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

carbon-based life, computer age, Computer Numeric Control, 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

autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, commoditize, 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

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, commoditize, Computer Numeric Control, crowdsourcing, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, factory automation, Firefox, future of work, global supply chain, global village, IKEA effect, 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, private space industry, profit maximization, QR code, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Rubik’s Cube, 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

"Robert Solow", Amazon Mechanical Turk, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, business cycle, business process, call centre, combinatorial explosion, corporate governance, creative destruction, 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, intangible asset, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, minimum wage unemployment, patent troll, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, 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!, wealth creators, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

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

"Robert Solow", 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, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, British Empire, business cycle, business intelligence, business process, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, clean water, combinatorial explosion, computer age, computer vision, congestion charging, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, digital map, 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, G4S, game design, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, intangible asset, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, John Markoff, 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, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, mass immigration, 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, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, post-work, 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: 307 words: 92,165

Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing by Hod Lipson, Melba Kurman

3D printing, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, additive manufacturing, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, dumpster diving, en.wikipedia.org, factory automation, game design, global supply chain, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, lifelogging, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, microcredit, Minecraft, new economy, off grid, personalized medicine, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, stem cell, Steve Jobs, technological singularity, the market place

The nozzle simultaneously scans the landscape and adapts the blueprint, as it squeezes out a paste made of a blend of cement and some synthetic building materials. The crew member’s job is to make sure no one walks on site during construction. The brains of the outfit is a small computer attached to the construction crane that guides the fabrication process. The neighborhood has been watching the FoamHome project with great interest as the home’s walls slowly grow. What was that old joke about the early days of factory automation? “All you need these days to run a factory is a man and a dog. You need the man to feed the dog and the dog to bite the man if he tries to touch anything.” So far, the slowly growing house looks gorgeous, its walls curved in organic patterns and soft curves and hollows. Nobody could build a house like this with frame carpentry, no matter how many people worked on the construction crew. No one has yet seen the inside of the new home, but rumor has it that your neighbor ordered designer inner walls that will look like they’re made of old-fashioned brick and mortar.

Resourceful businesses, armed with a 3D printer and design software, can provide skilled services of a caliber that were once the exclusive domain of corporate in-house design and engineering departments. While doing research for this book, we learned that 3D printing is taking root in former manufacturing regions, in the economically decaying rust belt of upstate New York and parts of the Midwest. In these businesses, in many cases, employees are alumni of now defunct local manufacturing plants. When their jobs dried up under the dual assault of outsourced production and factory automation, laid off employees faced a difficult decision: should they move away to where the jobs are, or should they find a way to stay put and somehow make it work? In the past, no small business could have afforded to buy an industrial-scale 3D printer and pay for enough computing power to run industrial design software. That’s changing. One small business we visited was founded by a man whose career spanned the glory days of manufacturing in the western world.


pages: 626 words: 167,836

The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, business cycle, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, Corn Laws, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic transition, desegregation, deskilling, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, factory automation, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, future of work, game design, Gini coefficient, Hyperloop, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, industrial robot, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, oil shock, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social intelligence, speech recognition, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade route, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Turing test, union organizing, universal basic income, washing machines reduced drudgery, wealth creators, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

Office employees think the broad impact of office automation is to eliminate jobs and regard the methods changes as temporarily disruptive, but they often welcome change and rarely reject mechanization as such. Attitudes toward change appear to depend on the ability of the individual to deal effectively with change and on the skill with which the organization manages the change. Studies of factory automation suggest that automated plants are preferred as work places to less advanced plants, although they provide important sources of dissatisfaction. The sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction vary over the course of adjustment to automation.43 To be sure, none of these studies surveyed displaced workers, and it stands to reason that those who found their jobs taken over by machines had less favorable attitudes toward automation.

Braverman, who lived through the age of mass production, found that the Fordization of America had accelerated routinization. Machine operations had become even more subdivided. Workers’ jobs were turned into mechanical motions, in which conveyors brought the task to the worker. Such specialization greatly increased productivity in American factories but brought greater monotony for the worker. From this point of view, factory automation can be regarded as a blessing because it meant that industrial robots, controlled by computers, could eliminate the need for direct human intervention in operating machines. Instead of having workers specializing in machine tending, many routine tasks could suddenly be performed by robots with a higher degree of accuracy. As automation progressed, more complex and creative functions became more plentiful.

