Any study on the historical evolution of nations and countries points out the decisive importance of productivity trends. We are all very familiar with the main evolution which started with a hunting society at the dawn of civilization, then moved to an agricultural society, and quickly to craftsmanship and com- merce. The beginning of the industrial society dates back to the end of the eighteenth century in England, with the introduction of the assembly line in the textile and smelting industries. However, in the last few decades, we are becoming more and more acutely aware of the paramount importance of the production of "information". Indeed, according to a few economists today, we should be classified as living in an information society which has superseded the industrial society. At this point it simply becomes necessary to talk about the computer informa- tion industry, which is more and more pervading our lives, from the personal computer, to the workstation, to information networks and electronic mail, to the blueprint executed by robots, to the supercomputer necessary in any major scientific and engineering task.
The computer has already brought about a momentous change in the production line - less and less man-size, more and more robot-size. But this rush to tech- nical innovation has not stopped at this point. Artificial intelligence and expert systems are becoming a more and more important factor for production by many enterprises and activities.