3.00 FYI France: Enewsletter and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Nov 15, 1993 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on November 15, 1993. This particular issue originally was distributed in two parts, as indicated below.
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From: Jack Kessler 
Subject: the Grandes Ecoles, on the Future (part 1 of 3) (15 Nov 93)



November 15, 1993


		FYI France: the Grandes Ecoles, on the Future (part 1 of 3)

by:	Jack Kessler
	kessler@well.sf.ca.us


A bulletin: those of you interested in the Bibliothe`que de France, including 
the many who have asked to see "proceedings" from last year's UC Berkeley 
conference, might be happy to learn that the conference papers at last 
appeared, in September, in a special issue ("Future Libraries") of the 
periodical _representations_ (Berkeley: UC Press, Spring 1993, ISSN 0734-6018, 
US$ 7.50). The volume is well-edited and very usefully introduced by Howard 
Bloch and Carla Hesse of UCB, organizers of the original conference. It 
includes an elegant essay by Geoffrey Nunberg, intriguing pieces by Roger 
Chartier and others who attended the conference, and additional interesting 
contributions on the topic from other writers. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie 
appears as well, talking about "My Everydays" in his role as administrateur of 
the BN, a role quite possibly to be expanded shortly to include administration 
of the BdF. Well worth reading, for a well-rounded, thoughtful consideration of 
a topic which has generated too much hysteria in France as elsewhere.

***

FYI France: the Grandes Ecoles, on the Future (part 1 of 3)

"International Symposium II", held November 8-10 at the University of 
California at Berkeley, was convened by UC Berkeley, MIT, and the French 
Confe'rence des Grandes Ecoles. The stated topic was "The Culture of 
Engineering in a Rapidly Changing World / L'inge'nieur et sa culture dans un 
monde en mutation". But what emerged was a range of global issues which far 
exceeded the original broad aims of the conference's designers. The French 
and the Americans, and representatives from 18 other countries, plunged into 
debates, from the outset, about the future of engineering education, the future 
of education in general, the social meaning of high technology, and the future 
of society. It was quite a conference. 

In the brave new world of networked information, the Americans' greatest 
competitors are the French. This is not the world of computers or networks or 
simply hi-tech, but of hi-tech applications, the new pre-occupation which has 
taken over the hi-tech industry and topic, as hardware and software have 
become cheaper, more standardized, and boring. There are other players in 
networked information, but few as advanced as are the French, and none so 
far with the potential of becoming as fierce competitors of the US as the 
French possess. So this gathering of engineering leaders from France and the 
US touched upon some timely themes.

This is to be a report, then, on a remarkable gathering of exceptional people at 
a special time. The French and the US have become world leaders in networked 
information just at the time when networked information is preparing to "go 
public" -- in the US and outside France, at least, as the French Minitel has had 
"public" users for some time -- and other professions, like librarians, might 
take comfort from discovering that even the engineers are worried about it.

The First Day: French Questions and American Answers

UC Berkeley Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien, an accomplished scientist himself, 
opened the conference with his habitual energy and enthusiasm, nevertheless 
warning the audience not only that "everything which happens in science 
affects what we do in the world", but also that, "everything which we do in the 
world affects what we do in science". 

Since the formation of the group sponsoring the conference, nearly a decade 
ago, there have been great changes, he said: the end of the Cold War, the 
information revolution, and the recent global economic weakness among 
them. One problem of particular concern to him is the recent massive increase 
in the world's refugees: 18 million people, with an additional 24 million inside 
their own countries, or more than the combined populations of Scandinavia, 
the Netherlands and Belgium, Tien said -- he himself had been a refugee, he 
told us, and he had known the difficulties which these people face. 

"There is a new diversity in our society," Tien said, "of ethnicity, language, and 
culture." Of the conference, he observed, "The bridge across the Atlantic is 
firm. Let us forge a bridge across the Pacific Ocean as well." He appealed for 
open discussions which might help the world with these problems, then ended 
on the more local note, "Go Bears!"

Jacques Levy, Director of the Ecole des Mines and current President of the 
Confe'rence des Grandes Ecoles, began the French contribution by outlining 
the history of the symposium itself, and observing that there has been a great 
increase in the student population over the decade since the effort began. 
Bernard Sutter, former Director of Enseignement Supe'rieur des 
Te'le'communications, noted a broadening in the concerns of engineers 
during the same time: the first symposium had focussed on "Competitions and 
Partnerships", he noted, while this second one was focussing on "Culture". 

