Technical progress and social development

Technical progress and social development

876 CURRENT TOPICS. [J. F. I. were of the automatic-control type, but in every subsequent year the proportion accounted for b y this type increased...

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876

CURRENT TOPICS.

[J. F. I.

were of the automatic-control type, but in every subsequent year the proportion accounted for b y this type increased, so that by 1929 more than one-fifth were of the controlling type, and by I935 about one-third of all instruments sold were automatic cofitrollers. Half the new instruments placed on the market in 1934-37 were controllers. However, m a n y new industries and older industries whose basic production methods have undergone a major change depend upon instruments for their existance and smooth operation. Some chemical industries, for example, are founded on processes which could not be used on a commercial basis without instruments adapted to accurate measurement and maintenance of operating conditions. Thus, although industrial instruments have in some instances served to displace labor, they have also played an important role in the development of such new servies or products as air conditioning, radio, plastics, automobiles, and airplanes. R. H. O.

Technical Progress and Social Development.--K. T. COMPTON. Vol. 5 8, No. I.) Technology has made enormous contributions to modern society, but there still remain m a n y aspects of the influence of technical progress upon social development which challenge attention. Four of these are discussed briefly. (I) T h e Bogy of Technological Unemployment. When industry is observed as a whole, technological u n e m p l o y m e n t is a myth, because statistics show no decrease of the gainfully employed in which machine production has become important. In individual instances it m a y be a very serious social problem and here, two principles should be guiding. Improved products and services should not be stopped to protect any entrenched business or any group of workers. T h e change should be made in a manner to afford generous protection to the workers affected by it. Various methods are available for reducing the shock of technological changes. (2) Technological Progress and Culture. In discussing the influence of technical progress upon social development there is a natural tendency to emphasize only the material products of technology, forgetting that social development is more an intellectual and spiritual than a material process, and overlooking the influence of technology on the cultural aspects of society. In this sense technology has provided additional tools for the disposal of man, and has afforded the necessary time and facilities for cultural development. T o some extent these opportunities have been utilized advantageously but their fuller use is a challenge to management as well as to education and religion. (3) The New Demands on Technology. Better technical development and better management can realize work for the unem-

(Electrical Engineering,

June, 1939.]

CURRENT TOPICS.

877

ployed, profits for industry, new uses for agricultural products, wise use of natural resources, curtailment of natural hazards, better health and comfort, etc. (4) Principles of Management. Experience, logic, and human psychology all support the view that the type of m a n a g e m e n t is most likely to be successful in the long run which directs and inspires but does not too rigidly control, which offers large opportunity for initiative and for criticism, and which has faith in the mass judgment of an intelligent group and in the genius which m a y appear in unexpected quarters. R. H. O.

Federal Chemists Produce l~loncrystallizing Rosin.--Production of a new noncrystallizing gum rosin has been announced by the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils of the U. S. D e p a r t m e n t of Agriculture. T h e new product, a natural rosin obtained from pine gum, does not crystallize in ordinary usage. Crystallization of rosin is a serious problem as it makes the use of rosin objectionable in some industries, particularly those making adhesives, core oil, soap, and paper size. Crystallized rosin reacts slowly with alkali and other materials and forms a granulated product instead of the smooth soapy emulsion desired. Even rosin that has a latent tendency to crystallize m a y be undesirable. T h e new rosin is made only from the liquid part of the gum. Its preparation is based on a recent finding by Bureau chemists that the seml-solid mass which forms when the gum is allowed to stand contains most of the crystallizable material. This mass is removed from the liquid part by straining or filtering through a light-weight muslin cloth. T h e straining takes from 24 to 48 hours as it must be done entirely by gravity. Pressure filters cannot be used as the high pressure would cause the semisolid crystalline mass to liquefy and mix again with the noncrystalline liquid. The straining removes the crystalline part of the resin, and also cleans the rosin by removing chips, bark, and finely suspended particles. Semiplant scale tests have shown that production of the new rosin is commercially feasible. A pul~lic-service patent covering the new product has been applied for. R. H. O. Wood Waste Used for Marketable Plastics.--Sawdust and other wood w a s t e - - o f t e n a disposal problem and of little value to the mill o p e r a t o r - - m a y find a profitable use as the basis of a cheap and sturdy plastic material which m a y be made into m a n y useful and attractive articles. At the Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wis., scientists of the U. S. Forest Service have developed and patented for public service a process for converting the waste into a