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    Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics

18

Moreover, recognition of the complexity of the elements involved in achieving significant advances in technological competitiveness must be combined with appropriate time perspectives both in setting improvement targets and in

planning them not

progress towards them. on catching up with the

In setting targets, it is important to base current capabilities of competitors, but on

careful evaluations next 5 years, along

of prospective improvements in their capabilities over with parallel evaluations of prospective changes in the

the avail-

ability and prices of all required inputs,as well as in the output levels, mix

and

prices

of

products

likely

to

be

experienced

in

the

market

place.

And

in

planning progress, realistic assessments need to be made of the likely ability of capital, of the time needed to acquire needed facilities and

avail- equipment

and for management, engineers and labor to as of the constraints likely to affect the

learn to use them effectively, as rate of adjustments in employment

well

levels

and

organizational

rearrangements.

II SOME BASIC POLICY ISSUES AND ALTERNATIVES

A.

BASIC ISSUES

Although it has already been emphasized that the declining international

competitiveness of an increasing array of domestic manufacturing industries is attributable to a variety of factors, there can be no doubt that lagging techno-

logical competitiveness and related production efficiency is one of the leading

causes. Such technological

lags are advances

due to belated and inadequate adoption of successful available from abroad, to inadequate modernization of

facilities

and

equipment,

to

inadequate

improvements

in

production

management

and

controls, and to continued shortcomings in gaining labor mizing the cost and quality competitiveness of products.

co-operation

for

maxi-

Within this array, programmable automation is especially important not only

because it can contribute to each of the others, but, above all, because it re- presents an essentially general process of progressive advances in technological

capabilities and productive efficiency.

Instead of offering the particular

localized

benefits

of

any

single

improvement

in

process

technology,

or

in

the

capability

of

a

new

machine,

programmable

automation

may

be

regarded

as

a

form

of

“contagious”

technology which keeps pressing to surmount the boundaries of any

given application and thereby to “infect” adjacent sectors of operations and

controls. its major

It may, of course, be applied beneficially potentials derive from providing the means

to of

single operations, but achieving increasingly

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