Pierre Lafitte, former director of the Ecole des Mines, Honorary President of 
the Confe'rence des Grandes Ecoles, and now a French Senator, then gave an 
eloquent and animated address, appealing to the audience to "remember the 
illiterate as well as the higher level" in the population, during their 
deliberations. There is a political role in the engineer's task, Lafitte urged: 
there are issues of technocracy and meritocracy which must be considered. He 
mentioned St. Simon. He appeared to be appealing for a new model of an 
"engineer engage'": there is a role for the scientist in debates over the ethics 
of science for example, he suggested, if only to balance the roles now played 
there by lawyers and other professionals. 

Senator Lafitte called for a reconsideration of the ideal of the "honne^te 
homme": the ideal of broad cultural exposure which ruled engineering 
education in the Enlightenment but which, he feels, recently has been 
rejected. A nineteenth century alliance between industrialization and the 
"Romantic Rebellion", Lafitte said, divorced general culture from engineering, 
creating a gap which now must be closed. Art, poetry and philosophy are 
connected with science, he asserted. They are necessary now to engineering 
education, moreover, because engineering now is, like other professions, 
becoming more of a service industry: it no longer is just "hardware" and 
"software" -- the arts, music, and politics are becoming an engineering 
necessity, and future engineers will have to know about foreign languages 
and foreign cultures. "If engineers don't want to become isolated, they must 
become the humanists of the Third Millenium," Senator Lafitte declared.

Other Europeans appeared to agree, with the French Senator, that engineering 
education should be broadened. Manfredo Macioti, Scientific Counselor to 
DGXIII of the European Communities, observed that the European engineer has 
coped with many efforts to better-integrate Europe since the second World 
War, but still faces challenges: 1) technology must be brought to market, 2) 
globalism must become a factor in engineering, 3) engineering must take 
better account of problems like unemployment and the environment, and 4) 
Eastern Europe must be addressed on the engineering agenda. Professor 
Andre' Grelon, of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, observed 
that engineers have an advantage in having a common professional faith in 
the rational development of society. Armand Hatchuel of the Ecole des Mines 
urged, though, that engineers become both scientists and managers: modern 
technologies are open, he pointed out -- they have become answers in search 
of questions, requiring people skilled in both science and management to deal 
with the questions as well as with the answers. A questioner from the audience 
deplored the fact that culture somehow has evolved into a defense system 
against technology, wishing that the trend might be reversed. Another 
mentioned a recent study of the percentages of research-oriented firms which 
had scientists on their boards: 70% in Japan, 50% in Europe, and only 20% in 
the US.

The French and European preoccupation, on this first day, was with 
engineering, its education, and its role. The faith, and interest, in rationality 
-- in the ability to affect events by making changes -- perseveres, at least in 
France and Europe. One telling observation made from the audience in the 
morning session was that a problem with French engineering education is 
that it does not just select, or even educate, only for engineering: the great 
French engineering schools long have served as training grounds for the 
country's ruling elite -- if the schools' role is to manage the filtering of the 
French elite, does this not greatly increase the need for broadening the 
educational approach, the questioner wondered. 

The Americans had other concerns, though, which began to come out that 
afternoon. A sort of "American rejoinder" was offered, in a session chaired by 
UC Berkeley's Provost for Research, Joseph Cerny. James McGroddy, Director of 
Research of IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center, offered some lessons 
from his firm's recent bitter experiences. "Customers value large aggregates," 
he warned, to wry but sympathetic smiles in the audience, "not components". A 
firm's "ability to develop intellectual capital" is its paramount skill, he feels. 
He worried about the universities: he observed that in a modern world of great 
change only a few institutions profess pride in tracing their origins to the 
14th century, and that among these are "a couple of religions, and a couple of 
universities". He warned that we must never "become trapped by that which 
we know", that we "should learn things which we don't 'need' to know".

Charles Vest, President of MIT, recalled Yale's Bart Giamatti once musing that 
being a modern university president was using a 13th century position to run 
a billion-dollar modern corporation. Much can be and is being done 
nevertheless, Vest said. The challenges of what he calls "Post-Modern 
Engineering" are to introduce notions of human intervention into the 
engineering mindset. The boundary between science and engineering must be 
blurred, Vest said, as must be that between engineering and the humanities 
and social sciences. There must be a new combination of precision with 
creativity. He described the "MIT-Japan" program, and a new MIT project to 
train "leaders for tomorrow", in partnership with corporations.

Roger Werne, Associate Director for Engineering and Technology Transfer for 
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, then tackled defence conversion, 
and the whole problem of defining, narrowly, a "new role for national labs" 
and, broadly, a new role for scientific research. The old motivator -- the Cold 
War -- is gone, he pointed out, and we now have found that there is, "more 
confusion in victory than in defeat". Our economic problems, and increased 
foreign competition are showing, moreover, that "government must support 
US industry, not just regulate it", Werne asserted. To help the private sector, 
there must be 1) spinoff technology, 2) cooperative research, and 3) 
breakthrough R&D: this last being the role of the national labs, said Werne. 
"Breakthrough" research and development is needed wherever industry faces 
a "Grand Challenge", Werne believes: the problem of the automobile and the 
environment, for example, or that of taking the "NOX and SOX" pollutants out of 
diesel engines, or developments such as "soft" x-rays, parallel processing 
algorithms, the human genome, or micro-surgery advances -- all of these are 
valid national lab concerns, he feels, if only because their solution often is 
necessary to carry out some already-stated government policy. That they are, 
in addition, problems too large and too risky for private corporate research 
makes the need for national lab involvement doubly urgent, Werne said.

Professor Langdon Winner of RPI, a political scientist, then began the raising 
of some of the sleeping questions, which was to continue from then on 
throughout the conference. "What of the new relation between science and 
technology and the citizen?", he asked. In the past, we have focused on 
economics, Winner believes, but there has been a lack of focus on the social 
and cultural effects of science and engineering: we have looked at the 
economic pump, he says, but now we must examine a cultural loom. The 
Interstate Highway System, for example, Winner continued, so often used now 
as a metaphor for networked information developments, had bad side-effects 
on society which must be studied. The Clinton administration wants us to 
consider "infrastructure", but we also must examine the weakening of 
American democracy and bureaucracy now being exploited, Winner said, by "a 
certain Texas billionaire". "Can citizens be included in new ways?", Winner 
wonders: might the information revolution become, in this respect, as 
significant as was the American Revolution? The National Information 
Infrastructure project represents, to Winner, a chance to redefine the 
fundamental distinction in America between "public and private things".

Winner proposed, to this audience of engineers, that for every dollar given to 
new "R&D", five cents might be given to the consideration of the social and 
cultural consequences of that R&D: a consideration which might include "town 
meetings" of ordinary citizens. The planning of technology must be 
democratized, he declared, observing that engineers normally "don't 
communicate well with the public". This is a time, Winner observed, in which 
communication with the public is becoming critical. "Hierarchies are 
flattening, organizations are becoming 'lean'", says Winner: in regular 
corporate and other institutional reorganizations, which are becoming known 
as "Operation Fresh Meat", anyone who cannot communicate well is in trouble, 
he said.
Much though there was unease in the audience at Winner's remarks, there 
was even more at hearing both Vest and Werne describing the newly 
increased involvement of MIT and Livermore with private industry. 
Engineering always has been at the frontier between "pure" and "applied" 
science, one attendee observed, and the position never has been comfortable. 

(Next: end of The First Day, and The Second Day -- Networking Nuts and Bolts.)


***


FYI France: the Grandes Ecoles, on the Future (part 2 of 3)

The first day of "International Symposium II" -- the joint conference of the 
University of California at Berkeley, MIT, and the French Confe'rence des 
Grandes Ecoles, held November 8-10 at Berkeley -- defined French and 
American positions which were relatively far apart, on engineering, 
education, and a few aspects of a general approach to life. These differences, 
particularly as regards information networking, became a little more obvious 
on the conference's second day, in a Workshop entitled, "Information 
Technology and Management", organized by Franc,ois Bar of the Berkeley 
Roundtable on the International Economy. First, though, the conclusion of The 
First Day's afternoon sessions, which was venturing into dangerous areas such 
as "the frontier between 'pure' and 'applied science'", and whether even 
engineers, like everyone else, now must redefine their discipline in light of 
the strides made by networked information?

A question was posed worrying that the "shorter time horizons" which 
previously plagued and now are of great concern to IBM and the rest of 
industry will be transferred to the universities, to the extent that university-
industry partnerships are expanded. Vest of MIT cautioned that he is well 
aware of this risk, and that his institution always will reserve a place for 
purely "academic" interests in research. It was suggested that a recovery from 
the current global economic recession might do much to alleviate the 
pressures felt by universities to move toward private industry. A questioner 
from Weyerhauser Corporation described the "continuing education" program 
which that firm has mounted internally. Winner brought up, acidly, the 
spectres of "tele-conferencing" and "just-in-time-training" being substituted 
for his own field, education. What is needed, he said, is a "lean and swift 
problem-solver". Vest reminded the audience that there still is a need for a 
"diversity of institutions", that while his mandate at MIT might be to draw 
closer to industry, that did not mean that all institutions must do so: the basic 
question, he feels, is "how to continue fundamental research while doing 
industry research?"

