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On automation and technological change. From New York City Riverside radio in cooperation with the American assembly presents the last of four programs on automation and technological change. Program for considers the subject some social implications of automation. Today's panelists are Donald Michael of the Institute of Policy Studies and Leo churn executive director of the Research Institute of America. Now with some introductory comments here is your moderator. I've r Eve Berg associate professor of business Columbia University Dr. Bird the social costs of automation modern technology and rapid population growth have raised the question of how to preserve the role of the public in the face of the professionalisation of government. There are no pat answers to this question but one approach to a solution
has been supplied by the American assembly at Columbia University through its authoritative Policy Studies. It's mixed meetings of laymen and experts and it's radio and television programs the American assembly attempts to encourage the adult citizen to give serious consideration to important issues of public policy. Whether he be a layman or expert the assembly urges the citizen should attempt to learn the facts about public issues. He should discuss them with his fellow citizens and then independently make up his own mind about them. Since its establishment by Dwight Eisenhower in 1950 the American assembly has brought up Republican deliberation 24 issues of national policy. One such issue automation and technological change is the subject of the present broadcast. I am Ira Barragan Associate Professor of Business at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business. I have with me two distinguished gentlemen who have spent a great deal of time pondering over problems raised by modern technology.
Donald my go of the Institute for Policy Studies and Leo churn of the Research Institute of America have agreed to discuss one aspect of this American assembly topic. The social costs of automation. In previous broadcasts we have been concerned with an overall exploration of the general problem of technology and automation and we proceeded to a detailed discussion of the educational and employment problems that conceivably are in the immediate future in the distant future. I wonder if today we might be able to open these just a bit more and perhaps ask you Mr. Michael what major social changes we might anticipate in the increasingly widespread use and sophistication of automated equipment systems research thinking data processing and the like. I can mention a few. I certainly can't hope to be exhaustive but I
think certainly one of the major questions we're going to have to face social changes. You already alluded to namely what is the effect of an appropriate role for the average citizen in a society where the problems and the policies regarding them are so complex and the techniques using computers for example to deal with them so esoteric but he. It may not have any significant role to play at all. Certainly we have to shift our values to regarding leisure and quite possibly regarding the function of work for most people. I will certainly be talking about those more today. I would think the last one I want to mention now is a value change I would imagine with regard to long range planning and all the problems involved were not used to doing long range planning. I suspect the kind of problems a automated world faces us with require that we begin to get used to it.
The social changes that are in part a consequence of the technological changes themselves and in part the residual issues the growing upon the initial effort to meet some of these challenges like Mr. Chairman. Would you care to comment on the social changes you perceive. Well let me look in a somewhat different direction. When you introduce this discussion. Professor you use the word I don't know whether you meant to social costs. I think we want to understand that not all of the consequences will be cost some will be benefits. It's quite clear that within the United States and very possibly in a fair portion of the balance of the world certainly the industrial world a life free from fear of starvation sickness early death is now women and this is no
longer a dream. In fact in much of the United States now life free from the fear of starvation the already present and its revolutionary fact. However the absence of things social costs will undoubtedly be accompanied by new fears new social consequences increasing the revolution of people of the subsidized Idol the Katusha allies who are the aimless and shiftless leisure group's leisure groups either partially or wholly at leisure. I think Donald Michael was quite right in. Putting a shop spotlight on the changing concepts dealing with work in time for many Americans
time will overtake money as a basic form of wealth as a basic value. Now time is itself something without value. The values must now be introduced. There is no indication at all that we're prepared to. You would share than the the judgment made many years ago by Oscar Wilde that we sometimes know the cost of many things that is the price of many things without knowing the value of many other things. I was wondering in connection with this Mr Michael. You imply that we needed a change in some particular values as the Chinese suggested that there are some benefits to come. We will be freed from a number of once was there any implication of what you said that we will be freed from work and that this might not be a benefit. Excuse me let me say first that I certainly agree with Mr churn that this is a
mixed bag of benefits and costs and one difficulty with much of the discussion about the impact of automation is that there is too much tendency to look at only one side or the other or to assume that when you have a benefit there is no cost deriving from it or vice versa. It's a major problem we face is coming to deal with these issues in terms of their complexity rather than simplifying them to a point where you can't do anything sensible about them. As far as our attitudes toward work yes I would imagine we have to have a very fundamental change in the US. What are some of the values you think are operative with respect to our attitudes towards work now that would require the most systematic alteration. Well it depends on because these values vary with the class of people already or the role that one plays in the work environment but. Certainly there's a large part of the working population that presently sees a job as a way of life that is you get into it and you either stay there or work up the ladder as you go
