggravation of a queue and traffic. We will be able to do the same for trains in India before this year is over.Our initial fears of giving away our credit card number on an e-commerce site have all but disappeared.
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The role of science and technology in future design will be discussed from the perspective of someone who has lived all his life in the United States and whose scientific experience has spanned the years since the late 1930s. It is likely that the reader will find in my discussion characteristics that apply to many developed countries and developing ones. Inasmuch as scientific progress is highly dependent on financial support and, in modern times, on general societal support, it is appropriate to discuss the interaction of science and society. Using the United States as an example, some of the topics to be discussed are the views of public officials who influence the distribution of research funds, the response of funding agencies and the views of scientists. Finally, we shall look at the co-evolution of science and society and attempt to draw some conclusions concerning their related future and the implications for the future of technology.
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