6uwu8KfUTSHc6sHH8HJkCPgZV4w Digital City Briefs - 30 Global Cities: The Future of Manufacturing

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Future of Manufacturing

While manufacturing traditionally employed thousands of workers, the tide is turning in favor of automation, robotics and computer based manufacturing.

For example, a Dutch factory uses 128 robot arms to do the work of hundreds of workers. “One robot arm endlessly forms three perfect bends in two connector wires and slips them into holes almost too small for the eye to see. The arms work so fast that they must be enclosed in glass cages to prevent the people supervising them from being injured. And they do it all without a coffee break — three shifts a day, 365 days a year.”

Clearly, such developments have profound implications on the future of work and the future of human society itself. The classic definition of technology is “to do more with less”, which in itself suggests fewer people for the same task. At the extreme level, some futurists are predicting “singularity”, when machines become more intelligent than human beings and basically take over the world.

Reference: Markoff, John, Skilled Work, Without the Worker, The New York Times, August 18, 2012

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