There are several lessons here. The most politically salient is that in manufacturing, as in cooking, it is possible to “lose the recipe.” And with an accelerating pace of technological progress, it is possible to lose it in an alarmingly short span of time. This is perhaps the strongest argument for some form of industrial policy or trade protection: the recognition that the national value of manufacturing often lies not so much in the end product itself, but in the accumulated knowledge that goes into it, and the possibility of old processes and knowledge sparking new innovation. Of course, innovation is itself what killed the high-end cassette player. But many otherwise viable industries have struggled under the free-trade regime.
The fact is that technology is not embodied in a drawing or set of drawings or any set of instructions. It is embodied in human knowledge. One of the key problems in the industry is the loss of control a customer or prime has when they let a contractor develop the ‘data package’ and ‘product’ with no significant oversight. While the customer or prime may ‘own’ the IP because they paid for it, the fact is that the majority of the capability is embodied in the people and culture of the contractor not in any set of information.
The Hellenic world had machines as complex as early clocks and steam engines of a sort but lost the recipe in a few generations or less. Various complex building skills and wooden machines, metalworking and early chemistry were discovered then lost again and again because the data package was in human brains and examples. This is why the printing press and its ilk were so incredibly important to technological lift off. Along with a culture of progress and invention.
We are far ahead of that world but as above, not above losing the recipe of a complex technology. This is one of the drivers behind Computer Aided Design, Analysis, Documentation, Fabrication. Our cybernetic tools have the ability to record the data package in detail at least for certain classes of things so that we should be able to maintain the ability to replicate things. Making special, small run, even one off technological objects rational rather than nutty.
But at the same time I think that it is likely that the artisanal ethos and products will remain relevant and even increase in value as people shift away from a mind/economy/culture of scarcity to at least sufficiency and if we survive and expand into the universe eventually richness. These transitions will be extremely difficult because they are at odds with many tens of thousands of years of genetic/mimetic coding of our behaviors based on small group hunter gatherers and kin group bonding. Those transition will be enabled by machines that fabricate, even machines that invent. What will happen when humans loose the recipe for technological advancement, because too few engage in the complex enterprise of development??? Is that the point of the Rise of the Machine???
Theres a huge amount of research going on in fields that don’t at first appear to have much to do with each other that could in the next few years to few decades lead to a world where the possibility of building new organs either as replacements or upgrades is possible, even common.
Those worried about the future of employment in America—for themselves or for the country as a whole—should look to this data. As of now, many of the jobs of the future are going to be health care jobs, and that will only become more true if Obamacare stands and the pool of insured patients expands dramatically. To understand what the jobs of the future will be (or to land one), go where the money is: services, and especially, according to this data, health services.
For those unlikely to take up health jobs, this graph might seem discouraging. After all, more doctors and health workers points to more health care costs, in a system that’s already vastly too expensive. As the Atlantic points out on its piece on the graph, “There are a couple stories that branch off from this graph. One is the unchecked growth in health care prices over the last few decades, which has made the medical industry the one truly recession-proof job engine of the economy.”
But there’s also a case of optimism here. The Atlantic notes that the two kinds of health care jobs most likely to grow in coming decades are personal health aides and home health workers. This is good news even on its own; achieving a better balance between hospital care and home care is an important task for health care reformers. Moreover, it means there’s a lot of room for entrepreneurial individualse to come up with new and creative ways to cater to a growing demand for personalized health care.
Read more at: Jobs of the Future in One Astounding Graph
“I would argue that essentially anyone who can spend a couple thousand dollars on a non-industry grade 3-D printer can literally make a plastic cloak overnight,” said Yaroslav Urzhumov, assistant research professor in electrical and computer engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering.
Urzhumov said that producing a cloak in this fashion is inexpensive and easy. He and his team made a small one at Duke which looks like a Frisbee™ disc made out of Swiss cheese. Algorithms determined the location, size and shape of the holes to deflect microwave beams. The fabrication process takes from three to seven hours.