along but there is a continuity to it. Now one thing that's quite clear is that many many occupations will last only part of a person's life. And this means that there will be ability in disruption and everybody says blandly and casually great will have lifelong education. Well this is not a bland or casual situation it's a radically new one for almost everybody in this society people don't spend their lives being educated and being re-educated when a job depends on it can be a very very threatening feint as is evident for some of those middle managers who now have to go back to school and their families are suffering and they are too in the emotional disruption that it causes so that's one kind of change. Oh I dunno who changed who the who the meaning of work and in fact one it is that they expected from where. My most frequent contacts are with business men since the research is to Americans primarily concerned with advising sistem business men
and I have found interesting only enough that there's been a sharp falloff in expression and want expression that used to be very common among business men and that in fact followed emotionally the period of intense unionization of the middle 90 30 business men be moaned the difficulty of securing an honest day's work for an out of days pay or business man and no longer expecting an honest day's work for an honest day's pay in fact. There is an increasing unconscious awareness and willingness to provide paid leisure on the job. That's part of this whole problem we have looked at. We think of leisure as time away from the plant the factory of the office a very important part of leisure and some of the cushioning that's already taken place is losing her on the job right.
There's an implication of what you're saying that the results at least to some degree from a developing humanistic strain in modern business thinking. Would you want to take the possibility that this is a result of the increasing difficulties in the automated plants and technologically sophisticated production operations. With respect to measuring a fair day's work that we don't know idea I think this precedes the introduction of automation. And by and large is characteristic of businesses which of not yet really introduce the new technology in any significant way. We'll take the head of the most common and describable form of leisure on the job the coffee break while a coffee break has been characteristic of business for some years 10 or more. And for most of these business is prior to the introduction of. Any part of the new technology I
went to was Mike would you agree that a coffee break constitutes the kind of leisure that we have in the first instance to be concerned about in an automated world with robots and machines doing most of what. No I think it's an interesting. Aspect of the leisure problem. I'm not as sanguine about the full implications of it as Mr turns I don't issue remarks No I don't no no no no again I did not but we can come back to that later and I think that the leisure problems that are of our central concern are those that have to do with having large chunks of leisure when one talks of the shortened work week there's a tendency to think of a somewhat longer weekend for a variety of reasons that isn't the way it's likely to go. We're likely to have longer vacations and indeed sabbaticals a year off here or there. As time goes on and it's learning to use this time in a meaningful way that is a major challenge. Most people
who will have that leisure time don't have the education or the values apparently to use that effectively as it now stands and those who would know what to do with it aren't going to have that leisure time their dog is going to harm no differences no difference between us. In fact I found only marginal references to one very large group in our community which I think will probably. Some just feel the impact of this search for meaningful ways in which to use leisure. I think it stream really unlikely that women will to the extent prevalent today and in the recent past be part of the employed population. I think the impact of automation will in many ways find women at a very convenient target. I mean we now have great difficulty finding new meaning in
time and in fact this is one of the reasons by no means the most important that's one of the reasons for the entry of so many women married women into the labor force. If you think there's an implication what what both of you been saying that somehow what on earlier broadcasts has been seen as an unemployment problem. Suddenly in this discussion turned into a leisure problem how do we move. What are the institutional blocks through which we have to move to accomplish the revolution in thought the both of you have slipped through rather quickly. Many of us are concerned about unemployment and you gentlemen are both talking about increased leisure. Well there you're going to have both. Just as you do now and when I do when we're talking about leisure I think we mean for those who will be in a position to potentially enjoy having the economic get the money to do so I would say certainly that a major revolution that has to be gone through is that which makes it possible to teach youngsters because that's what it has to be done to value the meaningful use of
leisure. Now this is extraordinarily difficult to do because schools are set up primarily as efficient and at ease for teaching work and the virtues that go with it. It doesn't at our look to me like you can teach meaningfully easier in a school comprised which is administered for efficiency work payoff in an environment which now bemoans frills and school and by teachers who come from backgrounds where the Protestant as I think still is highly approved virtue. So how are you and call Kate the kind of sense of self is a difficult one. Maybe I'm going to read what is there but I think a Vajra question do you do you are in complicate that sense of self. Why can't the Puritan ethic or the Protestant ethic or whatever into Tell one might call it. Not be translated into leisure. You referred in your writings for example to the strenuous leisure of the free Greek.
