Views and Values - changed by informatics?

Roz Seymour, EdD, RN

Associate Editor, Nursing Education

I was wondering, what will be said about nursing informatics in 2050? If indeed viewers' values determine the view, how will we value and view the ability to technologically monitor persons in public and private life? How will we value and view what technology, which requires Informatics, has wrought such as genetic cloning, greatly extended life expectancies, altered age distribution in society, and alternative modalities for everything related to living and dying just to name a few.

Will we fast become obsolete (we nurses and everyone else) as we exist today in that techno-informatics (TI) future? As a matter of fact, our (nurses) uniquiness will become more specified and needed in the TI future. A future where everyone will belong to a health center, critical care centers will be regionalized, bioemporiums (Parse, 1992) will arise for those of us in various stages of preparing to donate organs as we are cared for by robots and bionic engineers.

Of course, we will have regional medical centers but they will provide out-patient care for minor bionic repairs and surgeries. Birthing centers will still be but the maternal parent may not be the birth parent and the birth parent may not be human. As you can imagine quality of life and promotion of health will be manifest. How will we view and value these effects of technology organized under a science of informatics?

Co-equals with medicine and law, nurses will enter their careers at the post-baccalaureate level from a universal, pre-professional, core curriculum which will be shared with medicine, law, business, and theology students (Parse, 1992). There will be no question about some of the courses in that core. Anthropology, Astronomy, Ethics, Universal Finance, Health, History, Intergalactic Relations, Bionics, Universal Legislative Policy, Universal Marketing, Philosophy, Prose and Poetry, Psychology, Robotics, Sociology, Technology/Informatics, Telecommunications, and Law will be just a few.

Some of the writings about the next century, that have affected me most as I think about informatic's effect on our values and views of the future have been done by Rifkin (1996) who claims our lives will be quite different. He sees workerless factories, virtual companies, and small teams of entrepreneurs and highly trained professioinals running things. He predicts less than 20% of the adult population working full time and the rest of us getting paid with technlolgy tax vouchers which we cash in. The work we will do to earn the vouchers, he says, will be taking care of things like the elderly, children, religion, gardens, and neighborhoods. We will be paid for building community. Those who accept these values and views are, he says, least vulnerable to replacement by the computer. Their skills will not be reduced to digitization and computerization because caring tasks require intimate relationships between people and are far too complex and difficult to be attended to by any high-tech software (Rifkin,1996).

A social conscience then, not a technolgical society will emerge from the ashes of technology/informatics, a more humane and ecologically sustainable society, at that. So I guess I see Informatics growing from its humble beginnings and same language issues to emersion with all of the other technocentric sciences to produce a future I would love to be here to see.


Parse, F. (1992). Nursing knowledge for the 21st century: an international commitment. Nursing Science Quarterly, 5(1), 8-12.

Rifkin, J. (1996). The good life in the post-market age. UTNE Reader, 56-57.