Information technology is central to our society -- economically and socially

During the past fifty years, the firms that provide our computers, communications technology, and information services, have become a vitally important underpinning to our economy and to our society -- both in terms of their own economic strength, and in terms of their productivity impacts on other industry sectors, from automobile and aircraft manufacturing, to pharmaceutical research, to overnight package delivery services.

To an increasing degree, information technology is becoming so embedded in everyday applications that it is becoming nearly invisible, hence easy to take for granted. Cellular telephones, which have become so common over the past few years, depend on highly sophisticated computing and communication technology. Advanced processors and algorithms are integral to medical diagnostic devices such as CAT scanners. Embedded microprocessors are essential components in compact disc players, video cameras, automobiles, and microwave ovens. Consumers are protected against possible fradulent use of credit cards by systems that infer information about personal usage patterns.

The development of the National Information Infrastructure, so much in the news lately, has really just begun. With proper investment, the NII holds the promise of greatly amplifying the already enormous impacts of information technology. It will extend to rural America the benefits that urban dwellers take for granted in areas such as health care, libraries, government information, cultural resources, and entertainment. It will enhance the way scientists and engineers perform the research that is so important to our nation as a whole. It will revolutionize manufacturing and commerce, and transform education.

Retaining America's leadership in information technology is vital to the nation -- to our security, to our economic competitiveness, to our employment, and to the health and well-being of our citizenry.

Back to Computing Research: Driving Information Technology and the Information Industry Forward (
Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 by Edward D. Lazowska and the Computing Research Association. Portions adapted with permission from "Evolving the High Performance Computing and Communications Initiative to Support the Nation's Information Infrastructure," copyright 1995 by the National Academy of Sciences, courtesy of the National Academy Press, Washington DC.