Posts Tagged ‘distributed manufacturing’

Exponential manufacturing 2016

The emergence of distributed manufacturing, fueled by the spread of ever more capable 3D printers, is central to our future, but at the same time, its potentials are kind of hard to understand—where we’re headed won’t look much like what we’ve come to know as “manufacturing.”  Put this promising ambiguity alongside the continued maturation of robotics, especially when networked (and so able to share new training instantly), and we’re looking at a level of autonomy that also challenges many of our familiar ways of thinking about machines, from assembly lines to rush hour traffic.

The good folks at Singularity University are, as ever, out there at the forefront of these innovations, casting a bit of light into topics that most of us can barely grasp the implications of.  This week, they’re hosting the first Exponential Manufacturing conference; sessions are being broadcast live, and with any luck will be archived for future reference.  They’ve also put together an excellent collection of recent posts, billed as a “crash course in a few of the latest developments in manufacturing,” that’s well worth a perusal.  Here’s a taste of what you’ll learn about:

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Automated luxury communism?!?

In the scenario section of The Resilient Investor we talk briefly about the “Star Trek future,” where limitless energy, extraordinary but totally integrated tech, and breakthroughs of consciousness allow everyone to follow their highest calling and contribution. The Earth is without war or poverty (we need Klingons for dramatic conflict), racism and sexism are behind us, and benevolent scientists in concert with farmers, ranchers, and industry manage the climate. The dreamers who contemplate this possible future usually consider it hundreds of years in the future. Clearly we haven’t made much progress on transporters—or war, sexism, and racism, for that matter—but lately I’ve been thinking that the Star Trek future may be closer than we think.

An article in The Guardian provocatively titled “Fully Automated Luxury Communism” grabbed my attention recently. More like tickled my brain and scrunched my face into a “Say what?” Here’s the basic idea: robot tech and smart software is advancing rapidly and the time when we can dramatically reduce the need to work is soon upon us.  If so, let’s be sure this doesn’t benefit just a few; let’s share it with everyone. The article promises a near-future “where machines do the heavy lifting not for profit but for the people.” I also have to say that any article mentioning Star Trek, Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, and A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander et al is going to grab me. Let’s unpack what FALC is all about.

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Ray Kurzweil: Techno-optimism

Ray Kurzweil is an accomplished tech innovator (flatbed scanners, OCR, text-to-speech) and a leading voice/visionary of techno-optimistism, especially the potentials of artificial intelligence, which he likes to term “accelerating intelligence,” to capture the ways these developments will benefit and enhance human thought, decision-making, and insight. His book titles give a clear sense of his vision: The Age of Spiritual Machines, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, and The Singularity is Near.

About Ray Kurzweil (wiki)

Kurzweil’s website
Since 2001, KurzweilAI has highlighted the accelerating change that fascinates Kurzweil, with coverage of important breakthroughs in science and technology. See especially the Videos page, which gathers videos of many related thinkers that Kurzweil feels are worth seeing, and the Blog.

Kurzweil’s TED talks
Includes talks on hybrid thinking, the accelerating power of technology, and the Singularity University project

Projects that Kurzweil is a key player in:
Singularity University
An innovative educational initiative that includes programs for young adults, graduate students, and corporate executives and entrepreneurs.

Global Future 2045 Congress
A 2013 gathering of futurists and techno-optimists; site includes introductory videos from several leading lights, including Kurzweil.

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The State Of 3-D Printing in 2015

Technology think-tank International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that by the year 2020, more than 10% of all consumer products will be available through produce on demand via 3-D printing – in home or through companies offering such services. This article provides an overview of the current state and possibilities of 3-D printing, with an emphasis on the potential market growth of companies in this sector. Read article.

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