The conference then shifted to a panel discussion, which tried to tie together 
the European and American views. Jacques Bodelle, of Elf-Aquitaine, a long-
time US resident, observed that in the US one "practices" engineering, while 
in France one "studies" engineering. Culture and education are somewhat at 
odds in the US, Bodelle feels, where the narrower focus produces "training" for 
what might be a broader cultural exposure. Bodelle praised, however, the US 
injection of entrepreneurship into engineering education, and pointed out the 
great strength in US continuing education, supported strongly by the 
corporations. Richard Atkinson, UC San Diego Chancellor and a former 
National Science Foundation director, then took a strong swipe at recent 
belittling characterizations of fundamental research as being merely 
"curiousity-driven". We are in for a "major sea change" in academia, he 
declared, for which his own campus has prepared by promoting a "Graduate 
School in International Relations and Pacific Studies". 

Dominique De Werra, Vice President of the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Federale 
de Lausanne, then reminded the conference that the true educational mission 
was "to produce leaders rather than trailers", and that the terms "crisis" and 
"chance" are equated in Chinese. Daniel Gourisse, Director of the Ecole 
Centrale de Paris observed that, in these times, international thinking would 
act as an accelerator, and national thinking as a brake, and urged that 
engineers be encouraged to work for double degrees. Patrick Holmes, former 
Dean of London's Imperial College suggested, further, that a first engineering 
degree be considered not professional but merely preliminary, that marketing 
of products must become a concern of engineers, and that institutions 
themselves might even begin to divide into either research or teaching 
functions. Charles Shank, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, 
almost defensively asserted that the new reality is that all research needs 
partnerships to pursue complex problems. "Facilities must be leveraged", he 
said, "to produce economic results"; there is an effort now, "to make science 
pay". Nevertheless, he reminded the audience, ten years ago "cooperation" 
would have been in high-energy physics, while today the largest US DOE 
programs concern the environment. Shank joined Atkinson in condemning a 
recent characterization of basic research as "curiosity-driven", which makes 
science, he said, appear to be merely "self-indulgent". 


The Second Day: Networking Nuts and Bolts

Andres Albanese, of Berkeley's International Computer Science Institute, 
suggested, in the Workshop on Information Technology and Management, that 
information technology might be viewed generally as a system, for 
connecting information users with information providers, consisting of three 
layers: 1) delivery, 2) service, and 3) the information itself. For this purpose, 
he suggested further, a) local area networks, b) metropolitan area networks, 
and c) wide area networks have been designed. Too little attention has been 
given to the intermediate-size metropolitan networks he feels: a point which 
became important in subsequent Workshop discussion.

Domenico Ferrari, a professor at Berkeley in computer science, then ably took 
on the job of summarizing the current state of network engineering, 
outlining efforts to handle high speeds and multiple types of traffic, with high 
utilization and low costs. He described current trends as representing a 
fundamental shift "from text to digitized multimedia", and guided the Workshop 
through the latest alphabet soup of acronyms: "FDDI", "HIPPI", "DQDB", "SMDS", 
and the latest engineering-solution-to-all-problems, "ATM". Ferrari 
interestingly cautioned that all the current enthusiasts for networked 
multimedia may face a quality-threshold problem: consumers are used to 
congestion-free transmission in television, and won't stand the many little 
interruptions which thus far still plague output on the packet networks, he 
said.

It was then the job of Larry Landweber, of the University of Wisconsin, to put 
flesh on the bones. He produced the standard Internet "stun" statistics, of 
which he is an acknowledged master -- "10 to 20 million users", "2 million host 
computers, of which 30% now are outside the US", "10 to 20 terabytes of data 
transferred per month", "10 to 15% growth per month" -- and some useful 
little, sketchy, graphs which help identify the roles of things like the Internet 
and NREN and HPCC and "gigabit testbed programs" amid all the talk of the "NII 
/ National Information Infrastructure". Commercialization currently is the 
great challenge, Landweber acknowledged: everyone knows that it's coming, 
rapidly, and no one yet is quite sure how to handle it, in terms of data flows or 
in other respects. 

There now are five high-speed, high-capacity "gigabit testbeds" scattered 
around the United States, to test the newest techniques, named "CASA", and 
"BLANCA" -- someone liked the Bogart film, Landweber explained -- and 
"NECTAR", "AURORA", and "VISTANET". The problems which they are 
addressing include what he called the "Monday Nite Football problem": 
network links get lost on Monday nights in the US, prompting someone to 
suggest that Monday Nite Football tv programs' popularity might somehow be 
crowding into capacity. Congestion control, and problems of bursty traffic -- 
networked information "packets" which "burst" in groups upon weak links in 
the network -- are current concerns. Ideas as radical as "distributed virtual 
shared memory" -- in which computer memory shared among different points, 
as in a "parallel-processing" super-computer, now might be shared out among 
remote locations via the networks -- even are being looked at. Speeds are 
moving higher: the Aurora testbed, for example, now is working at 1.2 gigabits 
per second, and soon will move to 2.4. The Federal government is devoting 
money to the research, Landweber said, but private corporations like AT&T are 
spending much more. The networks' most remarkable feature is 
interoperability, he said; among their most difficult current problems is that 
of providing for accounting and billing in what until now has been a non-
profit academic test.

