United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the.

The Industrial reorganization act. Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session [-Ninety-fourth Congress, first session], on S. 1167 (Volume pt. 7) online

. (page 20 of 140)
Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on theThe Industrial reorganization act. Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session [-Ninety-fourth Congress, first session], on S. 1167 (Volume pt. 7) → online text (page 20 of 140)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Mr Chairman. Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening. It is my distinct pleasure
and honour to have been invited by Professor John Bennett to be here this
evening to deliver this feature lecture and to participate in the sixth meeting of
the Australian Computer Society.

Some years ago. a panel of judges was formed and asked to identify those
people who they thought were most influential in shaping the world we live in.
They deliberated for some time and concluded that there were four individuals



5047

who they felt most influenced the shape of the world we live in. These were
Charles Darwin, for his theory of ev( lution ; Albert Einstein, for his theory of
relativity, Sigmund Freud, for his work in psychoanalysis ; and Karl Marx, for
introducing communism. There is a very powerful message in the selection of
these men : they were all creators of concepts, they were not conquerors, not
rulers, not warriors, not inventors ; from which I think we can determine that
concepts are the most important matters that we deal with. Clearly ideas are the
most ix>tent influence that shape the future of civilisation.

It has been asked whether or not the electronic ditigal computer is such a
concept or idea. I think that the computer is a very powerful influence, but history
will have to assess its influence in shaping our world.

It has helped us create new languages, new social structures, new communica-
tion methods, and new ways in which we can live together. It is truly changing
much of society as we know it. But as we evaluate the electronic computer today
it has to be considex-ed an invention, not an idea. And as an invention it will cer-
tainly rank with Marconi's telegraph, Alexander Graham Bell's telephone and
the Wright brothers' airplane.

It is my intention here this evening to subdivide this lecture into three parts.
First, to focus on the historical perspective of technology and try to understand
some of these implications. Second, to illustrate by example the changes in our
way of life that we may anticipate — or that we may have already experienced —
that have been brought about as a result of computer technology. And third, to
examine the sociological implications and the changes in the quality of life that
information technology may cause.

Figure 1 is a graph of the world's population. The point of considerable interest
is the shape of the curve, an exponential curve — one that I am going to ask you
to observe in the next series of flgures. Notice that by 1950 there were about
two and one-half billion people on earth ; now there are about three and a third
billion people and by the year 2000, there will be six billion people.

Figure 2 shows the increase in the speed of travel through time from 1400 to
2000. Observe that until 1850, man moved on the face of the earth at about
three to five miles per hour. By 1900 the automobile was available and man could
move l)etween 50 to 60 miles per hour. That's an order of magnitude, or a factor
of 10, difference in the speed at which man moved over the surface of the earth.
By the year 1950 man was moving between 500 to 600 miles per hour. It's of
interest to observe that an order of magnitude quantitative change in technology
can make a qualitative change in tlie life style we enjoy. Note that there were
two orders of magnitude change in the speed of transportation by the year 1950.
and in fact another is already technologically possible through the use of manned
satellites.

In the field of communications, particularly telephones, see figure 3 which is
another exponential curve showing the total number of telephones used in the
United States alone, and will approacli 176 million telephones by 1985. This is
about one phone for every i>erson over 10 years old.

Figure 4 is a bar chart showing the intervals between discovery and applica-
tion in a physical science. The uppermost bar shows photography which took 112
years between discovery and application. The X-ray tube took 18 years, the
transistor 5 years, solar battery 2 years. The interval continues to shrink, and
the time compression between discovery and application is decreasing
exponentially.

Now let me repeat my first thesis that an order of magnitude quantitative
change in technology can yield a qualitative change in the quality of life. We
can readily reflect on the changes in life style and the quality of life during the
past 200 years as a result of the changes in transportation technology. We are
currently experiencing changes in life as a result of the telephone, radio, and
television. Changes may also be ob.served resulting from other technological
advances.

