factory automation

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pages: 361 words: 83,886

Inside the Robot Kingdom: Japan, Mechatronics and the Coming Robotopia by Frederik L. Schodt

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carbon-based life, computer age, computer vision, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, factory automation, game design, guest worker program, industrial robot, Jacques de Vaucanson, Norbert Wiener, post-industrial society, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, V2 rocket, Whole Earth Review, women in the workforce

One advantage of an authoritarian leadership, however, is an ability to make dramatic decisions quickly. In the summer of 1986, Fanuc formed another joint venture, creating GE-Fanuc Automation with the US. firm General Electric to market factory automation equipment other than robots. In keeping with Fanuc's global strategy of international alliances and a division of labor, Fanuc would supply its NC controllers and other hardware while GE would provide engineering know-how, communications software, and computer technology. In the early 1980s, GE had been a contender for world leadership in factory automation and robotics. But six months after signing its agreement with Fanuc, in January 1987, GE announced that it would abandon the robot side of its business. For Fanuc, this meant the elimination of another competing robot manufacturer and the transformation of it into one more software-oriented ally.

We have to have a consensus." At a huge Ricoh plant in Atsugi, where paper copier machines and other devices are manufactured by people and robots, an introductory video carefully emphasizes that "technology is for human beings, not the reverse," and a brochure illustrates factory automation with a pyramid—of software and hardware on the bottom, and humans on top. Even Dr. Inaba of Fanuc, the Genghis Khan of robots and automation, keeps in mind the limits of technology. In his 1982 biography, he stresses that "factory automation is not to be used to completely un-man the factory. It is a system to reduce labor, and shift people from monotonous to more creative work. It should only be used when this principle is clearly understood." When construction of a new motor plant with 101 robots produced a surplus of fifty engineers, "we had them do work," Inaba writes, "where they could apply their talents.

Waldron (Ohio State University); Yutaka Kanayama (Center for Robotic Systems, University of California, Santa Barbara); Bernard Roth (Stanford University). Industry/Labor organizations: Akihisa Terasaki (Federation of Japan Automobile Workers' Unions); Kanji Yonemoto (Japan Industrial Robot Association); Eric Mittelstadt (Robotic Industries Association); Tatsuoki Masui (JAROL); Tadao Tamura, Toyokatsu Sato (International Robotics and Factory Automation Center). Private industry: Gensuke Okada, Naohide Kumagai (Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.); Seiuemon Inaba (Fanuc Ltd.); Takuya Kato (Kato Seiki, Inc.); Kenichi Natsume, Tsugio Nakamoto, Jun-ichi Chiba (Kyodo Printing Co., Ltd.); Nobuyuki Fujita, Noriyuki Tanaka, Hiroji Mizuguchi, Sumio Nagashima, Tetsuo Suzuki, Masana Minami, Yoshinori Kuno, Michael Caine (Toshiba Corporation); Kosei Minami, Tsuyoshi Miura, Toshiya Yamamoto, Hirokazu Shimatake (Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.); Keigo Ushimaru, Iwato Fujii, Tatsuya Nakamine (Seibu Department Stores Ltd.); Toshi Inada, Kenro Motoda (Motoda Electronics Co., Ltd.); Sueo Matsubara (Automax/Mukta Research Institute); Yoshiyuki Nakano, Hideo Maki (Hitachi Works, Hitachi Ltd.); Kisaku Suzuki, Junichiro Nishimura (Suzumo Machinery Industry Co., Ltd.); Hajime Karatsu, Sukeji Ito (Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.); Kiyoshi Tawara (Yamasaki Seisakujo); Yoshiaki Maeda, Katsuhiro Kawasaki, Shigeru Tabei, Yuki Gessei (JVC-Victor Company of Japan Ltd.); Brian Carlisle (Adept Technology, Inc.); Joseph Engelberger (Transitions Research Corporation); Victor Sheinman (Automatix); Walter Weisel (Prab Robots, Inc.); Eric Mittelstadt (GMF Robotics, Inc.).