Claude Gueguen, Director of Eurecom at France's Sophia Antipolis -- a 
technopolis now called, he says, "Te'le'com Valley" -- carefully bowed out of 
trying to match Landweber's statistics with their European equivalents. His 
field, he said, was not giant networks so much as their applications. He 
mentioned that there are "gigabit testbeds" in Europe, and experimentation is 
being done with ATM, but the problem which interests him is more "how to 
define good services", how to make the "transfer from techonology to services. 
He described a "tele-teaching experiment" which he is conducting over the 
BETEL / Broadband Exchange over Trans-European Links testbed, in which 
professors located in Lausanne, Switzerland instruct students located at 
Eurocom's school in the south of France. The project is to be demonstrated to 
the European Community in December.

William Johnston, of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, then spoke of network 
applications designed "to achieve complete location independence from the 
laboratory": video-conferencing, imagebase manipulation, "visual servoing" 
which will allow image processing at a less-than-pixel level. He spoke of the 
"great demand for reference librarians in the health care community", and 
predicted a "re-centralization of certain classes of service", resulting from 
information networking, such as regional data centers, digital record storage 
facilities, and centralized computing and communications facilities. Johnston 
doesn't see national structures such as that so far envisaged for the NII / 
National Information Infrastructure as being imminent; rather, he predicts 
the earlier formation of local and regional network units -- the MAN / 
Metropolitan Area Networks referred to by Albanese -- which then may 
become linked for national communications purposes.

Professor Mel Horwitch of the Theseus Institute in France then presented 
"butterfly models" which showed the extensions, via R&D electronic and non-
electronic "networks", which large companies have built to try to stay up with 
changes in network technology. He asserts, interestingly, that there will be "a 
resuscitation of 'general management'", resulting from the well-known recent 
flattening of corporate hierarchies, due both to recession and the influence of 
automation and telecommunications. Annalee Saxenian of UC Berkeley then 
suggested that local regions, like Silicon Valley, have much to do with modern 
technological development: lending more support to Albanese's initial point 
about the importance of mid-level networks. John King of UC Irvine cautioned, 
in his interesting presentation, that "academic communities are among the 
strangest on earth", so that one "can't draw generalizations from academic 
experience", in situations like, for example, the academic-testbed Internet.

Other Workshop speakers made additional points about the technology. But the 
Workshop star by far was Richard Solomon of MIT, who threw a chart up on 
the screen showing "Optimists" at the top and "Cynics" at the bottom and 
"Paranoids" on the right and "Polyannas" on the left, saying that this was his 
model of the current networking world. No one asked him whether it was his 
model of the entire world, although several French attendees did ask nearby 
Americans what a "Polyanna" was. Solomon spoke of a "Cambrian explosion" of 
technology, which made some biologists in the audience look around 
nervously. He stabbed at hi-tech firms which "gain market share by 
encouraging theft": no one knew precisely whom he meant, although there 
were guesses. He described a California school district which now is entirely 
wired and computer-and-networking equipped, thanks to parents who came in 
to do wiring on weekends: we must do "new things new ways", he warned -- to 
kids who have had a chance at the networks, he said, "television is boring". 
Solomon speaks at a high-bps, no-flow-control rate, which lost many but 
impressed all in the audience.

John Gage of Sun Microsystems concluded the workshop with what has become 
his standard warning against encroaching, unanticipated problems of the 
technology. Portable telephones are snooping devices, he asserted, and 
recounted the story of his congressional committee appearance at which he 
tapped in to a nearby telephone conversation using one, just to show the 
Congressmembers that it could be done. Gage predicts a "massive de-
capitalization of the telecommunications industry", shortly, a theme echoed in 
many corridor conversations throughout the conference: the technology is 
getting too omni-present, and too inexpensive, people say -- unless a firm gets 
out of technology and into service it will be left with no profit.

