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The international implications of new telecommunications technology

Ditchley Conference Report No. 1/1982

A report on the Ditchley Conference of 5-7 February, 1982.

by Janet Morgan

There was something very peculiar about this conference, something hard to pin down but, once it is understood, perfectly obvious. It had to do with the nature of the subject we were discussing - advances in technology that are so far-reaching, all-pervasive and unpredictable that they will change, indeed, are changing, every aspect of our lives. With such a theme it was inevitable that our thoughts and remarks would take wing and our proceedings become extremely abstract and speculative. So they did but - and this was what was so extraordinary - few conferences can have been at the same time so down-to-earth and hard­headed. This, again, arose from the nature of the subject itself. Though we were trying to consider policies and trends, the reactions of societies and peoples, we were always brought back to 'stuff: the actual technology which is making old policies obsolete and new ones feasible, once probable trends unlikely and surprising ones possible, which obliges us to think about societies and peoples in different ways because it challenges customary definitions and laughs at national boundaries.

There were at this conference, too, a good many realists - engineers, scientists and businessmen, men and women interested as much in applications as in theories - and they were quite ready to demolish each other's entrenched positions, explode preconceived ideas and disperse vague prognostications, by pointing out that the new technology now permits this or that to be done which could not be done before, or might do so in the near future but only under certain conditions. It was a stimulating discussion, visionary yet practical, creative but sensible.

This was obvious from the very beginning. Participants had arrived excited and obsessed by several important decisions that had been taken a mere week or so earlier: in America the dropping of the Depart­ ment of Justice's suit against IBM and the settlement of the suit against AT & T, whereby the company was to divest itself of its local operating companies; and in Britain the Government 's decision to grant a licence to a consortium for the launching of Project Mercury, a business service that would directly challenge the British Telecom telecommunications monopoly. Furthermore, members of the conference were very conscious that more announcements were imminent, concerning, for instance, the responsibilities of the American Federal Communications - Commission for granting licences for local television stations, the principles on which satellite transponders should be allocated, alterations in the nature and authority of British Telecom, proposals for laying extensive and sophisticated cable networks nationwide, Government attitudes towards proposals for systems of direct broadcasting by satellite, and so forth.

Such decisions carried momentous implications for the ways in which many of the members of this conference conducted their business and their research, for the nature of every one of their own institutions and the relations between them, so it was not surprising that a good many people came to Ditchley perplexed, defensive and clutching some emotional and intellectual baggage. Some of those accustomed to the operation of a national monopoly were not unnaturally disposed to suspect the consequences of the erosion of such monopoly; those who had thrived in competitive markets were apprehensive lest their freedom be curbed by governments anxious to protect standards, quality, public service broadcasting and the like. Those interested in the future of the developing countries feared that the aggressive policies of advanced countries might undermine their own infant information industries; those from advanced industrialised countries were worried about Japan.

In a most ingenious fashion, participants were induced to put much of that luggage aside. Instead of opening with a discussion in which members of the conference voiced their doubts and fears, we began with two clear and detailed presentations describing the present state of the new telecommunications technology and some recent dramatic applications. The convergence of devices and techniques used in telecommunications and computing has resulted in a new technology, known by a variety of names: 'information technology' in Britain, 'compunications' (unhappily) in some quarters of the United States, 'telematique' in France, and, the usage we will adopt here, 'tele­matics'.

Advances in the design, manufacture and application of microprocessors have helped to make devices for storing, processing, transmitting and displaying data that are very cheap, very fast, very small and very clever. And such data is handled by both communications and computing devices in the same form: digital form. Words, pictures, sounds are coded in to a stream of signals, on/off, 1/0, yes/no, for the equipment to deal with; they are decoded into 'analogue' form once more when the work has been done. The fact that communications and computing devices now act in such similar ways means that they can be made compatible, that they can be combined in ways that were previously unheard of. The typewriter, for instance, may be linked with the computer to make a word processor, and with a printer, too; the telephone may be connected to a television to produce viewdata; a satellite and a powerful computer may be brought together to form a sophisticated machine for processing information about the oceans, crops, mineral reserves, weapons systems, patterns of habitation and such like, all gathered by remote sensors.

