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March 17, 1982 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-03-17

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6

Page 4

OPINION

1 y f

Robotics:

Wednesday,_March 17, 1982.
Problems a

end

The Michigan Daily

potential

By Henryk Skolimowski
The state and the University increasingly
are looking toward high technology and
,obotics to pull them out of the current
'ecession. Gov. Milliken has formed a task
force to attract high-technology industry to
the state-and the University is expected to
be at the hub of new high technology
obotics development.
A special conference will be held this
Saturday at Rackham Hall to discuss how
robotics will affect the economy, unem-
,ployment, and existing industries such as
Zr/g auto industry.
To prepare for the conference, three
Wiythical characters-High Tech, Low
Tech, and Concern-met this week to
discuss the social implications of the robot.

- <>; ,.
. __

'revolution.

quickly before others do. Robotics can create
exciting new research possibilities. Many
graduate students will be involved, for whom
there will be good jobs later. Industry also will
benefit tremendously. If industry benefits it
will trickle down to everybody.
Social consequences? There will be
some-there always are with new products.
Society will take care of that. Strictly speaking,
the consequences are not my business. If I were
to worry about the social consequences of new
technologies, I would have no time for anything
else. My job is purely technical and I do it well.
Low Tech: You are not responding to the
problems robotics may present, High Tech. We
are creating a revolution with consequences as
far-reaching as anything the industrial
revolution has seen so far. We are responsible
for it. Who else can be?
Concern: Neither of you is addressing the
specific social consequences bf introducing
robotics to the production process. When
robotics become a reality, this will lead to in-
dustrial unemployment on an unprecedented
scale. And this will lead to a totalitarian
regime ...
High Tech: How come? You are being rash
and irrational.
Concern: Let me explain. If robotics suc-
ceeds, the elimination of jobs on a tremendous
scale will follow us as robotics technology
replaces workers. These jobless workers will
not be absorbed in other industries.
Now when you have 20 to 30 percent of the people
unemployed in the country, you have an enor-
mous legion of frustrated and unhappy citizens.
This will lead to tension and outbursts.
To calm these outsursts, totalitarian controls
will increase bit by bit and we will lose more
and more of our liberties and freedom-for the
sake of law and order. I put it to you, High
Tech, that the coming of a totalitarian regime
is not as rash and irrational as you think. It will
be an inevitable outcome of technology, like
robotics, which we know how to activate, but

High Tech: I don't know how we can take
care of all the potential problems to society
either now or in the future. We are the
technicians, the experts, the inventors. We
bring new goods. Let other people decide about
the social consequences.
In any case, some poeple have to control.
Others have to be controlled. If this new
technology requires a new social structure so
that we can run it smoothly and efficiently,
we'll have to create this new structure.
Progress must not be stopped.

which we do not know how to
benefit of all.

4i

Low Tech: You are talking rubbish, High
Tech. To say that some have to control and
others have to be controlled, sounds like a
fascist kind of ideology which is foreign to the
traditions of this country and has little to do
with the overall benefits of technology. I think
Concern is right. We have to look into the large-
scale social consequences of the robotics
revolution, even if it is painful and difficult to
do.

direct for the

* * * *

High Tech: We are here to talk about
robotics, an exciting new development which
promises so much. I think that we should fully
endorse this development. Through robotics,
we will not only develop new technologies; we
will create new jobs and help the Michigan
economy get back on its feet.
Concern: This is all very true-up to a point.
You talk about new jobs. But which jobs? And
for whom? And at what prices? How many jobs
will we have to eliminate from existing in-
dustries in order to create one new job in
robotics?
Getting the economy on its feet is very im-
portant and an exciting prospect, but aren't we
pipedreaming about robotics? Won't we have
to put in a tremendous amount of moneyfirst,
since robotics is very capital intensive?' Who
will reap the'benefits from it later? No doubt
those who invest the capital. Won't robotics
become another scheme to benefit the rich? Let

Robotics: Harbinger of a totalitarian state?

Concern: As for me, I take robotics quite
seriously. I am already planning to move out of
the United States and settle in a village in a
remote part of Mexico, where I will grow corn
for my tortillas.
This will not be escapism or an irrational
choice, but on the contrary a very rational one.
To live in a totalitarian regime would be the
irrational thing. There is a splendid painting by
the Spanish artist Goya which depicts the
nightmares of reason. des, reason and
rationality have their nightmares. I just hope
(sometimes against hope) that your robotics
revolution will not become a nightmare of
reason.
Skolim owski is a humanities professor
at the University.

me be brief: robotics yes, but for whose
benefit?
Low Tech: There is a germ of truth in what
you both say, but you both exaggerate. I ap-
preciate your concern, Concern, but you put the
whole thing in such perspective it seems you
are against technology. I'm sure you're not. We
have to evolve with technology in order not to
stand still-to stand still is to go backward.
We have to take advantage of new

technologies, particularly with our,industries
in such a slump, the auto industry especially.
Robotics must be given a chance. But you,
High Tech, are jumping too fast. You want to
leap before you look. We must first consider
how robotics will affect society in the long run.
High Tech: This is not my concern. I'm in
charge of this new technology and I'm going to
make it work ! This is my only job.
I say we must jump at this opportunity

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Weasel

Vol. XCII, No. 130

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

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6

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CESF poll:

A measure of discontent

HE UNIVERSITY'S faculty
members want more voice in
:determining their salaries, yet they
aren't ready to unionize in ordertto get
that voice.
That's what a survey conducted by
the Committee, on the Economic Status
:of the Faculty revealed yesterday. The
fervor for forming a union-demon-
Zstrated last term by union petitions
'from two LSA departments- apparen-
tly has died down from lack of broad-
-based support.
However, the administration should
hesitate before it celebrates the fact
-:that the drastic step of unionization is
-not an immediate possibility. Although
the CESF poll shows faculty un-
willingness to try a union "cure" for
salary grievances, all the usual sym-
:ptoms for a possible faculty union
currently are present and still
thriving.
The CESF results may be incon-
-clusive. Only 33 percent of the
:professors polled bothered to answer, a
disturbing example of apathy on the
faculty's part. Those who responded,
however, overwhelmingly agreed that
they were unhappy with last year's
salary distribution. That unhappiness
depended to a large extent on what size
raise a professor received. Twice as
many professors in the bottom end of
the raise scale thought the salary
distribution was unfair as those
professors in the top half of the scale.
This discontent is inherent to the
University's merit-based salary
. ..r mnw ..nminh ,,lric nmP

realizing the current economic bind of
the University, are more worried than
ever on just how much age, teaching
quality, and research activities are
considered when University dollars
are doled out. Some charge the
salaries are awarded on an incon-
sistent, even capricious, set of rules.
It is ironic that the faculty want
more power to control their future
when they are unwilling to unionize-
especially since the two are so in-
timately linked. Collective bargaining
agents at other colleges agree that
professors unionize not to get higher
salaries, but to win power and influen-
ce over the administration. Unions are
born out of feelings of frustration
toward, and impotence over, the ar-
bitrary nature of 'administrative
decisions.
These feelings of helplessnegs mesh
accurately with the current state of the
faculty. More and more University
professors feel their informal influence
over the administration is proving
inadequate. The current discontent
seems a perfect breeding ground for an
adverserial faculty/administration
relationship that may eventually lead
to a union.
The administration should become
more alert to the possibility of a
faculty union. For, unless faculty
members become more influential and
effective in making major policy
decisions, CESF's inconclusive
dissatisfaction is sure to bring more
union talk in the future. Professors
may hp nvin thhd nn't nnt a uninn

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

p

40

Rally peacefully against the neo-Nazis

To the Daily
On March 20 (this Saturday)
the present incarnation of the
Nazi party will make its presence
known in Ann Arbor. Their
avowed intention is to protest
communism. Socially respon-
sible citizens must be aware that
this purpose is farcial and ironic.
The neo-Nazis who will be here
in a few days share the
philosophy of the group respon-
sible for millions of deaths less
than a generation ago. The Ann
Arbor march will "protest" not
only the threat of communism,
but also the threat posed by
homosexuals, liberals, blacks,
Jews, and other groups or in-
dividuals who disagree with Nazi
doctrine. ThW Nazis call for the
destruction of those who do not
subscribe to their beliefs. Their
aim is world domination.
We recognize their right to
march, their freedom of speech,
and their right to assemble
peacefully. These rights are
guaranteed by the U.S. Con-
stitution. It is ironic that a group
such as the Nazis will take advan-
tage of those freedoms in order to

deny others of them.
We do not wish to stop the Nazis
from marching. It is their un-.
deniable right. We oppose their
beliefs, but we will not adopt their
methods..
Their doctrine of hate and tac-
tics of selective destruction are
reprehensible. We urge everyone
in Ann Arbor, everyone who has
some sense of what freedom and
democracy mean, to react to this
parade of injustice.
Confronting the Nazis with a
counter-march, at the same time
and at the same place of their
rally, would be counterproduc-
tive. The possibility of provoked
violence is too great. At Green-
sboro, the Nazis and the Klan
clashed with police and
protesters. Only protesters were
hurt. Only protesters died. The
Nazis and the Klan members are
free. In Southfield, a melee in the
streets left demonstrators
arrested for inciting a riot and
disrupting a peaceful assembly.
The Nazis walked away under
police protection.
A peaceful demonstration is

called for-a mature, rational
response which reflects our belief
in freedom, liberty, and peace. At
1:00 p.m. on March 20 there will
be such a demonstration at
Federal Plaza. We hope to take
the ill wind out of the Nazis' sails.
Mayor Belcher will speak, along
with representatives from the
Southern Christian Leadership
Conference, B'nai B'rith, and
other organizations opposed to
irrational hatred.
This declaration of our love of
life, brotherhood, and freedom is

sponsored by the Committee for
the Affirmation of Human
Dignity and Freedom, the
American Friends Society, B'nai
B'rith, the Michigan Student
Assembly, the Association of
Religious Counselors, and the
Jewish Community Council,
among others.
We urge you to join us this
Saturday. It will be time well
spent. You'll be among friends.
-Kimberly Small
Bruce Goldman
March 16

It's never too late to rush

To the Daily:
I am writing to protest Howard
Witt's repeated condemnation of
the fraternity/sorority system
here on campus. Besides being
institutionalized pseudo-
mutuality, populated with rich,
bigoted, sexist, and insecure
airheads (and those who hanker
after those qualities) I hear
they're really a fun bunch (wit-
ness the mudbowl).
I also hear it's relatively easy

to join up. Just have confidence in
the abilities of the current ad-
ministration, security in the
superiority of the white race and
the males therein, and pretend
that it really matters whether
you wear your ducks or your
dock-siders tonight (gosh, I hope
I spelled those correctly). See? I
think you probably still'have a
shot at rush. Don't delay!
-Patricia Fabrizio
March 9

Wasserman

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