Computer Technology and Employment: Retrospect and Prospect by Stephen G. Peitchinis

By Stephen G. Peitchinis

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An important characteristic of industrialism is specialisation, and an important consequence of specialisation is the emergence of markets. Both have significant implications for the spread of employment 26 Computer Technology and Employment amongst wide-ranging activities. There is no market in self-sufficiency. A market emerges in response to specialisation and the resultant need for exchange- grain for fish, potatoes for corn, beans for butter, medical services for eggs. A market performs two functions: an exchange function, and an allocative function.

Even where the new technology is a fully automated process, requiring of operatives the observation of signals and the pressing of certain keys, the knowledgeable engineer-supervisor is limited in his instructional function to the presentation of signals, signs Evolution, Revolution and Manpower Adjustments 33 and fundamentals: the operatives' effectiveness and efficiency in performance of tasks will be developed by the operatives themselves. In most situations, the effects of technological changes on manpower are akin to plant expansion, and the adjustments required of labour in such instances are akin to in-plant relocation amongst departments and jobs.

Evolution of the Electronic System The electronic revolution started with consumer electronics, in the form of transistor radios, calculators, cassettes and video tape recorders. The widespread, worldwide, use of these products created intense demand for electronic chips, which, in turn, became the technical basis for new electronic products, such as watches, cameras, and electronic games. The second phase of the revolution came with the introduction of computers, initially in data-processing, then in information storage and retrieval, followed by computer-aided design processes, and in more recent times increasingly in information transfer functions.

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