What Will Be: How the New World of Information Will Change Our Lives

In This Review

What Will Be: How the New World of Information Will Change Our Lives

By Michael Dertouzos
HarperEdge, 1997
336 pp. $25.00
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Written for the non-technician by the director of the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science, this book sketches the history of electronic control and communication and describes the current state of play on such futuristic items as telephones that translate to and from foreign languages and "bodynets" that serve all a person's electronic needs for information. The book is informal, even chatty, and fun to read -- reflecting the author's fun in writing it.

While most of the book is devoted to the world immediately around us, there is some discussion of the impact of the Information Age on international relations. The author is persuasive on the ultimate breakdown of international barriers to the flow of information, despite the technical possibilities for barring unrestricted access to the Internet, but unpersuasive on the widening gap between rich and poor. The book is replete with common sense. The author chides both techies, for their exaggerated claims for the future of a world based on electronics, and humanists, for their unwarranted lament over an alleged loss of humanness.