Bookings and registrations of all kinds via the Internet, voice servers, online administrations, ATM: machines and information technologies are now essential in the daily lives of everyone.
In less than a decade, with a noticeable acceleration over the past five years, information and communication technologies (ICT) have spread widely in France, transforming everyday lifestyles: interpersonal exchanges, work , political expression, relations with the administration, consumption or cultural practices.
This evolution, which is imposed on the most refractory, in particular because of the automation of a growing number of services, results in part from what is called Moore’s Law . In 1975, this American engineer had formulated the hypothesis, hitherto verified in every respect, according to which, at constant cost, the number of microprocessor transistors on a silicon chip, and therefore its processing capacity, would double all the eighteen months. More and more efficient electronic products, ever smaller and less expensive, have thus become accessible to an ever wider audience, according to an exponential curve.
The success of the mobile phone (74% of French were equipped in 2006) or the Internet at home (43% of 18 year olds are connected, 89% of which is broadband, a very fast rise of 4 points per year , which seems to continue in 2007), does it testify to the adaptation of society as a whole? The rate of equipment (personal computer, telephony, Internet connection) is the first indicator to measure it. It shows that these first steps in the “information society”, in any case, do not take place at the same pace, the differences in age, income, diploma, maintaining a persistent digital divide. Even a “double ditch”, defined not only by access to equipment, but by the use that one makes of it.
Does the spread of ICTs exacerbate inequalities, or on the contrary, can it overcome social barriers, as it has abolished physical boundaries? On the other hand, how can we guarantee that the new possibilities offered by geolocation or the cross-checking of individual data, for example, remain under the control of citizens? From sociology to philosophy, the human sciences question this “third industrial revolution”, which upsets our relationship to the other, to knowledge, to power, to the collective. But in this respect, the only certainties are today of a statistical nature.