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http://www.techrepublic.com/article/chinese-factory-replaces-90-of-humans-with-robots-production-soars/ Chinese factory replaces 90% of humans with robots, production soars The gravest fear that has rippled through humanity from the technology industry is that, someday, almost all of our jobs will be replaced by robots. While that fear is often laughed off as something that will only happen far into the future, the truth is that it's actually happening right now. In Dongguan City, located in the central Guangdong province of China, a technology company has set up a factory run almost exclusively by robots, and the results are fascinating. The Changying Precision Technology Company factory in Dongguan has automated production lines that use robotic arms to produce parts for cell phones. The factory also has automated machining equipment, autonomous transport trucks, and other automated equipment in the warehouse. There are still people working at the factory, though. Three workers check and monitor each production line and there are other employees who monitor a computer control system. Previously, there were 650 employees at the factory. With the new robots, there's now only 60. Luo Weiqiang, general manager of the company, told the People's Daily that the number of employees could drop to 20 in the future. The robots have produced almost three times as many pieces as were produced before. According to the People's Daily, production per person has increased from 8,000 pieces to 21,000 pieces. That's a 162.5% increase. The increased production rate hasn't come at the cost of quality either. In fact, quality has improved. Before the robots, the product defect rate was 25%, now it is below 5%. Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology, also based in Dongguan, announced a similar effort in May 2015. This region of China is often referred to as the "world's workshop" due to the high number of factories located there.
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http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/sallakanderson20150801The Social Fabric of a Technically Advanced Society Nicole Sallak Anderson By Nicole Sallak Anderson ehumandawn.blogspot.com Posted: Aug 1, 2015 There is so much human potential. I see it everywhere I turn. Yet something seems to hold us back, ever so slightly, from actually becoming a stable species. Yes, we have come a long way, yet at this moment in time it seems we have but two choices before us, begin to cooperate and live in harmony, or destroy everything, including our planet. I’m not sure I’m an optimist, but I don’t think spending too much time on doomsday scenarios is a good use of my time. Deep down I believe we can use our minds, hearts and technology to completely transform the human experience across the globe—taking a world where 50% live on only $2 a day and turning it into a world where technology is shared with everyone—and all humans, animals and the planet benefit from this collaboration. Rather than label such a place utopia, can we simply agree this is the final implementation of the Technological Revolution? Long ago, we began to organize in new ways with the Agricultural Revolution. More recently, the Industrial Revolution changed humanity.We’re now in the middle of shifting into the Information Age, but as long as half of us don’t have running water, live in war torn nations, and die of curable disease, we really aren’t there. We’re half way there. It’s like starting college and taking one hundred years to graduate. And it’s driving us insane. How do we complete the current Technological Revolution? We can’t merely rely on technological advancement to do it, because we can’t create a new paradigm from within the old paradigm. Rather we must step out of our scarcity mentality and create a society that truly supports a technically advanced world. This is a very different social fabric than the one we see right now. Currently our currency is greed, at any cost. Technology is only pursued if there’s profit and thus most people do not benefit from the revelations we’ve made. Our innovation is being held captive by greedy, small, fearful minds and the systems to which they cling. To move forward and truly become a technically advanced society, we must change the story of our lives from competition to collaboration. From fear to courage. From greed to need. Rather than focus on the end of the world, I want to look at the next evolution of humanity. We ushered in the Technological Revolution, it’s now time to complete it and make it a reality across the globe. I’m not sure how to get there, but here are a few key aspects I think one might see if they suddenly woke up in a technically advanced society: An economic system of abundance In his article titled, The End of Capitalism Has Begun, author Paul Mason writes, “…all mainstream economics proceed from a condition of scarcity, yet the most dynamic force in our modern world, information, is abundant and wants to be free.” Of course, many classical economists mock Mason’s premise, but I think he’s on to something. If we landed on a planet with a technically advanced society, we’d see abundance everywhere, because information age would have been fully realized and it will upend everything as we know it. Our businesses since the Industrial Revolution have relied on materials and labor. Information knows nothing of such limitations. “Yet information is abundant. Information goods are freely replicable. Once a thing is made, it can be copied/pasted infinitely.” [Mason] We are only just beginning to see the effects of the information-based economy on our goods and labor force. What once took over 100K employees to deliver (photos developed by Kodak) now takes less than 20 people to implement and issue (Instagram.) Universal Access to Information In a technologically advanced society, all information is retrievable in a straightforward manner. Some call it the “Great Mind” of humanity and I think it’ll be something close. Every thought, idea, invention, picture, item of legislation, etc. will be available online. Nothing can really be hidden in such a world, especially if everyone has network access. Thus the “Great Mind” grows, changes and morphs as more and more people access it, add to it, and use it. Think of Wikipedia on a grand scale. Most importantly, NO ONE is locked out. Network access is a given and every human being participates according to his/her need. In such a world our imaginations will be held as critical assets to productivity. As Mason writes, “The power of imagination will become critical. In an information society, no thought, debate or dream is wasted.” Decentralization of food, healthcare, education, currency, and manufacturing In other words, it’s an open sourced world. Gone are the days of limiting the distribution of life-saving technologies in order to increase the value of a company’s stock. Once the “Great Mind” is in place, anyone can begin to create their products, and then share them with everyone else. Eventually forcing all of our large, monolithic monopolies to come to terms with the fact that they no longer hold the patent, or the exclusive path, to any service. From health care to infrastructure to energy