 

pages: 49 words: 12,968

Industrial Internet by Jon Bruner

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autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, computer vision, data acquisition, demand response, en.wikipedia.org, factory automation, Google X / Alphabet X, industrial robot, Internet of things, job automation, loose coupling, natural language processing, performance metric, Silicon Valley, slashdot, smart grid, smart meter, statistical model, web application

The industrial internet will automate certain repetitive jobs that have so far resisted automation because they require some degree of human judgment and spatial understanding — driving a truck, perhaps, or recognizing a marred paint job on an assembly line. In fast-growing fields like health care, displaced workers might be absorbed into other low- or medium-skill roles, but in others, the economic tradeoffs will be similar to those in factory automation: higher productivity, lower prices for consumers, continued feasibility of manufacturing in high-cost countries like the United States — but also fewer jobs for people without high-demand technical skills. Everything becomes a sensor Any machine that registers state data can become a valuable sensor when it’s connected to a network, regardless of whether it’s built for the express purpose of logging data.

 

pages: 238 words: 73,824

Makers by Chris Anderson

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3D printing, Airbnb, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Buckminster Fuller, Build a better mousetrap, business process, crowdsourcing, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, factory automation, Firefox, future of work, global supply chain, global village, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Menlo Park, Network effects, profit maximization, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, South of Market, San Francisco, spinning jenny, Startup school, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize, Y Combinator

Much of the reason for this is that manufacturing, the big employer of the twentieth century (and the path to the middle class for entire generations), is no longer creating net new jobs in the West. Although factory output is still rising in such countries as the United States and Germany, factory jobs as a percentage of the overall workforce are at all-time lows. This is due partly to automation, and partly to global competition driving out smaller factories. Automation is here to stay—it’s the only way large-scale manufacturing can work in rich countries (see chapter 9). But what can change is the role of the smaller companies. Just as startups are the driver of innovation in the technology world, and the underground is the driver of new culture, so, too, can the energy and creativity of entrepreneurs and individual innovators reinvent manufacturing, and create jobs along the way.

Wages in the industrial provinces such as Guangdong are rising at 17 percent per year, and the creeping revaluing of the yuan only makes that worse in real terms. American workers are also up to three times more productive (not because they’re necessarily more skilled or harder-working, but because they tend to be matched with more automation, which amplifies individual productivity). The Boston Consulting Group estimates that the net cost of manufacturing in China will be the same as that in the United States by 2015.39 And as factory automation becomes more powerful, the labor component of the average product drops. And that means that the traditional labor arbitrage arguments for moving manufacturing jobs overseas will diminish. Right now, in the automotive industry, labor represents less than 15 percent of the cost of the vehicle (the United Auto Workers union claims that it is just 10 percent, but that includes only assembly-line workers, not office, management, and R&D).

 

pages: 72 words: 21,361

Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy by Erik Brynjolfsson

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Amazon Mechanical Turk, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, business process, call centre, combinatorial explosion, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, hiring and firing, income inequality, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, labour mobility, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, minimum wage unemployment, patent troll, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, shareholder value, Skype, too big to fail, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy

For all three sets of winners and losers, the news is troubling. Let’s look at each in turn. 1. High-Skilled vs. Low-Skilled Workers We’ll start with skill-biased technical change, which is perhaps the most carefully studied of the three phenomena. This is technical change that increases the relative demand for high-skill labor while reducing or eliminating the demand for low-skill labor. A lot of factory automation falls into this category, as routine drudgery is turned over to machines while more complex programming, management, and marketing decisions remain the purview of humans. A recent paper by economists Daron Acemoglu and David Autor highlights the growing divergence in earnings between the most-educated and least-educated workers. Over the past 40 years, weekly wages for those with a high school degree have fallen and wages for those with a high school degree and some college have stagnated.

 

pages: 339 words: 88,732

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, British Empire, business intelligence, business process, call centre, clean water, combinatorial explosion, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, employer provided health coverage, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, falling living standards, Filter Bubble, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, full employment, game design, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, law of one price, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, means of production, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, payday loans, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, six sigma, Skype, software patent, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, telepresence, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, Y2K

Each time the task changes—each time the location of the screw holes move, for example—production must stop until the machinery is reprogrammed. Today’s factories, especially large ones in high-wage countries, are highly automated, but they’re not full of general-purpose robots. They’re full of dedicated, specialized machinery that’s expensive to buy, configure, and reconfigure. Rethinking Factory Automation Rodney Brooks, who co-founded iRobot, noticed something else about modern, highly automated factory floors: people are scarce, but they’re not absent. And a lot of the work they do is repetitive and mindless. On a line that fills up jelly jars, for example, machines squirt a precise amount of jelly into each jar, screw on the top, and stick on the label, but a person places the empty jars on the conveyor belt to start the process.

