C·A·P Home · Global Future · Newsletter Archive · global_futures 11/98
CAP Home

global_futures 11/98

The Research Group on the Global Future's e-mail newsletter

09.11.1998 · Research Group on the Global Future

 < backnext > 

Our portal to the future on the digital revolution has won rave reviews from visitors. Thanks to everyone for their positive feedback. In short, the portal on digitalization is the first of several additions to our website that concentrate ideas and connections on one of the Research Group's topics. Each portal will link you to key documents,innovative web sites, and bibliographies that bring you the bestwork on the subject. Our next portal will illuminate the fundamental changes that biotechnology is bringing.

Digital Portal

Eight items this time on the themes of future societies:

(1) Book reviews from the Research Group;
(2) Research policy in the US and Germany, from the CAP;
(3) Biometrics, from the German magazine Focus;
(4) International Telecommunication Union trying to speed up the internet;
(5) International congress on electronic media and citizenship in an information society;
(6) Internet Paradox;
(7) Interesting items from the OECD;
(8) Four takes on electronic commerce from around the world.



The latest from our global 'worth reading' list: "Wirtschaftskummerland: Wege aus der Globalisierungsfalle" (Economic Worryland: Ways out of the Globalization Trap), by Warnfried Dettling and "Genethik und Ethik" (The Lives to Come) by the American philosophy professor and historian of science Philip Kitcher. The section for "Book Reviews" on our homepage is growing steadily, with 3-4 reviews per month on publications dealing about issues of the future. The books under review cover politics, technology, economics, social change, and visionary fiction.



(2) Learn from America?

How does a country develop world-class research capabilities? Which policies lead to successful results, and which to more bureaucracy? A working paper of the CAP (in German):

Thomas Paulsen/Manuel Froehlich unter Mitarbeit von Dorothea Lamatsch: Von Amerika lernen? Schluesselbereiche der deutschen Forschungslandschaft im internationalen Vergleich. Eine Studie zur Informations- und Biotechnologie, Centrum fuer angewandte Politikforschung, Muenchen 1998, 155 Seiten, ISBN 3-933456-04-5.

More Information on Transatlantic Relations at the CAP:


(3) Biometrics

The German political magazine 'Focus' reports about new developments in biometrics in the edition 41/1998. Biometric systems permit computerized handling, controlling and storing of human characteristics by connecting advanced measurements of individual characteristics with powerful information technology. As a result, biometrics are making the automated identification of humans possible. Identification systems identify typical human characteristics such as the sound of the voice, the eye color, or fingerprints. With biometrics, users will not have to remember secret numbers for cars or money machines. The goal of biometrics is to improve personal and data security. The US government, for example, hopes for more efficient monitoring of social benefits. Investigations of the German Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Office of Criminal Investigation) have confirmed an increasing abuse of money and credit cards. The Bundeskriminalamt recorded more than 57.000 criminal acts involving credit cards in 1997. Experts expect that worries about security will push biometrics into widespread use at the beginning of the next century.

(4) More speed on the Internet

Recently the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) settled on a standard for a technology that promises to deliver significantly improved access speeds over regular telephone lines by the middle of next year. The Union gave its final approval to a set of technical specifications for "DSL lite," a flavor of high-speed Internet data delivery known as Digital Subscriber Line. With a speed limit of 1.5 Mbps, DSL lite -- also known as g.lite -- is 30 times as fast as today's 56-Kbps modems. With this speed the commercial transfer of video-data on the Internet will become a real possibility. Think about the consequences for broadcasters and government regulators.

More information from Wired:


(5) Upcoming Congress

Politics & Internet - 2nd International Congress on Electronic Media & Citizenship in an Information Society; 6-9 January 1999, Espoo, Jyvaeskylae, Oulu and Tampere, Finland

Initiated and coordinated by the Finish Parliamentary Committee for the Future, the Congress will seek to assess the potential, challenges and dangers of the new information technologies for society. The many different sessions which cover all important aspects of information society will be attented by high-ranking officials as well as by interest groups and normal citizens.

More Information: http://www.dipoli.hut.fi/pi99/


(6) Lonely online?

The researchers of the famous Homenet Study at Carnegie Mellon University have published an article on their results which is available on the net:

American Psychologist, September 1998: Internet Paradox - A Social Technology That Reduces Social Involvement and Psychological Well-Being?

Read also the review of the book:
Kimberly S. Young: Caught in the Net: How to Recognize the Signs of Internet Addiction and a Winning Strategy for Recovery, N. Y.: Wiley & Sons, 1998

(7) OECD

Several interesting items from the organization of the world's wealthiest contries:

First, a report on the organizations research on the long-term problems of sustainable development.

OECD Work on Sustainable Development: A discussion paper on work to be undertaken over the period 1998-2001 http://www.oecd.org/subject/sustdev/oecdwork.htm

Second, ministers from the OECD's 29 member countries recently adopted declarations on the protection of privacy, the protection of consumers, and authentication in the networked economy. They also agreed on a program of future work in the areas of taxation,privacy, consumer protection, authentication, access to infrastructure and the socio-economic impact of electronic commerce. Whether governmental groups can tackle these questions better than the independent internet bodies currently working on them is open to question, but the governments have definitely decided to involve themselves in these issues.

Read also the executive summary of the report "The Economic and Social Impact of Electronic Commerce: Preliminary Findings and Research Agenda" is on the OECD website.

OECD's Ottawa Documentation:

Third, the OECD Forum for the Future has published a book on far-reaching future-oriented topics centered around the theme of "People, Nature and Technology: Sustainable Societies in the 21st Century." The book is the first in a serier whose aim is to build a comprehensive foundation for assessing critical choices likely to face citizens and decision-makers in the next century. We think it's worth taking a look.

21st Century Technologies:
Promises and Perils of a Dynamic Future
174 pages, OECD, Paris 1998
Available in electronic version (pdf format)
FF140; US$23; DM42
ISBN 92-64-16052-3 (03 98 03 1)
Also on sale at the OECD publications distributors.

More Information:


Although the United States presently accounts for approximately 80% of electronic commerce worldwide, American predominance may not last in a rapidly evolving new economy. This report from Andersen Consulting is also November's Digital Highlight in our digital portal section.

How eCommerce Could Impact Europe's Future

A report by Andersen Consulting, 1998

Electronic commerce is rapidly transforming the way business is conducted throughout the world, and Europe cannot afford to be left behind. Contrary to a widely held impression that the US is so far ahead in eCommerce as to be uncatchable, this report highlights several key areas in which Europe has the potential to compete and to lead.

For more on the boom of the net and e-commerce in Europe, see some quick facts in "German Online Boom" from Wired. http://www.wired.com/news/news/email/

In Japan, the revolution seems to be taking a little longer.

Read the report: "Japan and International Society in the Age of Information Revolution", August 1998 http://www.glocom.ac.jp/proj/jitcpf/teigen-e.html

For a less orthodox view of the nature of information proliferation in the Internet,see "The Hi-Tech Gift Economy" by Richard Barbrook in <nettime>: Part 1: http://www.factory.org/nettime/archive/2327.html
Part 2: http://www.factory.org/nettime/archive/2330.html


global_futures also offers an interactive forum. Recommendations, letters, and tips are welcomed by the editors, particularly on the topics of the digital future, biotechnology, sustainability and the new economy. Send all feedback to fgz@lrz.uni-muenchen.de.


Douglas Merrill, Patrick Meyer, Juergen Turek, Markus Vorbeck

Research Group on the Global Future
Center for Applied Policy Research
Gschwister Scholl Institute
Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich