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Response to LongTomH (Reply #36)

Tue Mar 27, 2012, 12:50 PM

72. Great post. I've been calling it the black box singularity.

Eventually, inevitably, the technology will become efficient enough that for all practical purposes factories will become black boxes where automated systems deliver raw materials in one end and finished products come out the other end without direct contact with humans. This will at some point totally disrupt the capital-labor equation. There will be an economy of course, just not the model that dominated in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Exactly what comes next probably isn't the much hyped "service" industry exactly. I can see huge possibilities in the arts, design, and systems management areas. I also see the implosion of corporate capitalism as the means of production once again becomes local. For example, it didn't make any sense for a corporate blacksmithing company in the 1700s or earlier--you needed custom parts virtually everywhere. With industrialization, most metal parts became standardized and could be manufactured and shipped cheaper and with better (on average) quality than the local blacksmith could produce. A "maker" machine that can create custom, or semi-custom parts and can be owned by a small group, or even individuals totally flips the equation back. Centralized factories making mass produced products will give way to local, custom, commodities.
When you can simply download blueprints and feed raw materials into your own maker to produce anything from a delicious loaf of bread to a fully functioning car (and of course a spare maker machine), that puts a premium on creativity (got a new bread recipe, an idea for safer cars, then trade/sell your template).
There will of course be an awful lot of disruption between now and that future, and there will inevitably be issues with raw materials, energy, and a whole host of problems dealing with the social upheaval that will come with such a profound change. However, it has been the inevitable end game of automation. The genie can't be put back in the bottle, either the bottle gets smashed and the world plunges into dystopia/end of humanity scenarios or the genie unleashes social and economic changes much more profound than the industrial revolution.

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LineLineNew Reply Great post. I've been calling it the black box singularity.
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