Technology is having a profound impact on the world we inhabit and the ways we conduct our lives, but even the most dramatic changes may seem incremental to those of us who are knee-deep in it. That’s why we decided to create this special issue of CIO.
We invited leading thinkers from many walks of life to share their thoughts about how technology is affecting health care, financial markets, war, exploration, kids, education, employment trends, civil liberties, religion, sports and more. The essays that follow convey a sense of hope and illuminate the frontiers of far-reaching change. They also pose questions that I hope all technologists will take to heart.
Is technology-driven progress good? Do we have a choice to pursue it, or does change have its own built-in inevitability? Can it be controlled (or as Ray Kurzweil puts it in his essay beginning on Page 22, "relinquished") completely or even selectively? Should we attempt to halt certain developments because the risks are too great, as might be argued with bioengineering or nanotechnology, or simply because they make life less enjoyable, as Ben Crenshaw argues (on Page 46) that golf technology has already done?
Directly or indirectly, CIOs have a part to play in making many of these changes happen, yet they rarely have an opportunity to step back and consider the long-term effects of their decisions and actions. The reality of work is such that we focus primarily and most intensely on our own piece of the puzzle—our assignments, our department’s goals, the business’s mission, the trends in our industry—and not much more.
With this issue, we invite you to pause and reflect on the broader implications of the work you do. And we invite you to share your thoughts with us and with each other at www.cio.com/impact2003.