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114 . Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics

24

may be attributed in part to the limited knowledge of such capabilities of most of the senior engineering officials responsible for advising top management about

important technological developments. tendency of firms to continue relying

Another influential factor on processes for developing

has been the innovational

proposals, reasonably past, but for major

and on capital budgeting models for evaluating them, which worked well for incremental improvements in established technologies in the which have serious shortcomings in generating and evaluating proposals

(12) advances in technology like programmable automation.

Such

restricted perspectives have also been supported by the concentration

of most vendors of programmable control systems and of robots on selling bits and pieces to the lower level officials concerned with the sub-sectors likely to be directly affected by their application, thus reinforcing the traditional view that technical innovations can best be evaluated by specialists in the operations immediately involved, instead of emphasizing the broader potentials rooted in these

emerging technologies. penalties of some early

Widespread awareness of the shortcomings and resulting applications have also encouraged disinterest in these

developments.

have

been

quite

It is important to recognize

backward

in

recognizing

the

in addition that most universities new potentials of manufacturing tech-

nology and of providing the educational programs and research facilities needed to train urgently needed specialists and to provide urgently needed advances in

related knowledge. There would be no basis, of

course, for efforts by government to urge all

manufacturers to adopt these innovations,

inasmuch as differences in their needs

and resources ensure that no advances in technology are equally attractive for

all firms desirable

even in the industries most directly for government agencies to undertake

affected.

But it might

active

programs

to

help

well be develop

fuller as the

understanding in industry of the potentials and current limitations, of programmable automation

accomplishments, as well systems and robotics --

including

periodic

reports

on

progress

in

the

development

and

utilization

of

such

advances

abroad. And

array of

universities

such agencies might well consider exploring with a reasonable the possibilities and desirability of expanding educational

as well helping aid.

as to

research programs in various sectors of manufacturing technology -- and finance the acquisition of needed facilities as well as some scholarship

(12)

For a

d

eta

i l e d

discussionof

these processes and models see ,

B.Gold, m

Improved Model Manufacturing:

for Managerial Evaluation A Report to the National

and Utilization of Computer-Aided Research Council Committee on

Computer-Aided Manufacturing

(Washington,

D.

C.,

March

1981)”

.

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