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THE EVOLUTION OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES 33 for at least a decade or two. With the possible exception of integrated optics, during this time evolution is not likely to be dominated by new killer technologies. More likely, the rapid pace of current developments will continue to create ever more favorable economics, and extend the known technologies into new domains. The forces that control the pace of innovation and technology selection are not likely to change substantially unless the restructuring of the telephone industry produces unexpected results or overseas competition forces government action. Good innovations will continue to be rapidly pulled into the market- place. The resulting richness of high-quality, low-cost technology should help create a better society an Information Age with a host of new computing and telecommunications services to make life more pleasant, productive, and interesting. Comments ERNEST S. KUH Professor of Electrical Engineering University of California, Berkeley I would like to begin by proposing a simpleminded model of technology evolution for the mathematically inclined. Using the state-space analogy, which is familiar to most young electrical, mechanical, and aerospace engineers, we may represent the interaction of the four key elements of technology evolution that John Mayo defines: (1) technology base, (2) research and development, (3) sequencing, and (4) standards. In my proposed model, the state of the dynamic system corresponds to the technology base in Dr. Mayo's analysis; the input corresponds to R&D; the dynamics of the system correspond to sequencing; and finally, the set of constraints corresponds to standards. It might be possible then to use this analogy to introduce, for some technologies at least, a quantitative analysis of evolution through the technology gate. Models aside, the second part of Dr. Mayo's presentation gives a brief account of recent and prospective innovation in information processing technology. I would like to respond to that portion of the presentation with three comments. First, that which impresses me the most are advances in lightwave tech- nology. When I worked at Bell Laboratories 30 years ago, I was designing repeaters for submarine cable using vacuum tube technology. The progress made during the last 30 years in transmission is remarkable. Second, the technologies John Mayo did not discuss were such mundane things as the display technology, punters, and workstations. Though these technologies already play a major role in today's markets, I believe that their importance to scientific and engineering research and development to the evolution of information technology will be profound. The synergy between
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34 JOlINS. MAYO new technologies and research is immense. Just imagine that many engineers and graduate students will have at their desks the immense computation power, the convenience in communication of their ideas to co-workers, perhaps across the continent, and the luxury of observing three-dimensional color pictures to enhance their intuition. There is no question but that research and development will dramatically benefit from technological advance. Third, Dr. Mayo did not say too much about universities. We all know the fundamental contributions made by the universities: the birth of computers, the start of artificial intelligence, the advances in very large scale integration (VLSI), and the excellent work in computer-aided design in microelectronics. Universities will continue to play a major role in the evolution of information technologies; the combination of experts- some of the best minds in the fieldó and young graduate students has proven to be a powerful force in basic research. As educators we have the responsibility to organize our institutions to preserve our strength in basic research and, in addition, to collaborate with industry for creative exploratory development. It is interesting to note that in almost all areas Dr. Mayo touched upon, there exist physical limits, if research continues with the present mode of operation, strategy, or materials. That is why scientific research, and especially basic engineering research, is so crucial to us in order to make major breakthroughs. We at universities and in research centers should keep our goals high and far ahead in order not to fall into the trap of only working on problems of immediate application. While working closely with industry is crucial, we must maintain a balance, for our main aim is still to develop fundamental knowledge that will then lead to major breakthroughs. In some areas it will be difficult for even major universities to keep ahead of industry because of the enormous cost of equipment and facilities. However, I believe there is a way out if we compare what we are facing now with physics research after the Second World War. Major research centers were created to fill this need. Engineering research centers, recently proposed by the National Science Foundation, are only a beginning. Certainly, many areas of high technology the fifth generation of computers, the next phase of microelectronics research, and the flexible manufacturing system, for exam- ple~ould benefit from major research centers associated with universities. It is up to us, in conjunction with the government and industry? to see to it that we have the research base we need. John Mayo has laid the technological base for us by giving us a model for thinking about technological evolution and by providing an overview of information technologies and where they are headed. We must, of course, be interested in the implications of the Information Age on lives of nonprofes- sionals and workers in general, as well as in potential harms caused by the information technology, for example, the problem of invasion of privacy.
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