Some of these technological advances have led to a dramatic fall in costs, not just in hand-held pocket calculators and word processors but, for example, in very large computers. Others have allowed us to make better use of scarce resources:  radio frequencies, orbital slots, satellite and cable capacity. But members of the conference were reminded that, even so, at any one moment telecommunications resources are ultimately limited. The radio frequency spectrum is not wide enough for everyone's demands; there are only so many spaces for satellites in the Earth's geostationary orbit. Although fibre optic cable might carry innumerable channels for communications into and out of homes and offices, there may even be limits to the number of holes that can be dug under the road. Decisions must be made as to how orbital slots and transponders will be allocated between countries and within countries, between private and public enterprise, how investment will be financed, whether ownership of the means of communications is divorced from control of the content of what is carried, whether there will be patterns of cross-subsidy between services and between areas that are difficult and expensive to supply and those that are easier and cheaper.

Then there is another, very important characteristic of the new technology. It is based on systems. As members of the conference were told, one of the most astonishing systems in the world is the universal numbering plan for telephones. Matters have been so arranged that every single telephone on the globe might call whichever other telephone the caller chooses: messages are sent from one specific machine to another specific machine (unlike, say, a unit of electricity, destined for any appliance, not just one particular washing machine or conveyor belt). To ensure that such a system operates at all, there need to be precise standards of equipment, protocols for its use, common signals for identification, and so on. There must be generally approved conventions not just for the world­wide use of and access to such equipment but also for establishing and approving those standards, protocols and conventions. Common interest has ensured that, hitherto, international agreement has been reached, if not always easily, on issues ranging from the universal numbering plan for telephones (and, indeed, international postal rates) to the allocation and use of radio frequencies and orbital slots. Conventions and treaties ensure that what is a global system is not upset by deliberate or unthinking abuse by one participant. Much of the negotiation required to reach such agreements and to bring them periodically up to date has rested with engineers, who are not only expert in the highly technical intricacies of the subject but are also used to thinking in terms of systems. But this is changing. How and why?

Let us take four examples, each of which was, among many others, presented to the conference in its opening sessions. Take, first, the use to which satellite broadcasting can be put. Indonesia, for instance, a country made up of thousands of islands, is now connected by a domestic telephone service using satellite communication, which is easier, cheaper, more efficient and altogether feasible in a way it has never been before. This has revolutionised the social and economic life of that country: living outside the major cities or the principal islands is no longer so harsh, education and entertainment are available to people in the more remote places, the autonomy - not always beneficial - of local political leaders has been eroded, a country is aware of itself. Improved communication, as a recent study of the Kenyan economy has shown, can dramatically enhance the economic performance of developing countries. They can transform everyday life as much as the provision of pure water and assured food supplies can do. Indeed, they can assist the allocation and perpetuation of such basic supplies; a modern telecommunications system is not a superfluous luxury. No wonder that representatives of every country are anxious to have access to new telecommunications services. But it is not only slots, transponders and frequencies that are limited; so are the resources for making use of them, and many developing countries are not yet in a position to take advantage of the advanced technology that the developed countries enjoy. Such issues are subject of heated debate and this is not a discussion which now is, or can be, left to the expertise and camaraderie of engineers. Politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers and entrepreneurs have joined in.

Next, take the question of the transmission of data across national boundaries. This is nothing new: letters, bills, banknotes, newspapers, books and so on have been going to and fro for centuries. What has changed is that the speed, ease and cheapness with which data can be transferred allows material to be collected in one place, stored in another, processed elsewhere, and so on. 'Information' is moved around just as more tangible, visible commodities are transported. The services that have grown up in the 'information industries' - collecting, sorting, matching, abstracting, presenting, etcetera - are as much a source of revenue and employment as the transport and supply of goods. Governments and industries have become equally touchy about them, with some anxious for free trade and others demanding protection. This, again, is matter for the politicians, the entrepreneurs, the civil servants and the lawyers.