It is not perfect, but because the system can learn on its own, it is improving at a far faster rate than machines of the past.42 Thus, while robots are still far from having human-level capabilities when it comes to perception and manipulation tasks, they are becoming sufficiently sophisticated to handle gripping tasks in a structured warehouse setting, like picking items and parcels off a pallet and placing them into cartons or boxes. Just as robots entered the factories, they are gradually making an appearance outside manufacturing. Warehouse automation today is probably where factory automation was in the 1980s. It is true that many of the AI technologies discussed above are still imperfect prototypes. But it is important to remember that just about every technology was imperfect in its early days. To most observers, for example, the first telephones seemed ridiculous. Getting used to hearing a disembodied voice through an earpiece was an experience entirely different from any previous form of communication.


pages: 484 words: 104,873

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

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, debt deflation, deskilling, disruptive innovation, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, Freestyle chess, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, High speed trading, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, McJob, moral hazard, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, optical character recognition, passive income, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post scarcity, precision agriculture, price mechanism, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, reshoring, RFID, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Sam Peltzman, 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, The Future of Employment, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, 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: 202 words: 59,883

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

Albert Einstein, Apple II, augmented reality, call centre, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, connected car, Edward Snowden, Edward Thorp, Elon Musk, factory automation, Filter Bubble, G4S, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Internet of things, job automation, John Markoff, Kickstarter, lifelogging, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, New Urbanism, PageRank, pattern recognition, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, 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, ubercab, 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.


pages: 261 words: 10,785

The Lights in the Tunnel by Martin Ford

"Robert Solow", Albert Einstein, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black-Scholes formula, business cycle, call centre, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, creative destruction, 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 Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, mass immigration, Mitch Kapor, moral hazard, pattern recognition, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, Ray Kurzweil, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, technological singularity, Thomas L Friedman, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty

What happens when these assumptions fail? What happens when machines become workers—when capital becomes labor? 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: 244 words: 66,977

Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company's Future - and What to Do About It by Tien Tzuo, Gabe Weisert

3D printing, Airbnb, airport security, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, Build a better mousetrap, business cycle, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, connected car, death of newspapers, digital twin, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, factory automation, fiat currency, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Lean Startup, Lyft, manufacturing employment, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, nuclear winter, pets.com, profit maximization, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, smart meter, social graph, software as a service, spice trade, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Tim Cook: Apple, transport as a service, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Y2K, Zipcar

All this connectivity is set to ignite a revolution in manufacturing, and it’s sorely needed. As industrial systems thinker Olivier Scalabre pointed out in a great 2016 TED talk, every sustained period of global economic growth over the last 150 years has been instigated by a manufacturing innovation—the steam train in the nineteenth century, the era of mass production at the start of the twentieth century, and the first wave of factory automation that began in the 1970s. But today we are emerging from a long period of stagnation. As Scalabre notes: It’s not as if we’ve done nothing since the last manufacturing revolution. Actually we’ve made some pretty lame attempts to try to revitalize it. For example, we’ve tried to relocate our factories offshore in order to reduce cost and take advantage of cheap labor. Not only did this not inspire productivity, but it only saved money for a short period of time, because cheap labor didn’t stay cheap for long.


In the Age of the Smart Machine by Shoshana Zuboff

affirmative action, American ideology, blue-collar work, collective bargaining, computer age, Computer Numeric Control, conceptual framework, data acquisition, demand response, deskilling, factory automation, Ford paid five dollars a day, fudge factor, future of work, industrial robot, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, job automation, lateral thinking, linked data, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, old-boy network, optical character recognition, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Shoshana Zuboff, social web, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, union organizing, zero-sum game

And so the tiger chases its tail. There is ample evidence to suggest that these plants are highly repre- sentative among manufacturing organizations in the manner in which they have chosen to interpret new information technology. One Hon- eywell Corporation survey, which probed human resource planning in- stituted by major corporations in conjunction with factory automation, found that only one company out of fifteen had a recognized method for assessing the human resource impact of factory automation. Not a single firm had a process for actually addressing impacts, from educa- tional needs to work force reduction issues. 5 Another survey of plant managers conducted by Honeywell Corporation among its major cus- tomers for integrated information and control technology found that, almost without exception, the "technology ideal" reported by plant managers was having one screen in their office from which they could operate the entire plant. 6 Ramchandran Jaikumar studied installations of flexible manufacturing systems and concluded that u.s. managers tend to use these systems in ways that rigidify the production process and increase central control, thus missing the real opportunities for adaptibility and customization such systems can provide. 7 In a detailed study of the history of numerical control machine tools, David Noble documents the series of technological choices that fa- vored forms of automation which concentrated knowledge and control in the managerial omain.