According to the National Education Association, the exponential growth of
man's knowledge is as shown in figure 5 plotted as a circle in which the area of
the circle is proportional to the growth of man's knowledge. Man's knowledge at
the time of Christ was not doubled until 1750. But the second doubling was com-
pleted 150 years later in 1900, and the fourth doubling of all man's knowledge
took place in the decade of the 1950's. Figure 6 shows the same infonnation
plotted as a bar chart, and tlie conventional exponential curve is again recog-
nizable. One may further observe that technology has multiplied by 10 every 50
years over the past 2,800 years.



5048

The growth of the scientific manpower shown in figure 7 is linear over the
past 150 years, which further accentuates the exponential changes scientists
have wrought in advancing technology.

Let us now move closer to the main theme of this paper- — information tech-
nology. Three disciplines are involved in information technology : computer
technology, communications and information (see figure 8). The first, computer
technology, consists of those devices relating to computer systems such as
central processing units, memory devices, peripheral devices; and input/output
systems such as keyboards, optical character readers and graphics.

The discipline of communications shown by the second circle is illustrated by
teletyi>e, telephone, radio, cable and satellite. The technological area common
to these two disciplines — computer technology and communications — will prove
to be one of the most fruitful that man has been involved with for quite some
time. Communications and computer technology are growing so close together
and are so mutually influential that it is going to be difficult to consider them as
separate entities. This area includes such activitie.'s as time sharing systems,
remote terminals and communicating computers.

Looking next at the third discipline, information, the basic technologies are
human language, linguistics, logic and applied mathematics. The common area
with the discipline of computer technology results in systems theory, meta-
language, machine language, system analysis and operations research. The activ-
ities in the area common to the three circles or disciplines result in the knowl-
edge explosion and activities iiertaining to governance, regulations, and stand-
ardi^tion.

Having now more clearly defined the field of information technology and the
critical role of the computer, it is pertinent to examine the rate of growth of this
new technology. In figure 9 which plots the worldwide computer market for
U.S. based manufacturers from 1955 to 1975, there are two groups of curves,
the upper i>air pertaining to general purpose computers, and the lower i>air per-
taining to minicomputers and dedicated application computer systems. The upper
curves, one for cumulative number of computers installed reaching about 150
thousand units installed in 1975 and the other for cumulative dollars, are both
exponential in .shape. In recent years with the development of integrated circuits
there has been a fantastic growth of a very small or minicomputer ; the lower
curves show the number of units of minicomputers rapidly appi-oaching the
160,000 mark by 1975. But note the dotted line in the lower right-1 .nd comer
which is the dollar value of installed minicomputers. This anomaly is the
driving economic force that is bringing about an even more rapid adoption of
computers into hundreds of new fields.

Not only is the number of minicomputers continuing to increase exponentially,
but with the cost decreasing exponentially there will be an intensification of
the forces for change. Each new minicomputer is available at a fraction of the
cost of tho.se that were installed in the early days and this cost reduction will
continue for some time particularly as minicomputers reach the market in large
numbers.

Figure 10 shows cost of minicomputers decreasing exponentially going down to
under $1,000 by 1980. In addition to these projections, microcomputers are fore-
casted to cost about $.50 in less than 10 years.

Over the past twenty-five years, the main memory capacity available to large
computers has gone up exponentially. Figure 11 shows the rate of increase of
main memories to date. It is anticipated that it will increase by at least two
orders of magnitude during the next ten years.

The reduction in computation cost for a computer with 10,000 operations per
second capacity is .shown in figure 12. This is a measure of the cost effective-
ness of computers. These are the fundamental factors that lead me to the basic
position regarding the direction in which the whole information revolution is
moving.

