A worthwhile read from the 3D printing trade publication TCT on how HP used their own additive manufacturing technology to improve part/assembly designs for their 2D printer products. One example that stands out is a sensor mount that they switched from machined aluminum to topology-optimized 3D printed plastic. That change reduced the carbon footprint of producing that part 95%, cut cost in half, and slashed the total part weight 93%. As 3D printable plastics become more capable and generative design tools become more common, incredible improvements in production efficiency (at least for shorter production runs) can be achieved.
Foxconn's project in Wisconsin, already having hit a few snags, continues making the wrong kind of headlines. The company says they may need to adjust the timeline for hiring for the some 13,000 jobs they promised the state in exchange for a massive subsidy, citing changing conditions in global demand for the kinds of goods the contract manufacturer produces. Foxconn representatives say they have hired 1,000 workers to date for the Wisconsin facility.
Robots are great at performing highly routine tasks in controlled environments, but not so adept at dealing the messy variety of the world at large. This means that while factories around the world are integrating robotics at an amazing rate, applications for retail and domestic environments are still limited. A recent 'layoff' of robots at a Japanese hotel demonstrates that in many contexts, robots fail to increase efficiency or perform reliably enough to deliver on the frictionless expectations we have of them.
"An open office might be suitable for a company coming up with new ideas, but when someone has to implement them, it becomes distracting." On how Silicon Valley companies paved the way for the resurgence of open offices, much to the chagrin of the workers that have to use them.
The algorithm killed the blog-star. Caleb Crain writes about how search engine optimization over-indexing for recency leads to low-value content, and a general glut of temporarily relevant but hollow takes: "A blogger who only posted a few times a month was doomed. Over the course of one fateful week, my visitors dropped away, day by day, as Google’s rankings of the pages on my blog were quietly recalculated...One’s only recourse was to post more content, faster! But the sweat-shopping of oneself can only be carried so far, and the psychological costs of trying to always have the latest, hottest take probably aren’t worth bearing." In the face of infrequent likes, retweets, or slackening traffic—how does one justify efforts (to themselves, to others) that appear more and more quixotic? For all pursuits that are not business, we must remind ourselves to resist the nudges of platforms designed for engagement at the expense of all else. Instead, we should revel in the pockets of meaning-making that the algorithms will never reward. Life is more qualitative than quantitative.