pages: 291 words: 92,406

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

Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, factory automation, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), social intelligence, source of truth, theory of mind, twin studies

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: 285 words: 86,853

What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing by Ed Finn

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bitcoin, blockchain, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Claude Shannon: information theory, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disruptive innovation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, factory automation, fiat currency, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, game design, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, High speed trading, hiring and firing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, late fees, lifelogging, Loebner Prize, Lyft, Mother of all demos, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, ride hailing / ride sharing, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, software studies, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, wage slave

In terms of their power relationship to global algorithmic systems, the lives of American cloud workers are not that different from the well-known miseries of Apple contractor FoxConn’s massive facilities in China.44 There workers, some children as young as fourteen, have persistently suffered under incredibly long hours, dangerous working conditions, and other serious problems.45 Terry Gou, the company’s chairman, put it bluntly in 2012: “[We have] a workforce of over one million worldwide and as human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache.”46 So far, corporations have been unable to escape what William Gibson once called meatspace, the squishy realm of biological materiality. Biopower fuels many crucial aspects of the interface economy, though advances in robotics and artificial intelligence may one day eliminate the jobs most of these “animals” hold. In addition to spending $775 million to acquire the factory automation firm Kiva Systems, Amazon is already testing out robot arms and other automated systems that could eliminate the human job of picker entirely.47 Like the intense logistical requirements of Amazon’s same-day delivery services, FoxConn’s conditions are underwritten by Apple’s relationship with its consumers. We expect the company to rapidly develop, prototype, and then mass-produce millions of devices over incredibly short spans of time—sometimes mere months—while maintaining near-total secrecy until the new product can be dramatically unveiled.


pages: 324 words: 92,805

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

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset allocation, business cycle, business process, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computerized trading, corporate governance, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Brooks, delayed gratification, disruptive innovation, double helix, factory automation, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, game design, greed is good, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop - Herbert Stein's Law, impulse control, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, job automation, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, late fees, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, low skilled workers, mass immigration, 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: 347 words: 86,274

The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion by Virginia Postrel

Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, factory automation, Frank Gehry, indoor plumbing, job automation, mass immigration, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, placebo effect, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Thomas L Friedman, urban planning, urban renewal, washing machines reduced drudgery, young professional

Competing with the composite and variable modern future that emerged spontaneously, like the dream city, from multiple images and aspirations was a different glamorous idea: planning. “A perfectly ordered mechanical civilization” could replace unpredictable, stressful, and seemingly haphazard developments with something more harmonious and efficient.53 Here was a future with a blueprint. Social and economic planning promised to control the turbulence that made modernity so unnerving—and to do so in a way that was as scientific as factory automation. “One thing we are confident we know about this world we hope to build,” wrote the industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague, “and that is that it will be free from the confusions, wastes, and frustrations that we can see all around us today. . . . It will have the perfect integration of parts we see today in some of our products that machine production makes possible.”54 Planning offered, wrote the British socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb, “the only alternative to the anarchy of individual profit-seeking,” with “its devastating alternation of booms and slumps.”55 Centralized coordination would eliminate wasteful competition and duplication.


pages: 338 words: 92,465

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

active measures, blue-collar work, business cycle, collective bargaining, Computer Numeric Control, deindustrialization, desegregation, factory automation, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job-hopping, knowledge economy, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, performance metric, reshoring, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, 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: 372 words: 89,876

The Connected Company by Dave Gray, Thomas Vander Wal

A Pattern Language, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, business cycle, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, complexity theory, creative destruction, David Heinemeier Hansson, disruptive innovation, en.wikipedia.org, factory automation, Googley, index card, industrial cluster, interchangeable parts, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, loose coupling, low cost airline, market design, minimum viable product, more computing power than Apollo, profit maximization, Richard Florida, Ruby on Rails, 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: 761 words: 231,902

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

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, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Brewster Kahle, Brownian motion, business cycle, business intelligence, c2.com, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, coronavirus, 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, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, linked data, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mitch Kapor, 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, Robert Metcalfe, Rodney Brooks, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, selection bias, 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, Thomas Bayes, 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: 370 words: 102,823

