App. B—Commissioned Background Papers
Effects of Altering Development and Diffusion Rates
Appraising the adequacy of current rates of adopting and utilizing program- mable automation and robotics obviously requires consideration of attendant
enbefits and burdens.
of both effects
have been sufficiently limited and on the employment and skill require-
experience has engendered some unconvincing assurances that the accelerated dif- fusion of such technologies will not entail significant displacements of labor at the same time that others have emphasized the urgency of utilizing these advances in order to overcome serious shortcomings in cost competitiveness through the attendant reductions made possible in labor requirements.
The basic decline in its
fact is that unemployment in any
firm is caused primarily by a adopt the technological advances
utilized by adopts such
its employment will decline much more rapidly than if it
exacted and which threaten to become even greater if
technological lags industries may now
are not require
reductions in man-hour requirements per unit of output of at least 20-30 per cent. (13) Moreover, such lags are continuing to grow as foreign competitors’
efforts to surpass American performance keep intensifying -- as may be illustrated by Japanese developments in the steel, automobile, machine tool and semiconductor
industries. is imperative.
In short, major improvements in the performance of domestic Hence, rejecting attempts to accelerate the diffusion of
industries program- then
promoting other means of achieving the efficiency and cost competitiveness of
needed large advances in the productive major industries within the next five years.
It should also be recognized that implementing the major advances in tech- nology involved in accelerating tha application of programmable automation represents
a much more difficult and far–reaching challenge to management than is generally
recognized. nologies are
The key reason for this is the failure to recognize that basic built not only into the production machinery, but also into:
(13) For a comparison of labor requirements in the Japanese and U.S. steel industries,
see B. Gold,
“Steel Technologies and Costs in the
U.S. and Japan”, Iron in Joho Shuho (Tokyo)