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80 . Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics

First, at least

been

very

mod

in the U. S. , funding for

est.

Every indication

is

robotics

that

in

the

R&D has future,

support will grow,

but not dramatically.

Certainly,

there

is

nothing

to

the

scale of

the

suggest that a crash Manhattan Project or

development the Apollo

program on

Moan

Pro-

gram is imminent. federal government

to

Certainly,

launch

such

there are no plans for

an

effort

and

private

the in-

vestment

funds

are

not

likely

to

be

committed

on

a

massive

scale still

because of the long time to

a

long

term

research

topic.

pay We

back,

Robotics

is

are a

long, long

way

from

a

sophisticated

sensory

interactive,

intelligent,

high-

ly

skilled,

dexterous,

economically

feasible,

and

commer-

cially manufacturable term, time consuming)

robot.

Research in this area

and

risky.

Also,

there

is

no

is long certain-

fore , can capture worthwhile. no ty that inventions guarantee enough of the can be kept proprietary. that the firms which make benefits to

There is there- the investments

make

the

risk

Secondly,

even after the research and

development

problems

are solved, several decades dollars will be required to

and many hundreds of

convert

the

present

billions of industrial

base to severely

robot technology. tax available sources

This enormous investment will

of

capital.

The

transforma-

tion of the entire industrial plant of a country simply not be achieved except over an extended time period.

can-

Thirdly, and perhaps most the desirability of rapid,

importantly) many voters

question

massive

deployment

of

robot

tech–

nology.

Despite

the

obvious

benefits

from

productivity

im-

provement, there would justments necessary as a

be serious social and result of such a rapid

economic ad- productivity

growth.

Productivity improvement by its very

the

amount

of

human

labor

needed

to

produce

a

nature reduces given product.

Thus,

an

obvious,

but

I

believe

incorrect

conclusion

is

that

a rapid increase

There

is

a wide

in productivity would lead to spread perception that robots

unemployment. pose a threat

to jobs.

rate

that

The fear is that if robots were

is

technologically

possible,

introduced at

the

unemployment

would

become a serious problem.

However, result

of

widespread unemployment is rapid productivity growth.

not the inevitable There is not a fixed

amount of work!

More work can always be created.

All

that

is needed turated. increased

is

The at

a way to meet the payroll.

Markets

purchasing the same

power of consumers can rate that more products

are not sa- always be flow out of

the The

robot factories.

At present,

there is plenty of demand.

mere

fact

of

inflation

is

prima

facie

evidence

that

con-

sumer demand niques and stant prices.

exceeds the ability of present production tech- facilities to supply goods and services at con-

Work is easy to create.

So is demand.

What

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