With technology as a multiplier, an economy is able to produce more output each year with the same inputs, including labor. And in the basic model all labor is affected equally by technology, meaning every hour worked produces more value than it used to. A slightly more complex model allows for the possibility that technology may not affect all inputs equally, but rather may be ‘biased’ toward some and against others. In particular, in recent years, technologies like payroll processing software, factory automation, computer-controlled machines, automated inventory control, and word processing have been deployed for routine work, substituting for workers in clerical tasks, on the factory floor, and doing rote information processing. By contrast, technologies like big data and analytics, high-speed communications, and rapid prototyping have augmented the contributions made by more abstract and data-driven reasoning, and in turn have increased the value of people with the right engineering, creative, or design skills.

 

pages: 484 words: 104,873

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, debt deflation, deskilling, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, Freestyle chess, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, High speed trading, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Lyft, manufacturing employment, McJob, moral hazard, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, optical character recognition, passive income, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, precision agriculture, price mechanism, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, reshoring, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, strong AI, Stuxnet, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, very high income, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce

That results in an astonishing ability to rapidly ramp up production or adjust to product design changes, but it also puts extreme pressure on workers—as evidenced by the near epidemic of suicides that occurred at Foxconn facilities in 2010. Robots, of course, have the ability to work continuously, and as they become more flexible and easier to train for new tasks, they will become an increasingly attractive alternative to human workers, even when wages are low. The trend toward increased factory automation in developing countries is by no means limited to China. Clothing and shoe production, for example, continues to be one of the most labor-intensive sectors of manufacturing, and factories have been transitioning from China to even lower-wage countries like Vietnam and Indonesia. In June 2013, athletic-shoe manufacturer Nike announced that rising wages in Indonesia had negatively impacted its quarterly financial numbers.

The technology will be used where it is most cost-effective: for example, in creating those parts that need to be customized, or perhaps in printing complex components that would otherwise require extensive assembly. Where 3D printing can’t be used to directly fabricate high-volume parts, it will often find a role in rapidly creating the molds and tools required in traditional manufacturing techniques. In other words, 3D printing is likely to end up being another form of factory automation. Manufacturing robots and industrial printers will work in unison—and increasingly without the involvement of workers. Three-dimensional printers can be used with virtually any type of material, and the technology is finding many important uses outside of manufacturing. Perhaps the most exotic application is in printing human organs. San Diego–based Organovo, a company that specializes in bio-printing, has already fabricated experimental human liver and bone tissue by 3D-printing material containing human cells.

 

pages: 261 words: 10,785

The Lights in the Tunnel by Martin Ford

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Albert Einstein, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, factory automation, full employment, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, moral hazard, pattern recognition, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, Ray Kurzweil, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Thomas L Friedman, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty

What happens when machines become workers—when capital becomes labor? Copyrighted Material – Paperback/Kindle available @ Amazon THE LIGHTS IN THE TUNNEL / 98 It is important to note that such a change in the relationship between workers and machines will have a worldwide impact. Advanced machine automation will come to low wage countries as well as developed nations. A 2003 article in AutomationWorld pointed out that “productivity gains spawned by factory automation are driving a worldwide decline in manufacturing jobs, even in developing nations.”33 According to the article, even back in 2003, automation was causing significant job loss in Brazil, India and China. We cannot succumb to the temptation to assume that the rising middle classes in China and India are going to solve the demand problem. Our simulation in Chapter 1 used just one tunnel to represent the entire world mass market.