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

balance sheet recession, banking crisis, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, business climate, business cycle, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collaborative economy, complexity theory, conceptual framework, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Detroit bankruptcy, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, endogenous growth, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, facts on the ground, fiat currency, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, forward guidance, full employment, G4S, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, new economy, non-tariff barriers, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, 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: 372 words: 101,678

Lessons from the Titans: What Companies in the New Economy Can Learn from the Great Industrial Giants to Drive Sustainable Success by Scott Davis, Carter Copeland, Rob Wertheimer

3D printing, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, airport security, barriers to entry, business cycle, business process, clean water, commoditize, coronavirus, corporate governance, COVID-19, Covid-19, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, factory automation, global pandemic, hydraulic fracturing, Internet of things, iterative process, low cost airline, low cost carrier, Marc Andreessen, megacity, Network effects, new economy, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, random walk, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, skunkworks, software is eating the world, strikebreaker, Toyota Production System, Uber for X, winner-take-all economy

When Welch became CEO in 1981, his goal was to trim the bloat and return GE to its nimbler roots. At the time, the press typically referred to GE as “the lumbering giant,” not exactly the reputation that Welch wanted to sustain. Welch was a young (mid-forties) and aggressive leader who saw much bigger potential. His first five years were spent cutting layers of management and pushing decision-making down through the organization. He also invested heavily in factory automation and pushed productivity onto the factory floor, a campaign that culminated in the 1990s with the aggressive adoption of Six Sigma (a system for extreme quality control). (See Figure 1.2.) Figure 1.2: The Jack Welch years (1981–2001). Source: General Electric filings, press reports; Bloomberg Meanwhile he pushed his executives to boost market share and find new areas of growth. Divisions had to be number one or number two in key markets to be kept in the mix.


pages: 431 words: 107,868

The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future by Levi Tillemann

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, car-free, carbon footprint, cleantech, creative destruction, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, demand response, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, factory automation, global value chain, hydrogen economy, index card, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, manufacturing employment, market design, megacity, Nixon shock, obamacare, oil shock, Ralph Nader, RFID, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, smart cities, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Tesla Model S, too big to fail, Unsafe at Any Speed, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Making an automobile that was strong, safe, durable, clean, and efficient enough to be globally competitive required legions of engineers, physicists, specialists in areas like fluid dynamics, harmonics, kinematics, materials science, and an increasingly large number of electrical engineers and computer scientists. A typical car had around 30,000 individual parts, and computing specialists were involved in everything from writing the software for the car’s new onboard computers, to building robots for factory automation, to honing the advanced computer-assisted design (CAD) tools that took the painstaking job of component design out of the physical hands of draftsmen and moved it onto digital screens. About 40 percent of the cost of a luxury vehicle was for electronics, computers, and software. A billion dollars might be spent on writing code before a single car left the factory floor.1 Building a modern automobile required ever-greater levels of precision.


pages: 391 words: 105,382

Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr

Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Airbus A320, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, digital map, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, 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, Joan Didion, job automation, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, off grid, 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: 331 words: 104,366

Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by Garry Kasparov

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business process, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, computer age, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, Freestyle chess, Gödel, Escher, Bach, job automation, Leonard Kleinrock, low earth orbit, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nate Silver, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, rising living standards, rolodex, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

This is a critical point to keep in mind before we criticize or praise anyone for their predictions, and before we make our own. Every disruptive new technology, any resulting change in the dynamics of society, will produce a range of positive and negative effects and side effects that shift over time, often suddenly. Consider the most discussed impact of the machine age, employment. The avalanche of factory automation, business machines, and domestic labor-saving devices that, starting in the 1950s, led to the disappearance of millions of jobs and entire professions, while skyrocketing productivity created unprecedented economic growth—and the creation of more jobs than had been lost. Should we pity all the steel-driving John Henrys put out of work by steam engines? Or the office pool typists, assembly-line workers, and elevator operators who had to retool and retrain as technology replaced them by the thousands?


pages: 378 words: 110,518

Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason

Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Downton Abbey, drone strike, 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, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, microservices, 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, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, 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, Robert Metcalfe, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wages for housework, WikiLeaks, 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: 413 words: 119,587

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

"Robert Solow", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, 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 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, Gunnar Myrdal, 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 Markoff, 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, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, 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, zero-sum game

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: 424 words: 119,679

It's Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, air freight, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, coronavirus, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, factory automation, failed state, full employment, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, Home mortgage interest deduction, hydraulic fracturing, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, impulse control, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, longitudinal study, Lyft, mandatory minimum, manufacturing employment, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, The Chicago School, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, uber lyft, universal basic income, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, working poor, Works Progress Administration