The third example concerns the content of such data and the use to which sophisticated technology can be put. One debate results from the fact that the new telecommunications technology ignores national boundaries and that it can carry into the territory of a country or a region messages that may not be entirely welcome to its inhabitants, or to their rulers. It is not just the developing countries, fearful of Western 'cultural pollution' and of the spread of what are held to be ill­ informed or deliberately biassed attitudes to the Third World, who complain of such invasion. The governments of developed countries, too, are increasingly troubled at the irrelevance of existing national law, custom and practice to keep out broadcasting by satellite or cable which they regard as undesirable. As well as trying to keep some broadcasting out, there are governments which are trying to keep other sorts of information within their national boundaries. They are eager to preserve jobs and to build up their infant information industries by ensuring that as much material as possible is processed within their own domestic economy. Such protectionist moves are deplored by those who regret any efforts to put obstacles in the way of the transmission of data across national borders and they are joined by those who maintain that, provided the technical constraints allow unfettered broadcasting without mutual interference (a major proviso, as Italy's experience with private television broadcasting stations demonstrates all too plainly), there should be as little restraint as possible in international broadcasting and 'narrowcasting.' Both groups are talking about freedom of communication. But there is an intellectual and political snag. For the second debate resulting from telematics' disrespect for national borders, concerns privacy and its protection - the privacy both of individuals, whose records may, without the appropriate safeguards, be transmitted without permission all over the place, items of information being matched with other items so that the person in question is fair game for anything from a pestering mail-order company to inquisitive journalists or malevolent  authorities, and the  privacy of entire countries, within whose borders remote-sensing satellites may unrestrainedly peer. Can we have freedom on the one hand and restriction on the other? Considering these issues and reconciling these paradoxes is undoubtedly a task for more than engineers.

Last, let us consider a more domestic example of the sort of conflict to which the new technology gives rise. It concerns the apparatus and services which a telecommunications supplier will make available within a country. Where the provision of telecommunications equipment makes such a dramatic impact on the fortunes of a country or on the lives of its individual inhabitants and where people see and want new services, what are to be the principles and priorities for introducing them? Should the supply of a basic universal telephone service be the preliminary goal and should this be confined to a statutory monopoly supplier, the better to enable the government to spread costs and pursue what are partly social ends? And what is a 'basic' service? Quite apart from the issue of whether or not it should embrace the provision of certain attachments - plug-in sockets, a recording machine, and the like - there are questions of general efficiency - and, as the technology advances, of its ability is carry data at high speeds. If a telephone exchange repeatedly delivers wrong numbers, if at night or during a public holiday a customer cannot have faulty equipment repaired, the 'basic' service looks pretty hollow. Is there a point at which it is beneficial to introduce competition into the development, supply and maintenance of services, in everything from the telephone and its attachments to the laying of cable and the provision of television programmes? In any case, as the convergence of technologies brings services such as these together, does the existence of competition in one sector inevitably require competition in the others? These, too, are questions with which engineers, however talented, should not be the only ones to deal.

These four examples served to remind the conference of the complicated agenda ahead and of the fact that, whatever we have been accustomed to, the nature of the new technology provokes us into thinking afresh. It was to these sorts of questions, then, that the Conference's three discussion groups proceeded to address themselves.

The social dimensions.    One group set about considering the implications of telematics upon society generally; they first looked at the likely pace of change. Although the rate at which applications of the new technology are introduced, and jettisoned, is fast and heady, we are really talking about the adaptive capacity of human beings, about an evolutionary change that depends upon human, not technological, generations. Children now at school are learning to be excited about and comfortable with telematics. It takes some twelve and a half years for them to reach adult life, so it is not until the end of the century that we can expect thoroughly changed attitudes to prevail. In the meantime there will be a good deal of dabbling and experiment. New products, especially those devices which do not fulfil an obvious need, will be tested by consumers to discover their value and convenience. Fashion, as well as actual utility, is important in changing existing habits.

It is on work, leisure and education that telematics is already having the most visible effect and it is in the first of these spheres - employment - that change is most greatly feared. Certainly the cumulative effects of the new technology will be dramatic, not least on the nature of work and the authority and prestige attached to different types of employment. Telematics reverses the effects of the Industrial Revolution, which separated the home and the workplace. It makes it possible for people to work in decentralised, small work places or, if they wish, at home. What they do is changing too: instead of, say, eight-hour shifts at a particular job, tasks will be packaged, so that the employee at his or her work-station is processing work in batches, for 'uploading' to the next stage. Payment will not be by the hour but by the batch - a return, in fact, to piecework, or, as one speaker put it, 'cafeteria work'.