The Conference workshops were held simultaneously, so I could attend only 
one. The other two covered the topics, "New Products (Design, Materials, and 
Production Technology)", and "'Living World' Engineering in Science, 
Technology & Society: A Shrinking Globe: Less is More". The Americans must 
have been in their element in the other two as they were in the one I attended, 
though. Workshops are practical places, and well-suited for showing off the 
latest practical developments: the American advances have been stunning, 
and European Workshop attendees were suitably stunned. Even in the 
workshops, though, and even among the Americans, there was a rising need 
for generalization which kept breaking in. MIT's Solomon expressed it well: 
his presentation kept referring to social issues -- "paranoids" versus 
"polyannas", the community-effort hard-wiring of that elementary school -- 
social problems and political choices clearly lurk beneath, or beyond, the 
dazzling technological tricks. 

(Next: On the Third Day... : the Engineers, and some Nobel laureates, on the 
Future.)


*


FYI France: the Grandes Ecoles, on the Future (part 3 of 3)

By the third day of "International Symposium II" -- the joint conference of the 
University of California at Berkeley, MIT, and the French Confe'rence des 
Grandes Ecoles, held November 8-10 at Berkeley -- the French and American 
interests, which had begun relatively far apart, were even more divided. A day 
of technology wizardry by the Americans had driven home, to several 
attendees, the separation between French concerns for over-arching views 
and American interests in fixing their networking bugs. Strong 
undercurrents had appeared on both sides, the French wishing to understand 
more about the Americans' innovations, and the Americans genuinely 
yearning for a little more of the general social thinking which seemed to 
interest the French, but no synthesis yet had emerged. This challenge was met 
directly and handsomely by the conference on the third day.


On the Third Day... : the Engineers, and some Nobel laureates, on the Future.

The final day's session was held in the very pretty meeting room of the 
university's Alumni house, with an elegant view of tall trees through its large 
windows. Attempts were made to summarize the findings of the conference. 
Several speakers referred to changes which have occurred such as the end of 
the Cold War, the rise of the Far East, the failure of some of the more grand 
global economic designs, and the rise of nationalism and fundamentalism:  all 
of these, people said, are factors which affect all of us, in engineering and in 
society in general, on both sides of the Atlantic. The increased rate in 
knowledge evolution was offered as an example of change: ideas which 50 
years ago took fifteen years to bring to fruition now are realized in three. One 
by-product of this advance speed of R&D has been to render the paper medium 
out of date, if only because it is too slow. Science and engineering, a speaker 
warned, would do well to focus on new choices of representation media, and 
generally to become more aware than they have been of the problem of 
representation of their ideas. New orientations were called for in science and 
engineering education: toward environmentalism and the "human" studies -- 
the humanities, and the social sciences -- and for reorientation of the other 
studies so that they might have a better appreciation of science and 
engineering. 

UC Berkeley Chancellor Tien asserted that, "if engineers are to be part of a 
global village, they must become concerned with more than technology 
alone... we must promote dialog about our shared concerns, more engineers 
must become politicians, and university Chancellors". He announced that a 
third Symposium conference would be held in late May, 1996, in Paris. 
Chancellor Tien reiterated a point which he'd heard made in the Tuesday 
workshop which he himself had attended, that, "in the past we produced for 
the boss, today we produce for the customer, but tomorrow we must produce for 
humanity"; and he closed his final talk with the exhortation, "Go Bears!"

Jean-Pierre Chevillot, President of the French Conseil Supe'rieur de la 
Recherche et de la Technologie, then warned, however, that, "what may be 
provocative in Europe may not be in the US". He agreed that there has been a 
general scenario of change in R&D, from old models of individual research 
which prevailed up until the second World War, to teamwork and cooperative 
laboratory work, to the networks which are emerging now. Research progress 
no longer is linear, he suggested: it has become a matter of tying together 
fragmented efforts, at least in Europe. "Pre-competitive" R&D, which was 
government-supported and gave industry great advantages in the past, will be 
a handicap in the future, Chevillot warned: increasingly, industry is avoiding 
submitting strategic questions to cooperative R&D efforts. He suggested that 
the next R&D model would be "competitive partnership", with active roles for 
private corporation similar to those being discussed by the Americans. He 
warned that one, "can't have free market competition in a closed global 
system", that, "progress needs competition, but it also needs competitors who 
can't be destroyed". Aimed no doubt at the Americans, this comment raised 
some American eyebrows.

Nobel laureate Charles Townes then warned that the picture of the lone 
scientist is misleading: science always has had its cooperative research 
component, he said, pointing to the many successful efforts which grew out of 
cooperative research during the second World War as an example. He fears, he 
says, current tendencies toward "monolithism" -- always doing things only in 
a big way -- as these, in his experience, tend to be inefficient and poorly 
planned. Townes also encouraged new ideas: "I know of no remarkable new 
idea which was not opposed, at least initially, by the scientific community."

