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    Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics

14

characterizing the long term tendencies of capital and labor costs -- with indications that the latter may warrant classification as “rising” relative to the former.

Evaluating the prospective effects of advances in computer-aided manufacturing,

or programmable automation also requires more complex considerations as well as still

broader

coverage

and

even

longer

time

perspectives.

Briefly

summarized,

they

are

likely to affect all unit input requirements as well as the factor proportions encompassed by the “network of productivity relationships”, they tend to alter longer term trends in capacity levels as well as in capacity utilization, and their effects are likely to reach beyond production operations to modify mana- gerial planning and control systems as well as the organizational structure of firms.()

c.

ROBOTICS, MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY AND INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS

1.

Some Basic Perspectives on the Determinants of International Competitiveness

The growing national concern with the declining international competitiveness of a significant array of major U.S. industries has generated a stream of pro- posals for remedial action. Unfortunately , most of these are based on untested assumptions about the general causes of such lagging competitiveness instead of on penetrating analyses of the specific industries affected.

It is important to recognize that foreign competitive pressures no longer

concentrate

only

on

older

industries

with

mature

technologies.

On

the

contrary,

such pressures are dustries as well. telecommunications,

intensifying over a wide spectrum of “high technology” in- Examples of the latter include: semi-conductors, computers, sophisticated robotics, aircraft and flexible manufacturing

systems.

Hence, following

industries, which are also

the panic-induced proposals major sources of employment

to abandon our older and income, would merely

intensify problems of domestic welfare and military security.

It is important,

of course, to foster the development though they are likely to make only

of newly emerging industries because, al- modest contributions to employment, income

(5) For a brief summary of some of these effects, see B. Gold,

“Revising Managa~~~~al

E v a l u a t i o n s o f C o m p u t e r - A i d e d M a n u f a c t u r i n g S y s t e m s , p r o c e e d i n g s o f S o c i e t y o f M a n u f a c t u r i n g 1: fact West Conferencet F o r a m o r e d e t a i l e d r e p o r t , s e e G o l d , A n I m p r o v e d a n d o f C o m p u t e r - A i d e d M a n u f a c t u r 1980). i n g Council Committee on Report to the National Research

Washington,

,

for :A

B.

Ensineers, Model

Computer-Aided Manufacturing

NOV.

Vol 1 (Deaborn~

Managerial Eval~tiOn D. c.

Utilization March 19810

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