The new SCI wave
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The new SCI wave (Domingo, Carlos; Sananes, Marta) Abstract An inquire about the future of SCI is attempted based in the ideas of technological waves and the metaphor of SCI as a virtual city. Technological waves are periods of economic boom and decay that span through some decades, arising from a clustering of a few mutually reinforcing technologies that permeates all socioeconomic activities. The steam engines, railways, steamboats and iron production cluster in the last century (1830-1880) is an example. The cluster produces a sustained economic growth and afterwards enters a stage of diminishing returns and crisis during which the old technologies are severely selected and the new technologies for the next boom are generated. The hypothesis in this work is that the next wave will be based on informatics, cybernetics and new developments in system theory. According to this idea, a discussion on actual and near future diffusions and impacts of these technologies in the economic and social system is presented. The affected subsystems are the production and trade of goods and services, the information market, the teaching and learning activities, the political procedures, the physical and ecological environment, and many aspects of social behavior. All these aspects will become related and integrated and will lead to the emergence of an informatic supersystem (a sort of Popper's world III) bringing opportunities, dangers and different spaces for all human intellectual activities, influencing many aspects of human life. The analogy of this space with a city or a nation is used as a descriptive and heuristic metaphor to characterize actual possibilities and explore new ones. Emerging problems are discussed: access to the cybernetic world, complexity, structural changes, learning, organization and legal issues, hindrances caused by old attitudes and institutions and new problems posed by the new society. The impact of these problems on some integrative techniques and methodologies, such as informatic webs, database building and management, systems simulation, statistics and system theory are briefly discussed. The development and impact of the different aspects of the transformation depends on the different types of societies compatible with the new wave. These types will also be affected by the wave itself. Three types of society are considered: a free, open, equal opportunity society in which the participation of the individual in the new world depends on his or her free activity; an apartheid society, with privileged groups monopolizing access to the new opportunities; an organic society, in which the access and use depend on pre-assigned roles to the individuals in an organized whole. Finally the importance of these types of inquire is stressed.