With this introduction, we should now all be on the same wave length, as far
as the growth of the industry, the increase in the capacity of minicomputers
and their significant decrease in cost are concerned. Now let's proceed one step
beyond and examine the hand-held calculator — that has experienced an explo-
sive growth. In the year 1972, about half a million hand-held calculators were
f'Old throughout the world. In tlie year 1973. over 10 million were sold ; this year
there will be at least a fifty percent increase in that number to something like
15 million hand-held cauculators. All of this has been made possible as a result
of the ability to manufacture very complex electronic circuits on chips of silicon



5049

or magnetic oxide material smaller than the size of the nail on your little finger.
The cost of these chips is obviously extremely modest as reflected directly in the
cost for calculators. The impact of the hand-held calculator has been rather dra-
matic due to very widespread acceptance as a result of its low cost and size.
School teachers in the United States are pleading with parents not to let their
children borrow the hand-held calculator to do their homework because they
find the children are not learning arithmetic, particularly multilpication and
division. There are those who ask whether it is necessary to memorize the multi-
plication tables? Why do so when a device so easily portable is available to do
multiplication and division, at a co.st of $25 or less. Is it necessary to even be
bothered learning arithmetic? These are some of the questions that are beginning
to challenge educators as the tremendous impact of this one aspect of computer
technology is felt around the world.

Let us return to the mainstream of this lecture and the impact of mini- and
microcomputer technology on society. In November 1973, minicomputers were
being produced at the rate of 2800 per month. It is forecast that within five years
thev will be produced at a rate of in excess of 10,000 per month. These mini-
computers are going to be significantly different from the general purpose com-
puters referred to earlier. They are going to be predominantly specialized appli-
cation devices whose function will be dedicated to one puri>ose. The microcom-
puter with 4.000 words of memory is selling today for under $900 and by the end
of this decade, will be manufactured for less than $50.

One must fully understand the power and utility of these microcomputers, and
their very low cost to appreciate the future. When it is recognized that these
microcomputers equipped with a cathode-ray screen and keyboard will cost about
the same as a television set or less, then the kinds of applications possible come
into sharper focus. This is no longer a change in degree, but a radical change in
the kinds of applications for computers in the future. Here I would like to develop
some verbal pictures of some of these applications that either have already been
proven or that will be developed with such rapidity that three years from now,
they will be history. Certainly before the end of this decade many of these appli-
cations will be taken for granted.

People have talked for a long time about using minicomputers in their own
homes. What can you do with one, is the question. Well let's start by evaluating
its use in the field of education. Ten years ago a device called a teaching machine
was introduced to the market. Professor B. F. Skinner of Harvard fathered some
of these ideas. There was a plethora of such devices, some very crude and fre-
quently unsuccessfully programmed, that were supposed to enable us to learn
more rapidly and more easily. The process was not fully understood and the
programs were poor— the product failed. However, with a microcomputer that
can control the teaching process and by perfecting the programs which may be
inserted on simple tape cassettes, this can be an accepted method of teaching.
For everyday reference for the student and all in the household, add to that the
availability of an updatable electronic encyclopedia that can do searching for ap-
propriate material on a subject.

Minicalculator.s. not just hand-held but rather complex ones, are going to be
available to assist in such things as tax returns, shopping lists, keeping track of
things to do. investments, receipts, and diets. The whole field of word processing,
now just embryonic, is going to become an accepted technique. It should be pos-
sible to plug a special electric typewriter into the microcomputer and perform
functions only sophisticated office equipment can do now.

What about the field of entertainment? The minicomputer and the micro-
computer in your TV set will enable you to play games such as ping pong,
bridge, chess, etc. Personalized data banks and reference services will be avail-
able to ascertain weather, news, stock quotations, and not the least, keep track of
the value of your portfolio. These are some of the things that can happen within
the next eight years by having a microcomputer terminal at home.