 

pages: 202 words: 59,883

Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy by Robert Scoble, Shel Israel

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Albert Einstein, Apple II, augmented reality, call centre, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, connected car, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, factory automation, Filter Bubble, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Internet of things, job automation, Kickstarter, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, New Urbanism, PageRank, pattern recognition, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, sensor fusion, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart grid, social graph, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Tesla Model S, Tim Cook: Apple, urban planning, Zipcar

Because sensors seem to be watching and listening to you, as well as understanding what you are doing, they, like big data, sometimes freak people out. Sensors go back a very long way. In the mid-1600s Evangelista Torricelli, an Italian physicist, invented a way to measure atmospheric pressure by using mercury in a vacuum tube called a Torricellian Tube. Most people know it as a barometer. Sensors’ full capability began about 50 years ago when factory automation started to come into play. Unlike people, sensors work tirelessly, never needing sleep and never demanding a raise. They notice changes where humans miss them, thus ensuring labels are correctly affixed to bottles moving through a factory assembly line. They are used in nuclear power plants for early detection of leaks. Some semiconductor foundries, such as TSMC in Taiwan, are attempting to build what’s known as “lights-out factories,” where sensors will eliminate the need for any employees at all.

 

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil

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additive manufacturing, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Brewster Kahle, Brownian motion, business intelligence, c2.com, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, factory automation, friendly AI, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, linked data, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Mikhail Gorbachev, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, premature optimization, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, remote working, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Coming Technological Singularity, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Y2K, Yogi Berra

The system is then able to apply the reasoning from its stored cases to new situations. Robots are extensively used in manufacturing. The latest generation of robots uses flexible Al-based machine-vision systems—from companies such as Cognex Corporation in Natick, Massachusetts—that can respond flexibly to varying conditions. This reduces the need for precise setup for the robot to operate correctly. Brian Carlisle, CEO of Adept Technologies, a Livermore, California, factory-automation company, points out that "even if labor costs were eliminated [as a consideration], a strong case can still be made for automating with robots and other flexible automation. In addition to quality and throughput, users gain by enabling rapid product changeover and evolution that can't be matched with hard tooling." One of AI's leading roboticists, Hans Moravec, has founded a company called Seegrid to apply his machine-vision technology to applications in manufacturing, materials handling, and military missions.203 Moravec's software enables a device (a robot or just a material-handling cart) to walk or roll through an unstructured environment and in a single pass build a reliable "voxel" (three-dimensional pixel) map of the environment.

In my current projects teams of just three or four people achieve in a few months objectives that are comparable to what twenty-five years ago required a team of a dozen or more people working for a year or more. Software Complexity. Twenty years ago software programs typically consisted of thousands to tens of thousands of lines. Today, mainstream programs (for example, supply-channel control, factory automation, reservation systems, biochemical simulation) are measured in millions of lines or more. Software for major defense systems such as the Joint Strike Fighter contains tens of millions of lines. Software to control software is itself rapidly increasing in complexity. IBM is pioneering the concept of autonomic computing, in which routine information-technology support functions will be automated.7 These systems will be programmed with models of their own behavior and will be capable, according to IBM, of being "self-configuring, self-healing, self-optimizing, and self-protecting."

 

pages: 291 words: 92,406

Thinking in Pictures: And Other Reports From My Life With Autism by Temple Grandin

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Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, factory automation, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, theory of mind

Highly specific visual thinkers should skip algebra and study more visual forms of math such as trigonometry or geometry. Children who are visual thinkers will often be good at drawing, other arts, and building things with building toys such as Legos. Many children who are visual thinkers like maps, flags, and photographs. Visual thinkers are well suited to jobs in drafting, graphic design, training animals, auto mechanics, jewelry making, construction, and factory automation. 2. Music and math thinkers think in patterns. These people often excel at math, chess, and computer programming. Some of these individuals have explained to me that they see patterns and relationships between patterns and numbers instead of photographic images. As children they may play music by ear and be interested in music. Music and math minds often have careers in computer programming, chemistry, statistics, engineering, music, and physics.

 

pages: 378 words: 110,518

Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason

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Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, financial repression, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, post-industrial society, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, wages for housework, women in the workforce

During the 1880s and 90s, new technologies are developed in response to economic and social crises, coming together at the start of the third cycle. 1890s–1945: In the third cycle heavy industry, electrical engineering, the telephone, scientific management and mass production are the key technologies. The break occurs at the end of the First World War; the 1930s Depression, followed by the destruction of capital during the Second World War terminate the downswing. Late-1940s–2008: In the fourth long cycle transistors, synthetic materials, mass consumer goods, factory automation, nuclear power and automatic calculation create the paradigm – producing the longest economic boom in history. The peak could not be clearer: the oil shock of October 1973, after which a long period of instability takes place, but no major depression. In the late–1990s, overlapping with the end of the previous wave, the basic elements of the fifth long cycle appear. It is driven by network technology, mobile communications, a truly global marketplace and information goods.