Michel Lavalou, President of the Universite' Technologie de Compie`gne, 
echoed the calls of others for inter-disciplinarity, team-working, and a 
background in the humanities, in engineering and in the sciences in general. 
New connections must be made, he agreed, to draw together teaching and 
research and entrepreneurs. He cautioned, however, that there would not be 
one solution: "the engineer is not a clone", he said. Lavalou seemed troubled, 
about the paradigm of the "global village": he asked a very interesting 
question, one which has not appeared too often yet in the general blather 
about information networking -- the problem, he suggested, is not whether 
there will be a "global village", but "will the global village be peaceful?"

The Symposium's final panel, chaired by UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor, John 
Heilbron, then took up the problems which had been bothering the non-
engineers in the audience, head-on. Stanford's Rene' Girard is a multi-faceted 
humanities scholar who has written on just about every subject except those 
addressed by the disciplines represented in the Symposium's audience. His 
assigned task, he told us, was to be the "provocateur", a word which in the 
original French does not carry the sinister overtone which it has when used 
in English, but which nevertheless conveys the general idea, in both cases, of 
stirring things up. He is profoundly worried, Girard says, about a streak of 
anti-humanistic and anti-scientific nihilism which he sees rising at Stanford, 
on American university campuses, and in the world generally. "Our 
meritocratic criteria are breaking down," Girard asserted, "power now resides 
in middle administration, which has become devoted to single-issue lobbies". 
"There is a failure of courage, now, of faculty and of senior administration", he 
says. "Many feel that this is only a problem for the humanities and the social 
sciences, but it is a problem also for science," he warned. The problem is 
worsened, in the US, when, "sophisticated nihilism joins hands with American 
anti-intellectualism".

These problems can't be blamed on diversity and multi-culturalism, which 
have their own problems but which generally are healthy trends, Girard 
claimed. Although we have different cultures within our "global village", he 
reminded us that "twentieth century wars were fought for the same, not 
different, desires." The true difficulty, he insists, is that there is a "deficit of 
meaning in our society". "All beginners are radicals," he declared, no doubt 
thinking of his Stanford students, "but today they can only follow failed 
revolutions." "There is a real emptiness at the heart of our society," he said, 
"the spiritual equivalent of the ozone hole". His problem as a teacher, Girard 
went on, is that in this "crisis of purpose", "we do not know what human life is 
about, but our youth would like to know. We need something better than, 'the 
maximum consumerism possible in a sustainable life'". He appealed to the 
audience: "A university needs universality -- scientists must become involved 
in this."

Heilbron, Vice Chancellor of the neighboring and rival university, offered an 
initial smiling rejoinder to Girard's remarks, saying, "Thank you for a 
delicious description of the situation at Stanford." But he and the panel then 
took up Girard's points very seriously, as reflecting concerns which they -- 
the French and Americans and others alike -- all share. Bengt Stymme, 
professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, worried that the "breakdown 
of our common enemy" might have plunged us into a vacuum. Judson King, UC 
Berkeley's Provost for Professional Schools and Colleges, called for a "need to 
teach a way of thinking, not just facts". "Engineering does need a broader 
educational approach," he said. He observed that of all the professional schools 
which he supervises, "only engineering is credited at an undergraduate 
level". "Perhaps engineers also should have a liberal arts background," King 
suggested. He made a personal proposal that engineering therefore become a 
graduate degree program only, with the master's becoming the first 
professional degree, to encourage recruitment of liberal arts undergraduates 
into engineering.

Le'vy of the Ecole des Mines agreed with Girard's presentation of the problem, 
observing that while J.S.Bach had had an easy answer to his own quest for 
purpose in his creativity -- the glory of God -- modern society was having a 
harder time of it. He warned, however, that one of the goals of the French 
Revolution was to disconnect personal opinion from national instruction. He 
challenged Girard: "our schools are not giving education, they are giving 
tools", Levy said, "we should organize opportunities for our students for 
personal reflection", but we "don't want to end up with uniform education". 

Girard responded defensively, saying that nevertheless "the Great Books must 
be taught". He advocates no uniformity, he protested, but he feels that values 
must find their role again in education. His views were echoed by a French 
student on the panel, who observed that, although he felt that Girard's views 
characterized the US situation better than they did the European, nevertheless 
there was a lack of purpose in society perceived by students generally now, 
with a rising conviction that "rationality is no longer a panacea".