These developments accelerate the division of the employed into two sectors. On the one hand there are the designers, creators, analysts, performers, working at their own pace, where they choose, at varied and discrete packets of tasks. On the other there are those who manufacture commodities, the 'blue collar' workers of today; their status will diminish as the amount of discretion and decision they need to exercise is taken over by technologically sophisticated equipment - 'smart' machines that can even diagnose their own faults and predict breakdowns and which are repaired merely by the replacement of one circuit board with another.

Both types of worker must accustom themselves to change - in training and location, in attitudes to work and the connections that have habitually been made between reward, in terms of authority and prestige as well as income, and performance. But the greatest shock is being suffered by the industrial worker, whose mobility and flexibility is in any case impeded by strict rules and practices, carefully structured systems of payment of wages and fringe benefits. The groups that will gain are those who are at present outside these rigid systems: freelance workers, 'marginal' groups such as women, the disabled and handicapped, those developing countries which still lack an industrial base and, therefore, the accompanying structural rigidities. Telematics gives these the mobility and flexibility they lack, to work from home, work part-time at odd times, work at short tasks or parts of tasks.

Those who are accustomed to traditional hierarchical structures will suffer. Much of our business is at present organised bureaucratically, in the strict sense of the word. Authority and discretion is vested in people, usually senior in age and experience, at the top of the organisation, supervising large numbers of workers below. The maintenance of such systems requires those at the top to possess more information than those whose work they oversee. Technology that depends on the sharing of information at all levels, decentralised location of work, considerable independence in timing and new kinds of managerial skills -whether for managing one's own work or that of others - obviously explodes the authority and mystique of the traditional senior manager, whether he or she runs an office, a typing pool, a factory, a business or a university faculty. The independent freelance will have a field day; where large and complicated tasks must be managed, this will be done by 'matrix' management, with "horizontally' organised teams, responsible and accountable for the performance of specific tasks, being combined with 'vertically' organised lines of authority, based not so much on seniority as on proven success.

Will there be less work, or more? The short and simple answer, which we will come to, is that it depends on what is meant by 'work'. The more complicated reply, intended to reassure, is that, although nobody can be precise, every technological revolution known hitherto has created more employment rather than less. Labour is not displaced by, say, the invention of steam power or telematics, because more is found to be done. Of course it is true that new technology alters productivity; where telematics is concerned, less capital and vastly less manpower is needed per unit of output, freeing capital resources and human time and energy. The rigidities of our existing industrial system make the process of adaptation to these changes painful and slow and it is the more difficult because adjustment also requires profound changes in attitude: 'work' can no longer be thought of as greater or lesser drudgery, in which people engage in order to earn money to live on, which they do in a particular place for a particular length of time, under certain highly organised conditions.

Adjustment is required, too, in our view of how a nation earns and spends its living. Countries seeking to build up 'information industries' are faced with high entry costs for some sorts of activity - chip design and manufacture, for example - but low entry costs for others - design and analytic work, sub-contracted light assembly, software design, and so on. Such work can be undertaken wherever there are sufficient people with the appropriate intellectual and design skills. It is work that can be moved within countries and between countries according to the prevailing patterns of cost and expertise. Since it is this work that has high added value, governments will be anxious to retain it within their own shores and to do so they will need to ensure that the development of such skills is encouraged and their practitioners stimulated; in modern jargon, they will need to promote, as a matter of public policy, 'creator/creative friendly environments'.

Consumption patterns are changing too, although it is easy to underestimate the proportion of personal and national income that is already spent on 'information-related' activity. We tend to overlook, for example, meter-reading services, commuting, and other tasks that require expenditure on getting to and fro in order to obtain and disseminate information. The proportion of costs allocated to transportation will surely diminish; expenditure on some things, like energy, will be more efficient, as technology helps us to measure and monitor it more effectively. Other goods, 'high­tech frivolities', the conference called them, will mop up surplus income. The velocity of transactions will doubtless increase as electronic banking, 'teleshopping', and new methods of recording and billing change the notions of 'credit' and 'saving'. Monetary policy may prove even more difficult to regulate.

