What human beings are capable of accomplishing is simply amazing. Our ancestors - people who lived on Earth a hundred thousand years ago - were in most respects no different from people born in the past week. We share the same biological makeup, most of our genetic material, and a uniquely human curiosity, inventiveness and resilience. Yet the world in which we live is dramatically different from theirs. Unending waves of human innovation have amplified and extended our capabilities beyond what we can immediately see, hear and feel, giving us the power to transform our environment, extend our lifespan, combine our brainpower, create vast, interconnected and interdependent societies, and even explore the stars.

The technologies that have made this possible - from the simplest wooden plow to the most advanced personal computer - are at the core of our history. Technology has always been the lever for dramatic economic and social change, and the wave of innovation in computing and communications technology that is driving our world today is no different. While it's too early to tell what the real impact of this revolution will be, it's clear that our world is very different now, and will be vastly more so in the coming decades as the rate of change continues to accelerate. Just as the steam engine, the railroad and the telephone created dramatic, sudden shifts in the way people live, the information technology developed in the past half-century has transformed our world at a pace that dwarfs all innovations before it.

From the first large-scale computers of the 1950 s, to the introduction of the personal computer in the early 1980 s, to the ascendance of the Internet as a mainstream technology in the mid-1990 s, each successive wave of innovation has impacted the way we work, learn, play and communicate.