The next fifty years; A Nation's Policy for Its Future
Now I'd like to propose that two kinds of shifts are needed in the emphases of our information systems for planning a shift in content and a shift in the kinds of information that is the which of these four categories I mentioned. We devote most of our effort to. With the content of information. Nowadays. We are best informed and really pretty well-informed for many planning purposes we're best informed about demography. Even if we can't predict population 50 years hand we're best informed about demography about economics. Rate of economic growth or productivity about technology. What we are least informed about and what we need badly are longer tudung no social indicators of the quality of life. In spite of pointers with pride and viewers with alarm we don't really know today. Whether public and private morality are declining or improving. We don't
know whether human lives are full or are emptier than they were a generation ago. We don't know whether there are more risk takers or more organization man. We don't know whether we're lonely or whether we're smothered in togetherness or both as some would argue I guess so that the trends in our happiness and the richness of our lives in our morale and our morals are all matters of opinion rather than matters of fact and they've got to become matters of fact just as the amount of our wealth and the extent of our hunger have become matters of fact. So then I would propose as a major goal of action. That we increase very greatly our capacity to assess longitudinally trends in the quality of life. And I've even in my paper I won't bore you with how I arrived at it in my paper tried to arrive at a number I didn't get up to a trillion. I didn't get up to even a billion. I think that we could make a long
stride toward this goal with modest expenditures. What shall we say one one hundredth of one percent of the GNP. Something like 70 million dollars a year just to pick a number out of the out of the air. Now let me go back to the four uses of information that I mentioned using it for a score card for directing our attention. For understanding how the system works and for describing where the system stands right now. In terms of these four categories we need for our planning purposes far more emphasis on the third. On understanding the structure of the social system and understanding how it works because no amount of information about it. No amount of awareness of its problems will enable us to improve it unless we do understand how it works. Improved information and increased volume about juvenile delinquency will contribute directly to the solution to that problem.
Unless we understand something about the relations of cause and effect knowing the present state of the system how many people are delinquent how many people are committed to which state institutions will not help us change it. So that a major goal in improving our social information system must be to provide the information that will be most useful for the sorts of behavioral and social research that our understanding of broadening and deepening our understanding of the mechanisms. It's true this indirect route that better information will make a major contribution to the achievement of social goals a generation hence we may want to shift emphasis generation hands when better social science knowledge is available. Then engineering measures so to speak where the system stands and managerial and political attention directing measures may take first priority. And again I think we can put numbers on this goal on this procedure go up the numbers here take the former numbers about the
quantities of capable well-trained basic social scientists we have to have in the society to bring about that understanding of the mechanism. And here our numbers get a little larger at least our dollars get a little larger in order to train. The 5000 say Ph.D.s a year. We're going to need for research in this area. Our national basic research budget in the behavioral and social sciences is going to have to rise to a figure of perhaps a billion dollars a year which is 10 or 20 times the rate of expenditure at the present time. Now when we get more as we get increasingly these sorts of information that I've been talking about then I think we do the planning tasks themselves a planning task proper which are basically not prediction tasks. Prediction being just a tool but designed tasks. And what can we say about our needs and our prospects
in the area of design. First of all great strides have been made in the last 10 years toward learning how human beings solve problems how they discover facts and theories how they design devices and systems. A great deal of the mystery and making some assertions here that someone might want me to support in discussion later but I'll just state the conclusions and let you supply the premises for the moment. A great deal of the mystery has been stripped away already from the processes we call judgment and intuition. A number of computer programs have been written that imitate human problem solving or design processes or they provide substitute functional substitutes for them. Efforts in the area that's often called artificial intelligence and some of these schemes have already reached the stage of industrial application designing electric motors and generators for example locating and designing highways scheduling large civil engineering
processes. Opinions can and do differ about the present state of the art and how fast it's moving but it seems very clear that we're about to have even if we do not yet have a clear powerful precise theory of the processes of planning and design. And this is going to have very large consequences for the activity of planning. We're going to be able to automate increasingly larger aspects of the design and planning process. We're going to be able to teach planning and design skills in a much more understanding and systematic way than we've taught them taught them in the past. And as we gain a scientific understanding of the design process itself it is going to become possible to restore design as a central or as a central subject in the professional school. An assertion which may not seem quite as poignant to the architect as it will to the engineers in the audience for design has indeed almost
disappeared from the curriculum of the engineering school. I won't try in my remaining couple of minutes here. I won't try to describe in any detail what the information processing systems will look like. That will be used by the Planet of the future the planners will have available to them. The newer and more powerful design procedures that I've alluded to I will try to do that for two reasons of which the lack of time is only one. The other one is that of course no one should imagine that he can predict in detail. What those systems are going to look like and if anyone lacks modesty in this kind of prediction they can acquire very easily by moving himself back now 50 years and asking Who but Charles Babbage would have predicted sitting in the ER 917 would have predicted the uses that we are already making of