distribution, a technically advanced society is an Open Source society. I think there’s a reason Minecraft is so popular with the youth, they long for such freedom of creativity and sharing in our “real” world. Perhaps they’re on to something. Decoupling of work and personal definition In a technically advanced society, people are imaginative and lithe. They move from task to task as their interior and exterior needs guide. No one choses a career at 18 and remains stuck in the wheel for life, for no job can really last that long. Ideas as well as society’s needs are always changing. Humans are educated to take part in shaping their world and assisting where their current skill set is needed. Yes, there will still be inventors, coders and health care workers, but other work, like cleaning up the environment, teaching the youth, raising our children, caring for our old, bringing countries online, installing renewable energy will also be important. Just as no idea is wasted in a technically advanced society, no work is beneath anyone (besides, we’ll have robots to do the nastiest, most dangerous work, right?) Nor is work the only thing that matters. The main goal of education now becomes enabling children to discover themselves and figure out how the world needs their skills, rather than being told what skills are needed. How could anyone truly know the most important skillset of the 21st century, with technology changing the game at every turn? Better to be inspired and imaginative than intelligent, at least by today’s standards. The arts would also flourish in a technically advanced society because artists and storytellers would be freed from forced labor to enlighten, engage and inspire the population. Today many people spend their working lives doing jobs they think are unnecessary. As David Graber has written, we create “…bullshit jobs on little pay…” in order to prop up our current economic paradigm. We often describe ourselves as our work. A technically advanced society challenges us to describe ourselves as our skills and interests. Universal Basic Income As I’ve written in previous blogs on the topic, I believe the disassociation of work from wages is necessary for us to free our technology and truly advance into the information age. The basic housing, food, transportation and health care costs MUST be granted to all citizens, in every nation. To see one another as worthy of life is a first step. I realize this is a hard thing, but technology demands it of us. We won’t get there with the economics of scarcity, which is why I started this list with the Economics of Abundance. The information age is the great equalizer. The sooner we understand this and guarantee a basic income for all individuals, the sooner we can truly reap the benefits of the promise of the future. Servant Leadership Decentralization still needs leaders, but not rulers. This is often called Servant Leadership—those who are willing to work to create space where other people’s needs are met. We currently have the mindset that to need something makes us weak, but in a technically advanced society, needs point the way towards innovation, improvement and ingenuity. I recently worked at an education conference where George Hoffecker, co-founder of Hoffecker Burgess Consulting and advocate extraordinaire of Appreciative Inquiry, spoke of needs as “life expressing itself.” Our needs, he suggested, are life giving, but our strategies for getting our needs met can be a problem. A Servant Leader does not fix the person’s need, but instead makes space for others to express their needs and be heard. From there, solutions can be figured out together. He also suggested that a Servant Leader often hears the Yes behind the No by making the effort to understand the needs of the one who is showing resistance. This is a very different paradigm than what we see in Washington DC right now, and I’d suggest that in a technically advanced society, the governmental structure we have would need to be dismantled. Servant Leaders need to be close to the people they work for. Local governments would become more important and Servant Leaders would spend their days with the people inspiring them to create a community that at the same time allows the freedom of the individual. How then would we create laws that affects the whole? Who needs Congress, or the EU, when we have… Direct Democracy With everyone connected to the network in some way, be it a telepathic neuro-implant or a Smartphone, legislation can be brought to our finger tips. Reddit-like boards will exist to allow dialogue. Servant Leaders will moderate and encourage us to be civil using tool sets like Appreciative Inquiry to enable the Internet Troll to become extinct. Laws can be recommended, shut down, or modified, and then voted upon by all subscribers. Voter registration is encouraged for all citizens, but not forced. Yes, we’ll need a great security system, and this form of democracy can only exist if the previous six items have been established. In addition, we need an EDUCATED population, but if we’ve decoupled work from identity and wages, the education of our children now has the goal of creating informed, inquisitive and imaginative members of society. Imagine something like TPP or the Patriot Act happening under such a system. Anything can be corrupted, I know. But if our leaders are truly servants and our technology is truly open sourced, many of the issues we see now in politics are naturally removed from the picture, finally enabling us to fully embrace and implement the Information Age. A Planetary Identity Nationality no longer has a place in a technically advanced society. We are all beings sharing the same network, information and data as well as natural resources. Information truly is the great equalizer. Take this example: 3D printing. Trade is completely different in a world of 3D printing from home. Danit Peleg, an Israeli fashion designer, just created an entire clothing line and 3D printed it from her house! Check out her video, it’s amazing and her work will change the entire fashion industry. Now, shopping becomes designing our own outfit, or purchasing designs online and printing out at home, thus creating an online fashion community, with an individual bias. The concept of a multi-international company like The Gap selling slave made clothing falls away, leaving us with a global citizenry. We’re almost there and our social media is bringing us together faster than anything else. Her video went from 1000 views to over 1 Million in just seven days. Good ideas spread like wildfire on a global network. Our planet’s resources are shared. What happens to the people in the Congo in order to get minerals for our iPhones, matters. What happens to the Pacific Ocean garbage patch, matters. No longer can we drain the aquafers in one place without causing a drought somewhere else. We are connected, one people, one race. Rather than focus on national exceptionalism, in a technically advanced society, the people focus on human exceptionalism as stewards of one another and the land, and all cultures are shared and honored. We are the people of Earth. Once we understand that at our core, we will see the promise of technology finally shed its shackles, and we will truly become a technically advanced society.