“Computer simulations make me believe that it is possible to create a similar polymer-based cloaking layer as thin as one inch wrapped around a massive object several meters in diameter,” he said. “I have run some simulations that seem to confirm this point.”
A “relief” is an example of what a 3D printed picture could look like.
Etchings, reliefs, contoured renderings of images. But what would a blind Rembrandt create with the right tools, ways for the sighted to gain concept for the inner perceptions of the blind? In the end this will become a new art form.
And a great reason to show a picture of a beautiful woman ( “muse and model” Dita Von Teese),
Photo: Andrew Tingle/Wired
Article in Wired, clothes cusomized to you are coming. The dress was made from several panels of laser sintered nylon giving the dress the ability to conform to the wearers body, cool and slinky sexy, if a bit Metro Goth.
And its an SBIR…Small Business Innovative Research, program, how cool is that on top? The SBIR program is a personal favorite of mine. It basically provides entrepreneurs and engineers with ideas with funds to develop a concept and put together a prototype then helps them either commercialize it or work with a big company to bring to the market or to NASA, USAF, Navy, Army, DoE, DoT, DHS etc. When done right which NASA, the Navy and to some extent the AirForce and Army have done this can provide fantastic bang for the buck. Its only downside is that it can be seen as a substitute for bigger development programs and it’s not. SBIR works for initial concepts, for components, basic materials, small-scale projects (App scale maybe) but it’s not enough bucks to do anything major. The only program that does something similar on a larger scale is DARPA, which is also a world leading organization in this area.
On Thursday, NASA announced the selection of 39 proposals for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards. …… Made in Space, a Silicon Valley company working on 3-D manufacturing in space. Made in Space, Inc.
Moffett Field, CA PROPOSAL TITLE: ISS Additive Manufacturing Facility for On-Demand Fabrication in Space SUBTOPIC TITLE: ISS Utilization Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) Begin: 6 End: 8 TECHNICAL ABSTRACT
Made in Space has completed a preliminary design review of the Additive Manufacturing Facility. During the first half of Phase 1, the design went through conceptual development, simulation testing, cost analysis, and comparison testing of which off-the-shelf parts can be used. The deliverables for Phase I include a written report detailing evidence of demonstrated technology (TRL 5) in the laboratory and will outline in detail the path taken toward hardware demonstration for Phase II (TRL 6). The preliminary design is ready to be manufactured as an engineering test unit in Phase II. A feasibility study was created to demonstrate what could be fabricated for the inside of the ISS (parts and spares) and for the outside (possible satellites). It is anticipated that many of the sample uses that the AMF will make possible on-orbit have not yet been envisioned.
Better chemistry: To produce drugs in a continuous-manufacturing method, MIT engineers had to develop several new pieces of equipment, including this reactor, which enabled a faster reaction and eliminated the need for a toxic solvent.
This is a big breakthrough, this is part of the maker revolution though a long way from maker bot. In the long run such a system can be miniaturized and stocked with a range of precursors which will allow a single system to produce any number of different drugs on demand. In the early days such systems will be huge and hugely expensive but will make drug exploration exponentially quicker and less expensive. In the long-term the system makes the whole pharmaceutical infrastructure we have today obsolete…except that it will probably increase the need for scientists, physicians specializing in individualized medicine, etc, etc. Old jobs go away new ones come on-line. And the new ones will generally be much more about the outer edges of technology and the connection between people and between people and their machines, instead of embedding people as cogs in the machines.
This piece of news popped up all over earlier this week, but the Technology Review piece though short gives it some context. The rapid advances in imaging, tissue creation, stem cell technology, bio compatible materials, low impact surgery and 3D fabrication are being brought together to make things possible that were once fantasy and to eventually overtake transplants in the traditional sense.
While this is fascinating from a sci-fi writer’s viewpoint, the reality is something close to awe-inspiring.