A Japanese `Flop' That Became A Launching Pad

Remember Japan's Fifth Generation Computer Project? In 1981, when the powerful Ministry of International Trade & Industry (MITI) announced this ambitious research effort to put Japan in the forefront of artificial intelligence, shudders ran through boardrooms in the West. Support surged for the EC's ESPRIT electronics research effort. Britain convened the Alvey Committee to map a response. And in the U.S., the MCC consortium of 21 companies sprang up to preserve America's lead in computers. Unless action was taken, warned Michael Dertouzos, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Laboratory for Computer Science, the U.S. computer industry could easily find itself in the same position vis-a-vis Japan as Detroit.

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