[unrev-II] Automated Factories and Implications

From: Eric Armstrong (eric.armstrong@eng.sun.com)
Date: Tue Feb 15 2000 - 16:41:14 PST

From: Eric Armstrong <eric.armstrong@eng.sun.com>

Henry van Eyken wrote:
> All very valid concerns, Eric. It seems to me that right now we have
> technology coming out of our ears, but we don't use what is between
> those
> ears what we want it to do. I already mentioned a case where
> comerce-cum-technology is moving so fast that we haven't even had the
> time
> to figure out how to enjoy things that are already off the market!
> Maybe we should have a big conference, not of world and business
> leaders,
> but of leaders in the humanities and science fields to discuss: What
> is it
> Henry
> P.S. I would prefer, though, to change the name of the thread to
> "Mental
> arithmetic, calculators, and the potential for superior judgment." H.

At the moment, the market decides what "we" want. And it accurately
does that, for "we" considered as a whole.

Down the road, though, we should see automated fabrication facilities
where you can specify the calculator you want with respect to size,
features, and price. The automated factory will then build it and
ship it to you from parts in the warehouse, much as it builds any of
several million other products it gets requests for.

Since there is no over-production of goods, there are no inventory
losses, and the customization produces a customer-satisfaction ratio
close to 100%, so the system is totally viable, economically. At that
point, you can get what *you* need, regardless of what "we" think.

In general, though, I take your point about thinking through what
we *really* want. To sum it up in a word, I would use *implications*.
What are the implications of doing this or that? What are the
implications of this or that policy, this or that technology, this
or that product?

With respect to complex systems, the effects of policy decisions are
often so counter-intuitive that getting the right policy can be
a very difficult proposition. The "unexpected implications" get you.
Example: Mandating cleaner air by requiring oxygenated gasoline.
Now we have MBTE headed for our drinking water, and already there in
some places. We will be highly lucky to survive such unintended
consequences through the next century.

The interesting aspect of a DKR is the possibility that it will help
us track the implications we can think of, give us a mechanism for
recording the implications we didn't expect, and make us smarter about
predicting implications accurately in the future.

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