[OPE-L:5643] [PAUL C] Re: labor process and R&D labor

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 27 Oct 1997 09:12:41 -0500 (EST)

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When you start out on an R&D project you dont
know exactly how you are going to do something, but
you have a general idea of what you want to do. You are
going to reconstruct the 3dimensional data in old film
stock to help in recolouring it for example. How to do that
involves research, but you hope that you will end up
with some technique in that area rather than an new
method to clone salmon. Determination is negation,
there are degrees of it corresponding to how much you
rule out.

> From: Gerald Levy <glevy@pratt.edu>
> To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
> Cc: multiple recipients of list <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
> Subject[OPE-L:5643] : Re: labor process and R&D labor
> Date: 27 October 1997 13:02
> [NB: the galaxy server has been acting-up and posting messages very
> slowly].
> Paul C wrote on Mon, 27 Oct:
> > Some R&D labour is
> > certainly devoted to the development of a predetermined use value.
> But is the use-value really predetermined? It seems to me that the very
> nature of R&D involves uncertainty and risk such that what is projected
> be the outcome of the research (the "predetermined" use-value) may or may
> not materialize (or it may materialize in ways quite unanticipated at the
> outset of the research). In a way, this makes R&D expenditures by firms
> similar to gambling and speculation -- the major difference being that
> the firms may have greater reason to believe that their "bet" is going to
> pay-off and they will, consequently, be in the "winner's circle." If R&D
> involves a greater degree of uncertainty and risk then it may be the case
> that some firms, especially those with a high degree of monopoly control,
> may purposely avoid large expenditures on R&D.
> [This reminds me of a very funny scene from the movie "Barbarians at the
> Gate" starring James Garner ("Rockford"). The movie concerned a take-over
> bid by the CEO of RJR Reynolds (one of the major multinational tobacco
> companies based out of the US). Anyway, the scene I am reminded of
> was where a scientist in charge of R&D was reporting back to the CEO
> (Garner) on the development of a smokeless cigarette. It seems that their
> research was successful ... sort of. They did develop a smokeless
> cigarette, but the problem was that it *quite literally* smelt like human
> feces. Garner: "Are you trying to tell me that we spent tens of millions
> of dollars to develop a cigarette that smells like s--t?!".
> it's a good movie suitable for classroom instruction.].
> In solidarity, Jerry