Let us turn to the field of transportation and examine the possible impact
of the minicomputer or microcomputer. Dr. Charles T. Helvey of the University
of Tennessee has created a very interesting scenario. He states that the goal
of traffic control is to move automobiles at the maximum speed, at maximum
safety at minimum cost. With that as the goal it is proposed that eacli indi-
vidual will have his automobile pretested annually to determine its performance
characteristics with an optimum driver. The automobile will then be rated. Each
person will also be tested to determine skill and response times. These facts will
be stored about the driver in a plastic card — about the car in the memorv of



5050

its microcomputer. As the car is driven, the microcomputer will be fed data from
sensors on the road bed, the steering wheel, gas and brake pedal, to track the
performance of the car, the driver and road conditions.

Before the car can be started, the card must be inserted into a slot in the
car which will then read the data from the card into the microcomputer ; and
if this is not done, it will not start. Depending upon the state of fatigue or
inebriation of the driver and his response time in controlling the car, the
performance of the system (the car. the driver and road conditions) will be
matched against the limits present within the minicomputer. If the computer
indicates abnormal performance for the driving speed, a flashing light will go
on in the car which will also be visible to other automobiles so that the drivers
can take defensive measures. The police can also note the flashing light if the
speed of the car and its control are not brought into balance. You can rest
assured that a traffic ticket will be issued and restrictions imposed.

I wonder how many of us are aware of the role that fractional horsepower
motors play in our lives. This invention is over 25 years old. Did you know that
in some of the more modern-equipped automobiles there are over 25 fractional
horsepower motors? That you can now brush your teeth with a fractional horse-
power motor, or shave, or beat eggs, or open cans or your garage door? The list
can go on for thousands of such things. The house is literally filled with frac-
tional horsepower motors, and yet none of us gives the first thought to the
fact that 20 years ago they hardly were used or that we are, in fact, using a
motor; we just take them for granted. Thi.s happened becau.se of the great
decrease in the manufacturing cost of fractional horsepower motors. I predict
that within 20 years the microcomputer will similarly involve itself in our lives,
in almost anything and everything we do to an extent that is beyond my
imagination to forecast.

Let us look at other examples that should be of particular interest here in
Australia where the subject of health care is so vital and such an important
part of your government's activities. A newspaper reported on a fascinating
experiment conducted at Harvard and M.I.T. on a protocol system for diagnosis.
Although the methodology need not use a computer, it was the computer that
triggered the development and, in fact, can easily be used to monitor and extend
the technique. The doctors have developed a step-by-step logical approach to
learning about a particular medical ailment which, if systematically followed, can
lead to a correct diagnosis. A simple questionnaire has been developed and tested
using nurses, military medics and even minimally trained paramedicals to diag-
nose and prescribe for certain common medical problems with accuracy, safety
and patient satisfaction. It is used primarily for complaints such as coughs, sore
throats, vaginal infections and back pains, and such chronic conditions as diabetes,
hypertension, and follow-up treatments in pregnancy. The form, rarely more than
a single printed page, asks for specific symptoms and medical history to be noted,
then specific physical examinations are made based on the checklists and lab
tests recommended. The form is a simple, easy to follow chart with yes-no an-
swers. The response ot one question, in fact, dictates the next question. This
logically structured data collection technique and eventual diagnosis is completely
individualized. A printed card orders the type of action for each patient, initiates
tests, or prescribes specific medication or treatment or a referral to a doctor.

Doctors have been routinely checking the protocol with the patients before
they leave to make sure that all the steps have been followed with no unusual
danger signals being ignored. The time-saving is tremendous. The Harvard/
M.I.T. team reports that 75% of the patients examined by protocol by nurses
for respiratory .symptoms were treated and sent home without ever being seen
by a doctor ; likewise, with over 80% of the women with vaginal complaints. Most
any intelligent, thorough, warm person, even one without prior health experience,
seems able to administer the protocol, and the diagnosis seems to be extremely
accurate and the prescriptions highly effective.