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http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-08-03/star-trek-economy-and-life-after-the-dismal-science Star Trek Economics: Life After the Dismal Science 91 AUG 3, 2015 8:00 AM EDT By Noah Smith I grew up watching "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (easily the best of the Star Trek shows). There’s one big, obvious thing missing from the future society depicted in the program. No one is doing business. There is almost no one buying and selling, except for a few species for whom commerce is a form of traditional religion. Food and luxuries are free, provided by “replicators” -- machines capable of creating essentially anything from pure energy. Recreation, provided by virtual reality, is infinite in scope. Scarcity -- the central defining concept of economics -- seems to have been eliminated. Is this really the future? Is it possible? Is it something we want? Periodically, economists and economics writers struggle with this question. Back in 2013, Rick Webb and Matt Yglesias theorized that as society gets richer and richer, capitalism and free markets will still exist, but will simply recede into the background. Others have described Star Trek not as a socialist paradise, but as a libertarian one. A writer named Manu Saadia is even writing a book about the topic. So let’s think about the economics of Star Trek. What we’re really thinking about is how to get to economic utopia. It’s an important question. The first thing to consider is how to distribute the fruits of plenty. If we can harness renewable energy to ward off a collapse when fossil fuels run out, then it’s a good bet that increased automation, virtual reality and other technological advances will provide us with a world of plenty unimaginable in previous times. Current world annual gross domestic product per capita, in purchasing power parity terms, is only about $13,000 -- enough to put food on the table and a roof over one’s head. What happens when it is $100,000, or $200,000? It would seem ridiculous to limit this incredible plenty to a few people. When the world gets rich enough, a trivial tax on the rich would be enough to provide everyone on Earth with a basic income that would allow them to lead lives of leisure. Or, as Yglesias suggests, voluntary giveaways by the rich could support the rest, since we might get more altruistic as our lives become more comfortable. Who cares if the robots put us all out of a job, when we can create paradise with just a tiny dash of redistribution? Of course, this depends crucially on the number of humans being limited. As economist Thomas Malthus pointed out in the 19th century, exponential population growth will eventually bring back scarcity no matter how rich we are. Fortunately, it looks like that won’t be a problem -- global fertility rates are converging to replacement level, meaning that world population will level off. It is unlikely that a population bomb will threaten the leisure society. There is also the problem of the dignity of work -- people enjoy feeling needed. But human values change over time, and there seems no obvious reason why people couldn’t get their self-worth from artistic self-expression, or from hobbies. This is the basic Star Trek future. But actually, I think that the future has a far more radical transformation in store for us. I predict that technological advances will actually end economics as we know it, and destroy scarcity, by changing the nature of human desire. In economics, a core assumption is that desires and motivations are fixed, and that our actions are merely attempts to fulfill those desires -- that, to quote 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, “reason is…only the slave of the passions.” But desires and motivations come from the brain, and the brain can be hacked and modified with technology. Someday -- perhaps sooner than we think -- we will be able to change what we want. Reason will no longer be the slave of the passions; instead, the two will do an eternal, elaborate dance, as we constantly decide what kind of people we want to be. That will have huge ramifications for human society. Some people will doubtless choose to simply be satisfied and happy all the time, like MDMA (“Molly”) users but with no risk of drug tolerance or addiction. But these people won't be the ones who choose to be productive. The people out there exploring the stars -- the people on the bridge of the starship Enterprise -- will be the ones who want to be explorers, who choose to be restless and never satisfied. If they are not born with the requisite motivation, they will use advanced technology to implant it in themselves. In other words, the rise of new technology means that all the economic questions will change. Instead of a world defined by scarcity, we will live in a world defined by self-expression. We will be able to decide the kind of people that we want to be, and the kind of lives we want to live, instead of having the world decide for us. The Star Trek utopia will free us from the fetters of the dismal science.
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