1980 Societal Assessment of SPS

65 percent thought the cost would be tolerable. Respondents were in favor of private business, or combinations of government and private business, to both construct and own the SPS. While interest in the SPS was high, many respondents wanted to see more emphasis on alternatives to the present Reference System incorporated into the system definition work. In terms of program direction, almost all respondents believed that funding of SPS research should be increased. In terms of current funding emphasis, a plurality of respondents wanted to see more societal research done and, as previously mentioned, many were not entirely satisfied with the scope of the system definition. Over 60 percent saw international cooperation on SPS as a means of improving international relations, although a majority of respondents saw no problem in making the SPS the basis of sophisticated weapons systems. 2. Public Acceptance1 17 Early public involvement increases the probability of determining SPS public acceptability issues. Public values that are inherently incompatible with the SPS concept and which may later develop into effective public opposition to the implementation of SPS may be identified. Public concerns, identified early, can be addressed and integrated into the development of the concept before a specific design or program option becomes fixed. Public acceptance or rejection of government programs and decisions has become an important issue which demands increasing attention. In areas of controversial technology such as nuclear power, the public has effectively intervened in program development by means of litigation and organized protest, resulting in program delay, postponement and cancellation. Public interest groups have become prominent in the political arena, voicing preferences for decisions and programs which support their respective organizational goals and values. Competing values among organized interests often result in public debate and reflect the variety of public values in need of consideration in program development. Several recent trends make public involvement mandatory and public acceptance increasingly difficult. These are: • Realization of limitations in the natural environment's capacity to absorb impacts of an industrial society