 

pages: 324 words: 92,805

The Impulse Society: America in the Age of Instant Gratification by Paul Roberts

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, accounting loophole / creative accounting, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset allocation, business process, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, crony capitalism, David Brooks, delayed gratification, double helix, factory automation, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, game design, greed is good, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, impulse control, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, late fees, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, low skilled workers, new economy, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, performance metric, postindustrial economy, profit maximization, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, reshoring, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Walter Mischel, winner-take-all economy

Here is the real crisis in innovation under the Impulse Society. Where innovation was once a tool to improve the productivity of the entire economy—companies and workers, capital and labor—it’s more exclusive today. Increasingly, innovation improves the productivity of capital, via faster returns, while leaving labor’s productivity largely unchanged, or even slowed. For instance, where early moves toward factory automation were generally associated with increased worker productivity—that is, each factory worker could now produce more output per hour and thus merit a higher wage—the “innovation” of offshoring has often yielded lower worker productivity. Chinese factory workers in the 1990s were substantially less productive than their U.S. counterparts,15 which companies compensated for by piling on more workers.

 

pages: 370 words: 102,823

Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth by Michael Jacobs, Mariana Mazzucato

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3D printing, balance sheet recession, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, business climate, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collaborative economy, complexity theory, conceptual framework, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Detroit bankruptcy, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, facts on the ground, fiat currency, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, Internet of things, investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, new economy, non-tariff barriers, paradox of thrift, price stability, private sector deleveraging, quantitative easing, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, the built environment, The Great Moderation, The Spirit Level, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, very high income

The problem is that, contrary to Marx, the introduction and diffusion of the more automated technology did not undermine the position of the adult-male mule spinners in the production process.17 Well into the twentieth century, adult-male mule spinners, known as ‘minders’, remained the principal workers on the ‘self-acting’ machines, and indeed by the final decades of the nineteenth century had become one of the best-organised and best-financed craft unions in Britain.18 More generally, even in the presence of factory automation, skilled shop-floor workers remained central to British manufacturing into the second half of the twentieth century.19 An understanding of where Marx went wrong is of substantial relevance for understanding the sources of productivity growth in the capitalist economy, not only in his time but also in ours. The mechanisation of certain motions on mule spinning machines that led them to be described as ‘self-acting’ still left a number of other functions that required the constant attention of experienced workers.

 

pages: 391 words: 105,382

Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr

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Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Kevin Kelly, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

In 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration reported that an overreliance on automation has become a major factor in air disasters and urged airlines to give pilots more opportunities to fly manually. The best way to make flying even safer than it already is, the agency’s research suggests, may be to transfer some responsibility away from computers and back to people. Where humans and machines work in concert, more automation is not always better. That’s a lesson that the Toyota Motor Company, a leader in factory automation, has learned the hard way. In recent years, the carmaker has had to recall millions of vehicles to fix defects, putting a dent in its profits and tarnishing its prized reputation for quality. It now believes that its manufacturing problems stem from a loss of human insight and talent. “We need to become more solid and get back to basics,” a company executive told Bloomberg News, “to sharpen our manual skills and further develop them.”

 

pages: 372 words: 89,876

The Connected Company by Dave Gray, Thomas Vander Wal

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A Pattern Language, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, complexity theory, en.wikipedia.org, factory automation, Googley, index card, interchangeable parts, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, loose coupling, market design, minimum viable product, more computing power than Apollo, profit maximization, Richard Florida, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, Vanguard fund, web application, WikiLeaks, Zipcar

It was all about wa and nemawashi—the uniquely Japanese spirit of cooperation and consultation that Toyota had cultivated with its employees. We were sure that American workers would never put up with these paternalistic practices. Then, of course, Toyota started building plants in the United States, and they got the same results here they got in Japan—so our cultural excuse went out the window. For the next five years, we focused on Toyota’s manufacturing processes. We studied their use of factory automation, their supplier relationships, just-in-time systems, everything. But despite all our benchmarking, we could never seem to get the same results in our own factories. It’s only in the last five years that we’ve finally admitted to ourselves that Toyota’s success is based on a wholly different set of principles—about the capabilities of its employees and the responsibilities of its leaders. Do You Work at a Place that Ignites Your Passion?

