Slightly Off Target


Cafe Alpha

Looks like something from the 80's

I'm sure they have more automated, more precise, cheaper way to do it now.

Saul Wall

"Looks like something from the 80's

I'm sure they have more automated, more precise, cheaper way to do it now."

Possibly, but one of the things that always strikes me about this show is that they display so many imaginative and efficient examples of automation and then have a step where a human does something that seems incredibly easy to automate like reorienting a piece of material or moving from one machine to another. I suspect that the many economic issues involved mean that many much of the possible automation is slow to be adapted due to other advantages such as an industry being already producing the product. Waves of potential automation might build up with companies only implementing them when the ability of a newcomer or importer to undercut them with automation becomes a greater threat than the cost of investing in productivity. It could progress more like a series of avalanches or earthquakes than a constant process of change.

Saul Wall

Instead of "possibly" in the first sentence, I should have said "undoubtedly". The ability of automation technology and our ability to design it into our production systems is constantly increasing and will continue to do so at an accelerating rate as long as the computer technology which empowers the trend does likewise. When designing automated systems becomes less dependent on human intelligence and creativity and more dependent on computer produced designs, this trend will increase further.


I remember reading an article by Arthur C Clarke in Boy's Life (Boy Scouting) Magazine, describing grinding a pair for a telescope BY HAND, saying it took weeks of his time after school with different grades of grit and polish. Basically the way Galileo did it, and Clarke described his wonder at seeing Jupiter and it's moons as Galileo did.

It's been 45 years since I read the article, and Clarke's descriptive power remains.

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