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Exploratory

Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics

Mitchell Hutchins Inc.

Government programs which could be useful in the future would be in the area such as aiding R&D expenditures through either tax credits or government funds being made available for basic research.

We believe government aid to the users would be more beneficial to robot manufacturers. could take the form of:

This

Helping companies afford the introduction of robotics into their production

process.

We

believe

this

aid

could

become

crucial

for

smaller

companies.

Establishing some sort of showcase, perhaps a national demonstration program, to provide inspirational leadership and develop a cogent policy for manufac- turing techniques.

We tion

believe that manufacturers’ ability is ultimately related to their cash

to afford robots and other aspects

flow.

A

stable

period

of

economic

of factory automa- growth, reasonable

levels of interest rates and controlled inflation as well as investment incentives would typify the ideal environment for their investment in automated equipment.

government tax policies companies in general to

providing increase

However,

it’s important to note that the introduction of robots into the manufacturing pro-

cess essentially breaks the shackles as to how things are done.

This implies an important

degree larger

of risk for companies to implement companies in this country.

robotic

programs,

a

risk

taken

currently

by

the

It appears that government incentives could be exceptionally useful in helping smaller com- panies absorb the technological risk of introducing automated equipment. The Japanese govern- ment, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI), has adopted programs addressing this issue in line with the decision that robot production is a major strategic industry for Japan’s future:

MITI has permitted manufacturers who install robots to depreciate an additional 121/2% of the purchase price in the first year.

MITI has arranged for direct government, low interest loans to small and medium scale manufacturers to encourage various type of robot installations.

MITI has helped encourage the founding of a robot leasing company --Japan Robot Lease. The objective is to support robot installations by small and medium scale manufacturers.

We believe it would be advantageous for U.S. policy to consider following the lead of the

Japanese. spread of

We also believe that the U.S. government automated techniques throughout industry.

could consider programs to help foster Heretofore, the Japanese have led the

the way

with the Japanese Automated Factory Project sponsored by the Agency of

Technology of advances into

MITI.

the

The project,

initiated in 1977,

marketplace,

with

the

acknowledged

aims to help take long-term goal of

Industrial Science and existing technological unmanned manufacturing.

16

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