 

pages: 338 words: 92,465

Reskilling America: Learning to Labor in the Twenty-First Century by Katherine S. Newman, Hella Winston

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blue-collar work, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, desegregation, factory automation, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job-hopping, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, performance metric, reshoring, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, two tier labour market, union organizing, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Wolfgang Streeck, working poor

Technical colleges offer a variety of programs and credentials, including AA degrees, certificate programs, and tailored “contract programs” that they design and implement for companies upon request. At Piedmont Technical College’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Laurens, South Carolina, fifteen young men (no women) are working in small groups, building model conveyor belts using a combination of sensors (inductive and optical) and a software program. Most of them are in a two-year AA program, working toward a degree in mechatronics, which one of them describes as “the study of factory automation.” Some of the students in the class came to Piedmont Technical College (PTC) right out of high school, while others took a less direct route: They held low-wage fast-food jobs or low-skill factory jobs. PTC’s promotional materials emphasize that its graduates will be “career ready” the day they graduate and will earn 30 percent more than high-school graduates (they also note that some graduates start out earning more than $50,000 a year).

 

pages: 1,025 words: 150,187

ZeroMQ by Pieter Hintjens

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anti-pattern, carbon footprint, cloud computing, Debian, distributed revision control, domain-specific language, factory automation, fault tolerance, fear of failure, finite state, Internet of things, iterative process, premature optimization, profit motive, pull request, revision control, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Skype, smart transportation, software patent, Steve Jobs, Valgrind, WebSocket

On Up-Front Testing Being able to fully test the real behavior of individual components in the laboratory can make a 10x or 100x difference to the cost of your project. That confirmation bias engineers have to their own work makes up-front testing incredibly profitable, and late-stage testing incredibly expensive. I’ll tell you a short story about a project we worked on in the late 1990s. We provided the software, and other teams the hardware, for a factory automation project. Three or four teams brought their experts on-site, which was a remote factory (funny how the polluting factories are always in a remote border country). One of these teams, a firm specializing in industrial automation, built ticket machines: kiosks, and software to run on them. Nothing unusual: swipe a badge, choose an option, receive a ticket. They assembled two of these kiosks on-site, each week bringing some more bits and pieces.

 

pages: 413 words: 119,587

Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

It was a system that required discipline, and Bradski was a bit of a “Wild Duck”—a term that IBM originally used to describe employees who refused to fly in formation—compared to typical engineers in Intel’s regimented semiconductor manufacturing culture. A refugee from the high-flying finance world of “quants” on the East Coast, Bradski arrived at Intel in 1996 and was forced to spend a year doing boring grunt work, like developing an image-processing software library for factory automation applications. After paying his dues, he was moved to the chipmaker’s research laboratory and started researching interesting projects. Bradski had grown up in Palo Alto before leaving to study physics and artificial intelligence at Berkeley and Boston University. He returned because he had been bitten by the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial bug. For a while he wrote academic research papers about machine vision, but he soon learned that there was no direct payoff.

 

pages: 514 words: 152,903

The Best Business Writing 2013 by Dean Starkman

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Asperger Syndrome, bank run, Basel III, call centre, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, Columbine, computer vision, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, Exxon Valdez, factory automation, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, hiring and firing, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, jimmy wales, job automation, late fees, London Whale, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, price stability, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, the payments system, too big to fail, Vanguard fund, wage slave, Y2K

Each robot replaces two to five workers at Earthbound, according to John Dulchinos, an engineer who is the chief executive at Adept Technology, a robot maker based in Pleasanton, Calif., that developed Earthbound’s system. Robot manufacturers in the United States say that in many applications, robots are already more cost-effective than humans. At an automation trade show last year in Chicago, Ron Potter, the director of robotics technology at an Atlanta consulting firm called Factory Automation Systems, offered attendees a spreadsheet to calculate how quickly robots would pay for themselves. In one example, a robotic manufacturing system initially cost $250,000 and replaced two machine operators, each earning $50,000 a year. Over the fifteen-year life of the system, the machines yielded $3.5 million in labor and productivity savings. The Obama administration says this technological shift presents a historic opportunity for the nation to stay competitive.