Why are we so without the Puritan strain in our leisure as we sit on ribbons of concrete and look at meaningless advertising signs on super highways or support for screens at night viewing what one is termed chewing gum for the eyes. Why aren't we as as as ambitious in our leisure. What blocks are there to that. The simple translation of an old value to a new variety even maybe that may be that the end of the Puritan ethic of Calvinism is itself really the most important barrier while viewing leisure in the terms you suggest. And in fact the Puritan ethic may in fact be responsible for our accepting our present notion of leisure. So much of your time now is spent is so many obviously on enjoyable ways you describe one I know a few less enjoyable ways than sitting bumper to bumper on a highway. Now that's tolerable precisely because it's not enjoyable not adopted.
Anyone has said that to himself that we haven't learned how to enjoy Well without a sense of guilt and anxiety and concern for the wreck and deadly one can see the Protestant Ethic creeping into the idea of leisure not leisure is good for you. You see you need it for your health and by golly the only way it's right to spend leisure is in a virtuous way I think there's a version out of irritation in your voice and in justifying leisure with this kind of therapeutic logic relations I think the earth nation is on warranted in terms of of all discussion for this reason I believe it will be urgent to find a variety of. Descriptions often justifications for leisure that will be emotionally supportable and we want to stress your other scripts these are very emotional and yesterday's emotional connotations. Let me I was a question in a slightly different way and again make reference to our free Greek heroes is there a possibility that the kind of strenuous
leisure which is in its own way therapeutic and constructive. Could take the form of political activity social participation constructive preoccupation with community and social issues would just be one way out of the dilemma of making leisure both gratifying and good might be for a few people it certainly will be and is presently for a few people but we professionalized most of those activities remember that the Greek the Greek example just won't work for us. In the first place the Greeks spent a good part of what we call leisure time in political activities that are now professionalized. When they weren't doing that they were horsing around the gym or drinking with their friends and all that kind of thing. People moan for spending leisure remember the para clean age only lasted about a generation and a half. But what's probably most revealing about the Greek situation in the light of our present professionalization of government and so on is that the only job which wasn't fulfilled by all men on a lot
basis or something like that was the equivalent of the secretary of defense where you needed a man of great technical competence who understood the complex cities because these were too important and too complex to leave to the average man. And now a great part of our of our government process is of that sort so that it does. And this is true at the local level as well as the national level so that it does. I don't find in that possibility a way of giving most people a. Adequately sure though I agree with Mr. Chairman we can't expect to use the same pattern of leisure time for all people and some will will use it this way. Is that enough. Let me use this point of discussion to stress something that I think is that is not received quite the attention it must. We form on ourselves we've fallen into one very convenient intellectual trap. We're dealing we're trying to formulate the intelligent or useful ways of using or directing
leisure time without knowing all the ways in which leisure time is being you. So much of the problem of cyber nation your term Don. So much of the problem which flows of cyber nation. Is really not adequately understood by us. We don't have the data now in the area of leisure for example. I urgently want to know how the electrical workers are using the balance of the week that's not part of the twenty eight hours they won as a result of collective bargaining. Well there are some I don't want to know how they should use it. In fact I find it not especially useful to discuss how they should use it without first knowing how they are using it. OK now manipulation of people. I think we've learned this manipulation of people manipulation of their purposes their habits as it is remarkably difficult. This is one of the
in a sense great strengths we have and whatever contest exists between us and the communist world I think that contests is very real in the media. They're having great difficulty altering the human beings much more than they thought and much more than we thought would be the case. I think too we will have great difficulty in altering our human beings. We had better therefore understand one of the fairly automatic ways in which they themselves make the choices which would involve you. I know very little about it here here as far as the electrical workers are concerned. Their spokesman claims that they're putting in a great deal of time at their education institute learning a lot of other so I'm very sad it was found out I have in fact I know but I maybe I don't know but I would certainly agree that most of the we need an enormous amount of study and systematic work in these areas that we don't have. There's another area I'd like to know a great deal more about than I at least know
now the extent to which a shortened work week especially for union members is accompanied by moonlighting. Another job or other paid work one form or another. Now I understand why unions particularly an not eager to have this examined. An examination of this might in fact result in pressure upon unions to restrict their members right to take other employment. Rather than focusing the attention on the reduction of the work week and the increase in overtime pay. Your comment reminds me that there are other aspects to leisure that are worth a careful study such as What are the consequences of having the husband around the house more than before. Or what are the consequences to a woman. What are the consequences economy of not having women work who will now do so for whatever reasons may be. What happens when children are in school practically around the clock and the