It is clear that, just as the definition of 'work' is changing, together with attitudes, so is the definition of 'education'. There will be a blurring between these two, as many tasks will require creative, problem­solving aptitudes rather than the application of standardised, learned techniques. The societies that will flourish will be those which not only take advantage of new technology to deliver information and for example, to teach skills from the most basic (how to fit an engine together) to the most sophisticated (how to land an aeroplane), but which also attend to the need to improve the style and content of education, so that people are taught how to develop and apply their intelligence, to make unexpected connections, see patterns and analyse the components of problems. Developed countries tend to have very inflexible educational systems. Teachers, parents, churches and politicians all jealously guard their traditional and vested interests, making it more difficult to take advantage of new techniques; however, their comparatively greater wealth does allow universities, schools and families to purchase equipment - small computers and the like - with which students can become familiar . But, the developing countries have not lagged behind. Some of the most comprehensive and imaginative plans for the exploitation of the new technology are to be found, for example, in India and Brazil. The argument that telematic devices are baffling to the unsophisticated, the old, the peasantry, are belied by experience. Machines that present pictures and graphics, for instance, are ideally suited to populations with low levels of literacy; 'clever' machines, that do the difficult calculations and operations for themselves, are much more 'user-friendly' than complicated pieces of traditional equipment.

Changes in the way we define 'work' and 'education' also encourages change in our understanding of 'leisure'. In developed countries we have tended to think of leisure as what one has when one is not at work, and work has primarily been thought of in terms of the place of work. Not only will the location of work move from large, centralised cities to small, decentralised work stations, local centres where equipment can be shared or personal work stations, possibly at home, but places where people associate for pleasure will be different as well. More information and entertainment will be available at home; on the other hand, as people see less of their fellow human beings in the course of shopping, travelling to work and at the workplace, they may be more inclined to do things voluntarily and for amusement - sport, exploring, talking, being with children, looking after one another.

Shifts in patterns of association and the reasons for it will profoundly affect the way in which people see their common interests; they will be affected, too, by methods of communication which put people and groups with a common cause in rapid and effective touch with one another. Geographical proximity is no longer a powerful factor in determining with whom people spend their time, whom they consider as neighbours, or with whom they share a common interest. Fast, easy communications give, say, fishermen in Scotland and in Brittany a self-consciousness that is more influential than their respective national loyalties. Large pressure groups dissolve as smaller sections of their members combine and recombine among themselves, according to the issue; professional organisations crack open as their mystique is challenged by 'amateurs' who may be untrained but who have other means of access to information and advice; politicians see their authority eroded along with their traditional function of giving coherence to the views of individuals and groups in a society, voicing their desires and protests, and forming what they believe to be the national or the public interest. People are more able to do these things for themselves and, as a result, our societies are becoming looser, more pragmatic, less structured and more fluid.

In the transitional stage, however, we still look to our public authorities, to political, administrative, technical and business leaders, to consider how we should proceed in these confusing times and how we can take advantage of the promise of the new technology, acquiring its benefits and being wary of its dangers. These themes were very much the affair of the other two groups in this conference, one considering the commercial and the other industrial implications of telematics.

The commercial dimension.    In thinking about the most sensible ways to stimulate the introduction of the new technology, the group examining its commercial aspects turned first to the question of whether telecommunications monopolies were beneficial or restrictive. It was generally felt that in the early stages of development of a country's telecommunications system, government control and intervention is helpful to ensure that access to basic telephone services is available throughout the country, including those regions where supplying a service is particularly difficult and expensive. Competition is, however, advisable in the supply of terminal equipment to speed growth and expansion; a form of enterprise that is proving effective is the joint venture between a national government and private capital and management expertise. Similarly, a combination of private-sector initiatives and a government franchising system seems to work well in stimulating the growth of broad-band local services, such as cable delivery systems.

In those countries where adequate, basic telephone services are in place, the existence of statutory monopolies is thought to hinder commercial innovation and, here, the goal should be to respond to consumer demand by making it easier, by open competition wherever possible, to introduce new types of service and systems based on newer technologies - although special measures may be necessary to make sure that the more remote regions can derive a share of the benefits. The sudden dismantling of an existing mono­ poly may have unexpected consequences on, for example, its investment and borrowing standing but, altogether, the benefits of competition outweigh the disadvantages.