Since 1812, living conditions, pay, and benefits for working people have improved steadily, while unemployment has almost always been lower than when Luddites met on the moors to plan attacks on the hated weaving contrivances. Just because the Luddites were wrong then doesn’t mean they’ll be wrong in the twenty-first century. Already automation has replaced many factory workers. Automation in this sense is not bipedal robots with shiny metallic faces, rather, the contemporary answer to the stocking frame: powered arms that perform repetitive motions, sensors that inspect assemblies, lifts that move weight. Factory automation unquestionably has made factory workers less important, though has also reduced harm to people in manufacturing. The old steel mills and auto plants that commentators and politicians inexplicably sentimentalize were dirty, loud, hot, soul-crushing, and most of all dangerous. The wave of agricultural automation that began a century ago made farm workers less important, and today everyone is better off, while unemployment remains low.


When Computers Can Think: The Artificial Intelligence Singularity by Anthony Berglas, William Black, Samantha Thalind, Max Scratchmann, Michelle Estes

3D printing, AI winter, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, availability heuristic, blue-collar work, brain emulation, call centre, cognitive bias, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, create, read, update, delete, cuban missile crisis, David Attenborough, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, factory automation, feminist movement, finite state, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, general-purpose programming language, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Gödel, Escher, Bach, industrial robot, Isaac Newton, job automation, John von Neumann, Law of Accelerating Returns, license plate recognition, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, natural language processing, Parkinson's law, patent troll, patient HM, pattern recognition, phenotype, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine, Turing test, uranium enrichment, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons, zero day

Over time, much of the grunt work of a military operation could be automated, requiring far less semi-skilled labour. Again, this may or may not involve humanoid robots. Small aerial drones and tiny bullet-proof tanks are likely to be a more useful embodiment. Boston Dynamics has recently produced a four-legged robot that can run effectively over rough country. That is a huge amount of work that could be performed by arthropod-brained robots with occasional human supervision. As factory automation improves, the cost of producing these robots will decline. As that cost falls below about $50,000 then uptake of these robots can be expected to be very high. Leisure society Some people have suggested that all this automation will produce a society with greatly expanded leisure. If 30% of all work (say) can be automated by arthropod robots, then people should be able to have almost 30% more leisure.


pages: 402 words: 126,835

The Job: The Future of Work in the Modern Era by Ellen Ruppel Shell

3D printing, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, big-box store, blue-collar work, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer vision, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, follow your passion, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, game design, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, immigration reform, income inequality, industrial robot, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, precariat, Ralph Waldo Emerson, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, Tim Cook: Apple, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban renewal, white picket fence, working poor, Y Combinator, young professional, zero-sum game

Manufacturers and lobbyists insist on it, and politicians preach it. But as we’ve seen in earlier chapters, there is little if any actual evidence of this so-called skills shortage, at least on a national level. Roughly one-third of US factory workers already hold a college degree, and, like the mechanics, engineers, welders, and other Airbus employees in Mobile, many have gained skills in the military or in previous jobs. Given the rapid advances in factory automation, it’s unclear just how many people should be trained up for jobs in mass manufacturing, no matter how “advanced.” In May 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a $1 billion advanced-manufacturing fund to bolster US manufacturers by offering skills training, such as teaching people to write code to create apps. But the announcement came with a caveat: the cost of this program would be paid with “US money which we have to borrow to get.”


pages: 496 words: 131,938

The Future Is Asian by Parag Khanna

3D printing, Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Basel III, blockchain, Boycotts of Israel, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, cashless society, clean water, cloud computing, colonial rule, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, crony capitalism, currency peg, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, energy security, European colonialism, factory automation, failed state, falling living standards, family office, fixed income, flex fuel, gig economy, global reserve currency, global supply chain, haute couture, haute cuisine, illegal immigration, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, Internet of things, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, light touch regulation, low cost airline, low cost carrier, low skilled workers, Lyft, Malacca Straits, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, Monroe Doctrine, mortgage debt, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, new economy, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, Parag Khanna, payday loans, Pearl River Delta, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, uber lyft, upwardly mobile, urban planning, Washington Consensus, working-age population, Yom Kippur War