breadwinner is home much more than before. There are a whole series of problems having and opportunities having to do with the structure of the family you know in a more innocent interaction is that what happens to an educational institution in this case the high school. As a result of students being required to attend school two years beyond the present age requirement question in more general and to what degree are our educational establishment or the educational establishment capable of pioneering in the area. Rethinking old ideas pioneering and developing my thoughts concerning work and leisure and political and social participation and engagement so cool. Are you optimistic Mr. Michael. No not in the short run and it seems to me we really haven't talked about it today and I hope we will this problem of lead time of sufficient time to solve these problems. I am not pessimistic about the education institution with all of
its various infighting bureaucratic parts and different interests succeeding in developing a new philosophy for educating the large part of the population rather than the little experiments here and there changing their ways of teaching teachers changing their way of selecting teachers of administering schools of allocating funds. All of these things for a world which doesn't exist yet and which upsets present empires. Maybe I could turn to another closely related issue. In the time we have available. I wonder. To what degree both of you are optimistic or pessimistic about the capacity of Americans in particular for identifying the nature of the revolution that both of you clearly seem to feel as is underway. The degree to which this revolution will have to go much much further before it is recognized
identified characterized and ultimately discussed and become the object of public policy discussion. I'm quite optimistic about America recognizing the presence of this resit revolution sooner than we have recognized the presence of other national problems. I think there are certain reasons which predisposes to the recognition of this one I think America has not yet recovered from the trauma of its own depression and as a result has been and remains remarkably sensitive to the presence of unemployment. Let me quickly say however recognizing that a revolution does not mean that it is either understood or that the remedies being discussed have any particular relevance to the problem which is being recognised. Michael all I would add to that is that I think that part of the revolution which will be recognised has to do with work and the challenges for the democratic process and the other
issues we face today are likely to be recognised far later rather than sooner. And lastly that the recognition must come in time to allow the lead time for making the changes that are necessary to get us through. And I favorable way and I'm not at all lead time get so it becomes less and less as a result of the momentum of technological change. I just I'm not very encouraged about. One last question addressed to each of you in turn Mr. churn. What. What differences do you think there are between the totalitarian societies and our own democratic society with respect to the prospects for a rethinking of policy issues. Are we in a democratic society less easily mobilized less likely to look for new ideas less likely to recognise new ideas than would be the case in the master minded totalitarian society with elites responsible for public polishing policy to answer
or to give an oversimplified answer were extremely complicated problems I would say that no we are more flexible will more readily approach unconventional answers. I will be more flexible in our expert exploration and responses but we cannot mobilise the community or its reactions nor planned as well as the totalitarian society. Mr Michael maybe you would address yourself to this problem of democracy's capacity for absorbing its own problems and coping with them. I think Mr Chernev well reflected my own feeling on this. In short we have come part way around a very difficult and complex issue in this series of programmes. And while there are reasons to be much more concerned than we have been as a society to the revolution underway. That there are some reasons both of you would say for expecting that our society is in a somewhat better position than others.
Thank you Donal Michael of the Institute for Policy Studies and Leo churn executive director of the Research Institute of America for your enlightening commentary on the social implications of automation. This has been the fourth and final program in the American assembly series automation and technological change. This is Ivor Berg speaking. From New York City Riverside radio in cooperation with the American assembly as presented the last of four recorded radio discussions on automation and technological change heard today discussing some social implications of automation where Leo churn executive director of the Research Institute of America and Donald Michael of the Institute of Policy Study moderator was I've already Berger associate professor of business Columbia University. This is the national educational radio network.
Automation and technological change
Social implications of automation
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WRVR (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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This program explores the possible effects of automation on society.
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Discussions of the implications of automation and technological change.
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Host: Berg, Ivar E.
Panelist: Michael, Donald N.
Panelist: Churn, Leo
Producing Organization: WRVR (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 64-33-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:30
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APA: Automation and technological change; Social implications of automation. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from