Support for open markets and free competition is less marked when we tum from the supply of hardware to the provision of the information which it transports. Adding value to information by collecting, processing and distributing it makes an increasingly important contribution to a country's economy and it is both necessary and desirable that national and international policies regarding information flow be devised much as there exist comparable policies for the flow of commodities. But there is deep difference of attitude here. Representatives of developed countries - particularly those businesses whose activity depends on the efficient transmission of data across national borders (transnational companies, data-based businesses and the like) - naturally stress the importance of minimising constraints to trans-border data flow. They are anxious that legislation should not vary widely between countries and that, for preference, it should neither deprive them of the right to 'plug in' to a country's national telecommunications network nor oblige them to process certain types of data within the boundaries of one country rather than another. Otherwise much of the usefulness of sophisticated modem telecommunications services is lost.

Representatives of developing countries, on the other hand, and, indeed, of some developed ones too, argue that a measure of protection is essential if they are to build indigenous information industries. Such protectionist legislation would limit the import of data processed elsewhere and the export of 'raw' data; processing information at home would, it is maintained, cause value-added, high-earning services to flourish within the domestic economy, encourage the acquisition of skills by the local population and minimise the economic and cultural dependence of developing countries on those already 'information-rich'. In the developed countries the desire to preserve jobs can encourage a similar protectionist mood. Policies of this sort are obviously likely to recoil on those governments adopting them, not least because they invite retaliation. Countries seeking to protect their information industries may find themselves cut off from valuable data bases elsewhere and isolated from important developments in technology and techniques. In short, though the apprehensions of governments are very real, their efforts to block information flows are in complete contradiction to the telecommunications revolution of which they are hoping to take advantage. Moreover, the most urgent task for governments is to remove obstacles to the growth and application of telematics which at present exist in the form of statutory monopolies and  curbs on data flow. There is little they need to do to directly stimulate the growth of businesses, which will respond far more briskly to consumer demand. Nor is it economically practicable for governments to install systems embodying technology for which there are, as yet, few conceivable applications, although neither is it commercially sensible to delay the introduction of new services for which demand has been demonstrated in the hope that the necessary technology will develop even further.

Commercial considerations, therefore, indicate that the role of governments lies in formulating generous and international telecommunications policies. What is worrying is that, as yet, politicians have not on the whole understood the implications of the telecommunications revolution and are ill-suited to deal with these issues with sufficient subtlety and vision. This also troubled the members of the group which considered industrial policy, for all the problems they identified required timely and intelligent government action, whether at a national or an international level.

Quite apart from the domestic question as to how, if at all, national governments can stimulate growth at home - growth in what are primarily service economies there are important questions of international trade. Some countries - Japan being the outstanding example - have set their targets on manufacturing hardware for their own use and for export. Indeed, in the Japanese case, the captive domestic market, at least for consumer products, is used to cover the basic, non-recurring costs of developing sophisticated equipment, which can then be marketed and sold abroad relatively cheaply and as part of an explicit national strategy. Other countries are able to manufacture the hardware they need themselves, depending for their export market on software - design, marketing and training programmes, project management, the sale of computer programmes, and so forth. Can a country, or groups of countries - America plus Western Europe, the European Community, developing countries - define their exporting and importing strategy and decide how and in what areas they will attempt to specialise?

Resource management.    Another matter for inter-governmental attention is the global balance of resources and of skills. The allocation of frequencies, orbital slots, transponders, etc. can perhaps be left to the market within a developed country, where it concerns the access of particular groups within that country to the information resources allotted to it (though not everyone would agree that such decisions should be left to market forces). But when we are thinking about the international allocation of scarce spectrum resources, intergovernmental decisions are needed. In the case of developing countries, who may lack the finance to exploit what is set aside for them, the rich countries may find themselves subsidising the poor. This may not prove to be merely altruistic; encouraging the use of new telecommunications technology carries the advantage that it stimulates demand for hardware and increases overall traffic. It can be done by means of commercially and industrially profitable joint ventures and joint systems.

A similar responsibility falls to governments to think about the teaching and transfer of skills. Those who provide new technology to developing countries should train the indigenous population in the necessary operating and engineering skills, if the gap between information-rich and information-poor is not to yawn even wider. In the long run, it is to be hoped that the new industries of developing countries will become self-sustaining. A bleaker picture is of engineers trained in an obsolete technology whose status and income declines as their skills are superseded.