SoftBank and Alibaba’s partnership to capture India’s e-commerce market is a powerful example of the emerging commercial triangle between China, Japan, and India. SoftBank will also invest $25 billion back into Saudi Arabia to stimulate innovation in the Gulf countries. Given its aging demographics, Japan is at the cutting edge of technological approaches to managing elderly populations. It is already a world leader in factory automation; now it is automating daily life. At one of the newest amusement parks outside Nagasaki, the check-in staff in the on-site hotel are robots, as are the chefs and waiters in the resort’s restaurant. Softbank’s Pepper robot is now ubiquitous in shops selling everything from mobile phones to pizza. From furry mechanical seals serving as companions in nursing homes to robots with touch-screen faces gliding through hospitals and gathering patient data, Japan is at the forefront of building a hybrid human-robot civilization, liberally spreading its technological innovations across Asia.


pages: 1,025 words: 150,187

ZeroMQ by Pieter Hintjens

AGPL, 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: 514 words: 152,903

The Best Business Writing 2013 by Dean Starkman

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, fixed income, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, hiring and firing, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, jimmy wales, job automation, John Markoff, Kickstarter, late fees, London Whale, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, Parag Khanna, Pareto efficiency, price stability, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, stakhanovite, Stanford prison experiment, Steve Jobs, Stuxnet, the payments system, too big to fail, Vanguard fund, wage slave, Y2K, zero-sum game

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.


pages: 538 words: 145,243

Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World by Joshua B. Freeman

anti-communist, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate raider, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, en.wikipedia.org, factory automation, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, global supply chain, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, joint-stock company, knowledge worker, mass immigration, means of production, mittelstand, Naomi Klein, new economy, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Pearl River Delta, post-industrial society, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Vanguard fund, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration, zero-sum game

Ultimately, all the GM plants were unionized, but many companies, like RCA, found that in moving out of established factories to new communities they might end up with unions, but weaker and less militant unions than they were leaving behind.22 Not all new plants were smaller than the ones they replaced or partially supplanted, but most were. Sometimes this reflected a desire to multisource intermediate or final products, building plants for just some of the production previously done at a larger factory. Automation also led to downsizing. Many manufacturers embraced new technologies after World War II that allowed machines to be self-regulating and perform tasks that previously required human labor. Motives included greater precision and speed and the elimination of physically onerous tasks. But a desire to lower labor costs and reduce the power of workers contributed significantly to the automation drive.


pages: 608 words: 150,324

Life's Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code by Matthew Cobb

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, anti-communist, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, Copley Medal, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, phenotype, post-materialism, Stephen Hawking

As a writer in the New York Times explained, the success of Cybernetics was explained by the fact that between the equations there were ‘pages of sparkling, literate and provocative prose.’5* Wiener put forward a theory of the role of information and control in behaviour, underlining the similarities between animals and machines, and sketched out a vision of a cybernetic future in which automation would dominate: ‘the present time is the age of communication and control’, he wrote. In a postwar world marked by anxieties about the destructive power of technology, Wiener’s vision was simultaneously apocalyptic and humane. He described the ‘unbounded possibilities for good and for evil’ contained in the increased automation of production. This was bold thinking, given that factory automation was in its infancy, and computers were only just able to store a brief program in their valve-based memories. Nevertheless, Wiener foresaw the overall tendency that would characterise production in the second half of the century. He predicted a new industrial revolution that would devalue the ‘simpler and more routine’ aspects of the human brain, as machines began to perform menial mental tasks.


Smart Grid Standards by Takuro Sato

business cycle, business process, carbon footprint, clean water, cloud computing, data acquisition, decarbonisation, demand response, distributed generation, energy security, factory automation, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Iridium satellite, iterative process, knowledge economy, life extension, linear programming, low earth orbit, market design, MITM: man-in-the-middle, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, performance metric, RFC: Request For Comment, RFID, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, smart transportation, Thomas Davenport

The UCAIug works closely with various SDOs as a User Group of many international standards such as IEC 61850, the CIM, advanced metering, and demand response via the Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR). An Overview of the Smart Grid 1.2.2.5 11 National Electrical Manufactures Association (NEMA) The National Electrical Manufactures Association (NEMA) was founded in 1926 to provide a forum for the standardization of electrical equipment. It consists of more than 400 member companies which manufacture electrical equipment used in power generation, transmission, distribution, factory automation, control, and medical systems. The annual sale of NEMA-scoped products has exceeded $120 billion [19]. NEMA has focused on the development of standards and providing solutions for emerging technical, regulatory, and economic issues. It has published over 600 standards and technical papers in building systems, electronics, industrial automations, insulating materials, lighting systems, medical imaging, power equipment, security imaging, wires, and cables.