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Machines as art exhibits?
Innovative product and technology marketeer, enthusiastic writer and translator, and author of the ultimately underwhelming blog "Oneday711": technology, travel, sport. Particularly interested in the impact innovation has on our lives - good and bad.


May 28, 2019 07:08

Yes the demise of old industrial tech is sad and perhaps its evolutionary replacement is exciting but there is collateral damage in the process: Ordinary people.
Already we are seeing the effects tech enabled design and manufacturing. An entire generation of young people who don't care about "minority carrier drift conduction" have nothing to do with their lives. Previously, factories absorbed them and they became experts in de-notting threads on looms or tightening slipping belts on pulleys. Now, as we become more "global" the world masses that are willing to work for 20 cents/hr. have put an end to the days when a welder (like my dad) could buy a home, privately educate four children and retire with dignity.
My uncle, who was a components buyer for Bendix, owned a 38 foot cabin cruiser with two inboard six-cylinder engines. Some of his friends had flying as a hobby.
And, it is happening in my field (deep sub-micron IC design). My boss, at the time, was sent to another country to explore design resources there. When he returned he told me he could get 10 engineers for what he was paying me. (I thought to myself, but kept my mouth shut, "I cannot even imagine how many mediocre managers we could get over there for what we are paying you!")
Progress must continue and world markets will eventually stabilize (dampen out) but I also wonder if AI will soon render engineering obsolete. We now can place billions of transistors with a push of the "route" button and present abstraction methodoligies have created circuits that do exactly what we imagined they should do but, we don't know (and shouldn't care) at bit level how they work.
It is easy to think "oh, new generations just need to get better educated so they can participate in the brave new world" but, many fields have advanced faster than the great mass of people have evolved. Not to mention the incredible debt burden that is being borne by graduates today.
One of my millennial kids asked me the other day, "Dad who is going to fix all this stuff when you and your generation have left the stage?" I just smiled back at him.
Again progress will/must continue. But, with a global world economy we must be careful our advancement does not become dependent on a super privileged minority that obsoletes the need for ordinary people.

0 Votes

May 17, 2019 13:00

Great article with some great names of manufacturers in the East Mids.

The other big manufacturing industry is Rail, Derby has been at the heart of this for decades and we still have the Bombardier sites on London Road

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May 13, 2019 10:49

I like this article, and your friend's look back at technology made obsolete by combinations of newer technologies and geopolitical economic changes.

I've also been touched by equipment I have that has similarly been retired by obsolescence, even if still capable of performing its original function. This old equipment sometimes has richness and beauty in both technical and aesthetic design. I feel the echos of the love the engineers and manufacturing crew put into these pieces, and saddens me to retire some of it to disuse and recycling. It saddens me even more as I see the average lifespan before technological obsolescence shrinking from decades in the past to a few years or less these days.

It is a situation for which I have no answer. So I just try to take what design lessons I can from the equipment being retired. I sometimes photograph the pieces as a memory, and take a moment of silent homage before passing the equipment on. The attached photo is of an old cassette deck that had a very clean panel design and beautiful glass-covered meter. I didn't have time to open it up and shoot photos of the insides, but I have had it open before, and it is as tidy and pretty inside as outside. I salute its creators.

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