computers and other aspects of large partly automated information systems in 1067. There are however I think some statements we can make about such assistance for the for the short or future the future in which most of us are going to be working. The first is the automated components in design systems will become substitutable for man. In almost all the tasks performed in such systems within put a number on it within 20 years and that therefore the division of labor between man and machine in such systems and in the design process will be determined by economics rather than by technical considerations and will have to make decisions in the design process itself as to which parts of it can most effectively be done by man. Which parts can be most
effective be done by machine and how they are to interact with each other in that process. But then a more conservative prediction. Human intelligence has never solved problems of the sort that we're interested in by searching enormous spaces of possibilities. Human beings solve those problems insofar as they get solved by searching among possibilities with extreme selectivity. And we should not think that merely because we now have in the back room and maybe soon will have in the front room machines that were very rapidly that spin very rapidly. We should not think that we are now going to begin to solve problems by this kind of exhaustive search. Computers like man and with man are going to solve problems in highly selective matters and hence we are not going to have information overload problems simply by having more machinery in either the back
or the front room. Let me just summarize what I think then are the four important developments that are going to take place in the planning process itself. First that we're going to have to expand our programs for gathering data systematically and longitudinally about the quality of life. Second that we're going to have to set as our main goal of improving our social information systems to provide the information that will be most useful for understanding the mechanisms of those systems how they work. Three that we're going to reintroduce research on the theory of design and the teaching of design as core activities in the professional schools that will be concerned with social policy and social planning. And as a means to this we're going to have to give high priority to exposing thousands of students and professionals to current knowledge and developments in the theory of design and the theory of intelligence. And finally a point I haven't had an opportunity because it all this morning we're going to have to intensify the
research effort devoted to understanding the processes of information diffusion including the ways in which new information gains public attention and becomes credible. In the recommendations I've also said almost nothing about hardware system hardware there will be in vast quantities and increasingly possessing the operating characteristics that I've mentioned earlier whether the hardware however pretty impressive its electronic capabilities will make major contributions to Social planning and social choice will depend almost entirely on our success and deepening our understanding of changes in the quality of life of the structure of society and of the theory of design process. These latter three areas and acceleration of effort and an allocation of much larger human and financial resources is urgently required. You have just heard the remarks of Pittsburgh behavioral scientist Dr. Herbert a
Simon as we present an in-depth examination of America's needs for planning to meet the needs of the next 50 years. A 13 week series of programs on which the nation's greatest thinkers representing many disciplines share their thoughts on the future environment of a democracy. Speeches and other remarks heard on this series of programs were recorded during the recent American Institute of planners conference held in Washington D.C.. To conclude this week's program we hear next from one of the nation's most respected economists Dr. Joseph L. Fisher president of the resources for the future corporation. Dr. Fisher was formerly executive officer for the president's Council of Economic Advisers. Just one of the many government agencies for which he has worked. He has lectured and written widely as well as consulted widely on resource development and regional growth. Dr. Fischer is a former chairman of the Arlington County Virginia County Board of
Supervisors. He is a member of the metropolitan Washington D.C. Council of Governments an organization in which he serves as a member of the executive committee. Among his many writings are resources in America and were all prospects for natural resources. To speak now on America's resource needs of the year 2017. Here is economist Joseph Fischer. Professor Simon started by saying that perhaps what he really was talking about was planning for planning. That reminds me of a fable which will serve to introduce my own very brief summary. It was a fable told by a very good friend of mine when we were a young man working together for Charles Eliot at the national resources planning Boyd which I understand is due for a rebirth. At any rate the fable took place in ancient Egypt. And the Nile was in flood. The levees and the flood protection works
were overtopped and the river spread out through the city and filled up the buildings and ruined the farmland and the Planning Commission of that ancient country retreated to the palace and huddled together with the Pharaoh and the water rose up and rose up and all their plans and works were inundated and destroyed and the water came up and up and got up about to their Chan's and the Pharaoh said to them planners What shall we do now. And the planets looked at one another and some puzzlement in the water went higher and then the chief planner stood on his tiptoes gurgled a few times. The water was right up to his mouth and he said Oh Pharaoh we must have a plan for planning. Well. A lot of planning comes as a result of crisis in my field of natural resources this is a water
crisis no matter whether there's a drought or a flood. There's an air pollution crisis there's a crisis of leisure and outdoor recreation and all the rest of it. And I suppose. Crisis is really the enemy of planning. But perhaps it is the frand of planning appropriations. But I do really think that crisis is a profound enemy of planning. And most of my paper develops you might say develops this theme that planners must take stock must try to look ahead in a disciplined way must set in motion those activities those changes and decisions of those processes which will foresee the worst of crisis prevent its happening and permit the society to move on constructively on its course. Now I will concede that an adroit and
clever use of crisis even planning a few minor crises may contribute to the larger goal. What I do in spirit through my paper insists that crisis is an enemy of planning. Now I develop this and some other things in the field of natural resource planning of land and water minerals air space and the like. And this I suppose traditionally has been the bread and water of what planners do. Oh I understand now adays. And this is I think a very good thing. Planners are deliberately expanding their horizons to include all manner of factors besides land use early in the paper I talk quite a bit about population growth new technology discoveries and developments particularly in the resources field that seem to offset some of the worst effects of population growth on levels of