Nobel laureate and accomplished teacher Donald Glaser then offered his almost 
judicially-considered views. He first observed that he's been teaching the 
"theory of chaos" a bit, and that he could understand his French colleagues' 
discomfort with ideas which so throughly contrast with the traditions of 
Lagrange and Laplace. It is a discomfort shared outside of France, Glaser said: 
"our cultural life now is subject to a rate of change which we haven't seen 
before". Still, he insisted, "the ivory tower must preserve its independence." 
Glaser inveighed against recent characterizations of "curiousity"-based 
research, as did so many others at this conference. We need both short-run 
applied research and long-run basic research, he said, "we can't starve the 
babies to feed the teenagers -- we need them both." Universities, furthermore, 
somehow must be insulated from all the economic hysteria. The trouble, Glaser 
suggested, not entirely tongue-in-cheek, is that there are too many lawyers: 
"our Congress is all lawyers", he observed, maybe it's time to "teach science to 
the lawyers". Chairperson Heilbron had a rejoinder for Glaser: don't teach 
science to the lawyers, he cautioned, that way "lawyers might become still 
more dangerous."

Girard then took the microphone again to express agreement with some of the 
scientists' comments. The trouble was not with the ideal of reason, he believes, 
which remains a healthy aspiration, but with the wisdom which must 
accompany rationality: our "level of wisdom has collapsed", Girard feels. Chaos 
theory, after all, is an attempt to improve on rationality, he said, not a 
nihilism. But then, in a scene out of C.P. Snow's _Two Cultures_, though, he 
rejected a suggestion, made from the audience, that his liberal arts 
undergraduates therefore be taught more science: "the students need the Great 
Books", he almost pleaded -- "Shakespeare, and Plato, Goethe... " The 
confrontation had become baffling. Outside, through the large windows and 
beneath the tall trees, a Berkeley "crazy", complete with long hair and beard 
and fingernails, dish-towel turban and tattered "saffron" robes, performed a 
slow an elaborate t'ai chi chu'an shadow-dance, indifferent to the fact that the 
world's engineers were trying to decide his fate and that of the world, just 
beyond the windows.


A Conclusion: the French and the Americans -- the Atlantic is a friendly but 
very wide pond.

Senator Laffitte rose again: "We need a dream," he declared. Heilbron agreed, 
and then pointed out to the scientists, "We have been using the words 'vision', 
'mystery', 'mythology', 'purpose' -- these are not engineering terms." Glaser 
mentioned that he himself had enjoyed teaching a special undergraduate 
course at UC Berkeley entitled, "Molecular Biology for Poets and Artists". Then 
Glaser became very serious. There are many problems besides those of 
engineering, he warned us to remember: in the US, "our children have single 
parents or both parents are working...we have a high murder 
rate...'rehabilitation'? we don't even have 'habilitation'!" Glaser's personal 
conclusion is that, "we must make our schools and our families work better": to 
do this, scientists first "must act as citizens".


The French came to this conference looking for high-level visions: for a 
"dream", as their Senator said. They came most immediately concerned about 
the future of their technology education. The Americans, by contrast, came 
looking for relatively low-level problem-solutions. Their technological 
juggernaut is running away with them, at least in the networked information 
field, and they feel they need traffic management-style help in getting it back 
under control. 

Professor Heilbron observed that, after three days, he felt a sense of urgency 
from the Americans not shared by the Europeans; the Europeans, on the other 
hand, seemed to him more contemplative and perhaps more prudent than the 
Americans.  His impression was shared by several who attended. I myself think 
that yet another interesting contribution of the conference was that, by the 
end of the three days, the French had gotten some of what the Americans had 
sought, and the Americans were benefiting from some of what the French had 
been seeking. I heard begrudging praise for the French ability to think 
generally and conceptually, from American engineers who are frustrated 
with the social and political and cultural problems which suddenly have 
reared up around their previously merely technical "Internet". I also heard 
more predictable expressions of amazement and some envy, from French 
participants suffering their first exposures to the latest improvements to the 
almost-incredible Internet. 

Perhaps that's the best measure of a successful international conference: it's 
too much to ask for the French to become Americans, or for the Americans to 
become French, but if it's enough to ask that each walk away from the event at 
least mumbling a bit about what was heard there of the other's approach, this 
event was highly successful -- each side, if it didn't find its own answers, at 
least heard some of the other side's questions, firsthand. If some French 
scientist, somewhere in the "Hexagon", now will push even harder for the 
formulation of a properly-French, high-level, guiding "dream" for the 
development of Minitel, as a result what she saw at Berkeley of the latest 
Internet testbed work; or if an American researcher will pause, for a moment 
longer then he formerly might have due to a discussion he had with a French 
counterpart at Berkeley, to consider the health and environmental and even 
policy implications of some giant distributed processing project on which he's 
working, the Symposium will have been well worth while. 


ISSN 1071 - 5916

end

XXX


FYI France (sm)(tm) e - newsletter        ISSN 1071 - 5916

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