Then there is the matter of international standards. The speed of innovation, the fact that the telecommunications network is a global one, the intensity of competition to introduce new devices all mean that the present international standards-making bodies are unable to keep up with their responsibilities. Governments need to consider what level of detail is needed in standard-setting (which is, of course, often used as a disguised protectionist measure) and whether current procedures actually inhibit innovation and the application of new systems and devices. Again, part of the difficulty lies in the fact that our institutional arrangements are out-of-date; these are large political questions, not simply technical ones.

The inadequacy of our mechanisms for defining and establishing public policy was, as it turned out, the principal note upon which the conference closed. We sought to apply the conclusions, which the various groups had drawn, to the conditions of, on the one hand, developed and, on the other, developing countries and we decided that, in fact, we are all in pretty much the same boat. What the developed countries enjoy in the way of existing resources - a basic, universal telephone network, a skilled and educated population, mature or rapidly maturing hardware and software industries, lively and vociferous consumers, and so on - is counter-balanced by their lack of flexibility. What the developing countries enjoy by the absence of existing structural rigidities is counter­balanced by their vulnerability.

What all lack, we were obliged to conclude, are appropriate  forums for discussing  these intricate policy questions - shifts in demography, changes in attitudes to work, leisure and education, alterations in the value that is attached to individual privacy, and so on. And, internationally, the existing forums are just as inadequate: standards-setting bodies, frequency allocation bodies, institutions like UNESCO, the GATT and so on, which consider, or should consider, questions relating to trans-border data flows, a regime for ensuring fair competition in services, etc., are all too limited in their constituencies and their representation. But how do we begin? Perhaps, as at Ditchley, by mixing more philosophers with the engineers, politicians and bureaucrats and by dumping our existing ideological and intellectual baggage in a comer and proceeding, sensibly and without rancour, to try to disentangle these inordinately complicated but exciting possibilities.

© The Ditchley Foundation, 1982. All rights reserved. Queries concerning permission or translation rights should be addressed to The Ditchley Foundation, Ditchley Park, Enstone, Oxon, OX7 4ER.


Conference Chairman:
Mr. Peter F. Benton, Deputy Chairman, British Telecom; previously, Post Office Telecommunications (Managing Director, 1978-81); NEDO: Member, Electronics Industry Economic Development Committee; Confederation of British Industry: Member, Economic and Financial Policy Committee; Chairman CBI Working Party on Local Taxation.

Mr. E.J. Wilkinson, First  Assistant Secretary and Special Adviser (Engineering), Department of Communications; Associate Member, Australian Broadcasting Tribunal Inquiring into Cable and Subscription Television; President, Institute of Radio and Electronics Engineers (1979-80).

Dr. Roal Antonio del Fiol, Director of Operations, Telebras.

Mr. W.J. Adams, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Counsellor (Developing Countries), U.K. Permanent Representation to EEC (1973-77); Head of Chancery and Counsellor (Economic). HM Embassy, Rome (1977-81).

Dr.Edward de Bono, Lecturer in Medicine, Department of Investigative Medicine, University of Cambridge; Director, The Cognitive Research Trust, Cambridge.

Mr. Guy de Jonquieres, Financial Times Journalist, specialising in the computer and electronics industry.

Mr. R.M. Denny, Managing Director, Rediffusion Ltd.; a Director: Broadcast Relay Service (Overseas) Ltd.; Rediffusion Cable­vision Ltd.; Thames Television Ltd. and other companies; Chairman, Redifon Ltd.

Sir Ronald Ellis, A Director: Wilkinson Sword Group; Redman Heenan International; Yarrow & Co.; Director, Royal Ordnance Factories (1976); Seconded to Ministry of Defence, Head of Defence Sales (1976-81).

Mr. John Hoskyns, Head of Prime Minister's Policy Unit; founded John Hoskyns & Co. Ltd., later part of Hoskyns Group Ltd. (Chairman and Managing Director) (1964-75).

Dr. Janet Morgan, Writer; a Director, Guinness Peat Satellite Television Co.; former Member, Central Policy Review Staff and Lecturer in Politics, Oxford University.

