- A solid take on the promise and failure of "maker culture" and the work that needs to be done to reorient society for a more open and less resource intensive future. Access to tools and new technologies isn't enough- ultimately we are creatures that try to bend the world to our desires, no matter how costly, destructive or empty the outcomes might be. We will have to be persuaded to depart from the stylistic and material expectations of mass produced goods and put more care into the design of open products if they're going to have a chance of upsetting the status quo.
- Keurig's soda machine, the Keurig Kold is being discontinued. We mentioned a bunch of reasons we thought it was a bad idea back in December and it looks like most people felt they didn't need another wasteful, costly kitchen gadget. Unfortunately when a company the size of Keurig makes a product bet that goes to market and fails, many are affected. Over 100 people are expected to lose their jobs.
- Manual laborers might end up being the first cyborg class. Using (and abusing) your body is a fact of life for the manual laborer and experimenting with how to push the limits of the body to boost productivity has long been part of the unofficial job description. Whether it's construction workers fueling themselves past fatigue with methamphetamine or factory workers getting high on break to make it through the high-stress tedium of meeting daily quotas, labor pressures prompt us to compromise our minds and bodies in order to keep up. Using wearable technology to increase powers and maintain human relevance in the face of full automation, old age, or injury seems like a positive development. When/if the technologies of augmented labor pass from the surface of our skin to its interior, it becomes a very different question.
- What it would cost to build Apple's iPhones in the United States. As the article points out, it's not just the costs- the logistics would be far more difficult and the domain knowledge, scale and flexibility of the workforce in China doesn't have a parallel in the U.S. right now.
- The recent story about Foxconn replacing tens of thousands of workers with robots is looking more like techno-optimist bluster than cold hard fact. The amount of money sloshing around via government incentives and initiatives for robotics in China seems to have provoked some dubious claims in the race towards a shiny future.
- A company that has made huge strides in automated manufacturing is LEGO:This recent video behind the scenes of production demonstrates how much making happens totally apart from human hands. The simple, homogeneous nature of LEGO's products (lots and lots of ABS plastic) makes it a good candidate for automation vs the tiny, complex set of sub-assemblies that go into something like an iPhone.