living and of course the key element that one has to look at in order to make appraisals of. How the race is going between population and technology is the human and the social set of factors the human ingenuity including of course the planners the institutions and processes which they devise and I would argue as I do in the paper that we should never underrate the importance of the human and the institutional and the social factor in dealing with problems of population and technology. As things unfold now one of my critics of my paper took issue with me for being too optimistic about this because I do hold out the hope in my paper that as in the past so in the future it is not beyond the capacity of human beings to think up and put into action the
solutions that can accommodate more people at higher levels of living and perhaps even in better taste and with better aesthetics. And he thinks I'm too optimistic. He doesn't know quite what's wrong with my argument and my supporting evidence. But he feels in his bones that somehow things aren't going to turn out this well. And and I think he's probably right and I may be too optimistic as I view these things but. This is the way I am and and others who are pessimistic are that way perhaps no better reason in the paper I take a look ahead to in this country that natural resources in terms of the quantities that probably can be made available through technical advance and better management and research and development and so on against the possible demands for them of more and more people with
higher and higher expectations. And to come out with the view that unless we fall down badly on the job and the planners all sit on their hands we should be able to make it and continue to improve our way of living. But only if we keep up a very vigorous enterprise in education in research and development and so forth. And only if we continue to maintain it reasonably smoothly effectively operating world systems so we can get some of the things we need from abroad and only if we can continue with better programs of resource conservation and so forth. I turn from a quantitative look ahead to a qualitative one which is more and more coming to the fore. Among resource planners and experts as really where the problem
lies. This is the business of pollution water pollution air pollution messing up the landscape and all that. In the film that we had at the beginning the type of pollution that almost made you want to scream or run from the hall was the pollution of sheer noise and motion too much of it too rapid too kaleidoscopic. And this is a kind of pollution if you like. That is right at the heart and the vitals of the whole quality of life particularly in the cities. I know for example take the matter of the noise pollution as a as a as a local politician across the river in Arlington. I know that I get more gripe letters from people who are upset because of the noise that the airplanes make as they take off and land at the National Airport. Get more gripe letters about this
by far than anything else I even get more gripe letters about this than I do about where the school bus stops are located or what the regulations are governing little league baseball. Two very important matters. Well I turn from this as a kind of background to a consideration of some of the major objectives of resource development policy as one significant element in the whole panorama of national policy. And I set these out and then I proceed in the body of the paper and I'll just skim it so quickly here to get to this kind of a dealing. With the problems in terms of. Planning designing and fashioning new policies so that the national society can move a little more rapidly a little more smoothly. A little more intelligently
toward realizing its objectives and I say that I don't want to approach this kind of head on smashing my head into the wall but I want to get at it through the side door if you will. I want to suggest doing certain things. Which the very doing all of them will probably lead to even cause improvements in policy. That is a policy that's more fashion to meet objectives sets of policies more consistent one with another sets of policies that have both a persistent quality and a flexibility. And here are some of the things I suggest. This is a kind of side door approach but I think perhaps it's a good strategy. I suggest that. For one thing we erect quantitative and
qualitative indicators frameworks of how things are going. Projections ahead of how things can be made to go under different assumptions about technology population and policy itself. I suggest new ways of analyzing problems through systems approaches as was outlined a moment ago. Benefit cost studies and so on. I make suggestions about slight organizational rearrangements which I think can set in motion new ways altered ways of looking at the problems themselves and developing their solutions. I make some suggestions about intensified and more carefully selected research and development activities which have tremendous leverage on what happens for the future. Well this is the kind of quick sketch of my paper. I don't give you really much of the substance but just
a little hint of the way I would view improving policy for the future. In this one particular field of natural resource development and a little of the my own style and my style of getting at these matters. Thanks very much. That was Washington D.C. economist Dr. Joseph L. Fisher. Our final speaker on this week's program exploring the subject a nation's policy for its future. Next week we will conclude a discussion of that topic and conclude this 13 week series of programs always speakers next week will be the honorable Orval L3 Munn secretary of agriculture. London England city controller Desmond Heath Brookings Institute president current Gordon and American Institute of planners president Irving hand and begin of a study of California Dean Dr. William L. C. Wheaton. We hope you will be listening again next week for this final program in our series of
discussions on America's needs for planning to meet the challenges of the next 50 years. Until next week. This is Bill Greenwood a public affairs director of the national educational radio network reporting from Washington D.C.. This has been another program when the enemy are through the next 15 years expressing a variety of opinion on the future of the democratic environment. These moves were given to thinking if you're going to run for the American Institute of planners held in Washington in October of last year. As the last month for lose my mind how it will Greenwood and John Burns and I when you weigh in you ask them I'm going to university radio in Washington D.C. This is and we are the national educational radio network.
- The next fifty years
- A Nation's Policy for Its Future
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- APA: The next fifty years; A Nation's Policy for Its Future. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-tb0xv15z