Mr. E. R. Nixon, CBE, Chairman, IBM United Kingdom Ltd.; a Director, National Westminster Bank Ltd.; Confederation of British Industry: Member, Committee on Industrial Policy; Chairman, Standing Committee on Marketing and Consumer Affairs (1971-78).

The Rt. Hon. the Lord Penney, OM, KBE, FRS, A Director, Standard Telephones and Cables; Director, Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Aldermaston (1953-59); Vice President, The Royal Society (1957-60); Chairman, UK Atomic Energy Authority (1964-67); Rector, Imperial College of Science and Technology (1967-73).

Professor W.B. Reddaway, CBE, Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge; Economic Adviser to Confederation of British Industry; Professor of Political Economy, University of Cambridge (1969-80); Editor, Economic Journal (1971-76); Regional Adviser, Economic Commission for Western Asia (1979-80).

Mr. J. E. Samson, Managing Director, STC Telecommunication and Electronics Group; Member: Information Technology Committee of NEDO; Economic Affairs Committee, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Managing Director, Industrial Electronics Group, Plessey (1970-74).

Mr. T. Sharp, Assistant Secretary, Department of Industry, Posts and Telecommunications Division; Commercial Counsellor, British Embassy, Washington (1972-76).

Dr. Peter E. Trier, CBE, Director, Philips Industries UK and subsidiaries; Pro-Chancellor, Brunel University; President, Institute of Mathematics and its Applications; Parliamentary and Scientific Committee; President, Electronic Engineering Association (1980-81); Member, ACARD Working Party on Information Technology (1980).

Mr.Donald Wray, Director, Business Planning and Strategy, British Telecom.

Dr. Donald A. Otisholm, President, Innovation and Development, Northern Telecom Ltd.; Chairman, Bell-Northern Research Ltd.; a Director Northern Telecom Canada Ltd. and other companies; Chairman, Microelectronics Task Force of the Government of Ontario; a Member, Service Council of Canada.

Mr. T.R. Ide, Chairman: Communications Research Advisory Board , Department of Communications; The Denwood Institute; Science Council of Canada Committee on Computers and Communications; Vice-Chairman, Canadian Videotex Consultative Committee, Department of Communications; President, T.R. Ide Consultants, Inc.; Science Council of Canada (1975-81).

United States:
Mr. John M. Eger, Vice President, Strategic Planning & International Development, CBS, Inc.; Legal Assistant to Federal Communications Commission, Chairman (1971-74); Advisor to President for telecommunications and Head, White House Office of Telecommunications Policy (1974-76).

Mr. Geza Feketekuty, Assistant US Trade Representative in the Office of the US Trade Representative; formerly, Senior Staff Economist for International Finance and Trade, Council of Economic Advisors; Economist and Budget Examiner, Office of Management and Budget; Visiting Professor, Cornell University;

Mr. Harry L. Freeman, Senior Vice President, American Express Company.

Mr. Frederick W.Gluck, A Director, McKinsey & Company, Inc.

Mr.Edward Goldstein, Assistant Vice President , Financial Management, American Telephone & Telegraph Co. (AT&T).

Mr. William C. Hittinger, Executive Vice President, RCA Corporation; Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Mr. Daniel N. Piccone, Director of Telecommunications Practises, IBM Corporation.

Mr. Richard E. Pitts, Vice President - Operations, AT & T International.

Mr. Philip H. Power, Founder and Chairman, Suburban Communications Corporation, Michigan; Founder, Suburban Cable TV Corp., Michigan; Director, World Press Freedom Committee.

Mrs. Sarah G. Power, Regent, The University of Michigan; Member, Council on Foreign Relations; Chairman, United States National Commission for UNESCO (1976-79); Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Social Affairs, Bureau of Inter­ national Organization Affairs, Department of State (1980-81).

Mr. Leland W. Schmidt, Assistant Vice-President, Revenues and Tariffs, GTE Services Corporation; Member, Telecommunications Policy Task Force.

Dr. Albert D. Wheelon, Senior Vice President and Group President, Space and Communications Group, Hughes Aircraft Company; Consultant, National Security Council; Member, Defense Science Board (1968-74) (Vice-Chairman 1973-74); Consultant , President's Scientific Advisory Committee (1967-74).

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