INFO HIGHWAY NEEDS SPEED LIMIT

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I am concerned and perplexed about the information superhighway. I have read a lot of papers, listened to quite a number of experts and attended conferences on this very debated subject and have come to several conclusions.

First conclusion: The superhighway exists, but there is no traffic. It may be obvious that the information superhighway is the answer to future information possibilities, but there are numerous questions which are still without any answers, such as who is going to finance it all? I think that's the most important question.

Second conclusion: We lack an acceptable and comprehensive definition of what we are talking about. Not so long ago, members of the U.S. Congress during a special session on the subject agreed on two points: That they were in favor of the information superhighway and that they did not know what it was all about.

The information superhighway is the link between telephone, computer and television. This leads to the multimedia concept which combines voice, print and action. But I would like to know what its real beneficial application could be today or even tomorrow, in my very busy, daily, layman's life.

The technologies are so complex that in order to use them preoperly, you either need to be an en-gineer in electronics or have the help and rescue of your young daughter or son.

Third conclusion: The use of these new technologies on a regular daily basis will be for the next generation(s). Not only because of their complexity, but also because some important steps have to be taken to standardize and liberalize telecommunications, not only in Europe but worldwide. Within the European sphere, some prefer the expression "information society." A society that will have at its disposal the widest range of information of all kinds. The problem is that having wide information at our disposal is only one aspect, but the most important one is what we are going to do with it?

Please don't think I am negative or pessimistic, but I prefer to be realistic. Taking this into account, we have to prepare ourselves for the future even if this future is not for tomorrow, and even if today there is no traffic on the "information superhighway."

One of the first steps will be to improve and develop existing facilities before developing new ones. But our society is in a hurry, it never seems to be satisfied with what exists and always strives for new developments, new facilities, new techologies. We are as "Alice-in-Information-Wonderland," and we have to run twice as fast as the technological developments in order to master their applications in the field of marketing communications.

AAI invites you to submit your view. Send no more than 350 words to AAI, 220 E. 42nd St., New York 10017. Fax: 1-212-210-0200.

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