In the field of electrocardiography much progress has been made. The electro-
cardiograph measurements may be fed into a computer and the wave patterns
can be interpreted and diagnoses indicated quite frankly better than by the
average doctor. Of potentially greater interest is the ability to identify cardiac-
prone patients. Many of us know people who, having just left the doctor's office
where an electrocardiogrp.ni was taken, die within a few days of heart failure.
Why could the doctor not identify these symptoms? It may now be possible using
a computer. By programming the computer to be over-selective it can find devia-
tions in cardiograms which may not normally be detected by the naked eye.



5051

Research studies have shown that a computer can identify those who have a
high predisposition to future coronary and arterial diseases.

In the field of tumor treatment much has already been achieved. The Washing-
ton University hospital in .St. Louis has been xising a computer to prescribe radia-
tion treatment for at least six years. The goal is to maximize the dosage in the
organ that is afflicted and minimize the damaging exposure to the skin and other
muscles around the area by a series of multiple exposures at different angles to
the body, radiation area, exposure time, and radioactive strength rather than a
broader single exposure as was done in the past.

In the field of intensive care it is possible to connect a patient to a computer
monitor that would be more effective than dependence on observation by avail-
able nursing staff. The condition of the patient in the intensive care unit is fol-
lowed by constant electronic monitoring of multiple physiological parameters
such as pulse, blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, re.spiration rate, and
oxygen rate. In an uncomputerized intensive care unit, the evaluation and the
importance of changes of these various measurements, individually, and as
related to each other, may often take time ; time that is crucial in the care of the
patient. In computer-monitored intensive care unit, the very subtle equilibrium
beween these various factors is expressed mathematically as input into the com-
puter, and the slightest deviation is often detected before a critical symptom is
even visible.

The administrative services of a hospital entail a large amount of scheduling
and clerical work. One must allocate the resources of rooms available for special
types of treatment, deal with the complexity of locating patients who may be
moved from room to room in the hospital, provide for the sequence of the patient's
treatment, time of admission, time of discharge, and countless other details. A
record of patient movement throughout the hospital is easily stored in a computer
and determination for various treatments, medication, and other records enables
significant improvement in the administration of the complex, modern hospital.
A daily census, carried out at midnight when mobility is at a minimum, gives
the location and status of each bed and each patient in the hospital. All clinical
investigations and laboratory results for a particular day or period may then be
entered into a patient's record for examination by the doctor first thing in the
morning. This is accomplished by locating minicomputer-controlled remote print-
ers at each major nursing station, avoiding the uncertainties of mail delivery. The
complete computer storage of the patient's total medical history is important in
prescribing treatment and is readily accessible through computerized files.

Let us probe into a totally different area— that of distribution. Last week, in
the United States, a major step was taken to expedite the automation of food
check-out in supermarkets. Manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of food
products have finally agreed on a universal product code. Each product will be
identified Ijy a ten-bar code. P'^ve of the bars identify the manufacturer and five
identify the product. By the end of this year, more than half of all the manu-
facturers of food products in the United States will have this ten-bar code
inscribed on the food packages. It will no longer be necessary to stamp the price
on a product to be read by the checkout clerk. The price will be posted in the
front of the shelf from which you select the product. As the bar code is exposed to
an electronic reader or an electronic wand, the computer will look up in its
memory the current price for that product. A printout will be prepared that will
list the product name, the price and the total. This will enable the shopper to
vertify what was purchased and. if desired, do comparison shopping on a week-
to-week basis. It is claimed that this will yield 60 to 70 percent speedup in checkout
process and eliminate the hand stamping of each product with its price. Not
only will this method achieve a long-sought-after goal, but also inventorv control
and reordering can now be automatic because the sales data can be "captured
within the computer. Sales analysis, location analysis, and many other mangement



Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on theThe Industrial reorganization act. Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session [-Ninety-fourth Congress, first session], on S. 1167 (Volume pt. 7) → online text (page 20 of 140)