For some reason or other, we humans seem to value progress over all else. Is progress all it’s cracked up to be?
There are some disturbing trends out there, I fear that the people putting these events in motion may have not have given much thought to the ramifications of what they are creating.
The first of these trends is the creation of 3D printing.
The first 3D printers were expensive, slow and clumsy but a marvel of technology nonetheless. They cost about $18,000 and they were slow. Today that same machine is $400 and 100,000 times faster. The technology is so advanced that running shoe companies are now producing shoes with these machines as an example.
“Well what does that mean to the average person”, you say?
Well it means that the cheap labor equation that comes into play when outsourcing the production of goods (we consumers always want to pay less) is coming to an end. It means that people are becoming less necessary to make things.
And where does this take us? It takes us to the point where millions of workers will be displaced by gigantic factories with no people inside them except for a handful of maintenance workers and administrators.
It will no longer be necessary to run to China or any of these other cheap producers because labor will be such a small component of the production process. The headaches of logistics nightmares and cultural business differences will disappear because you can build the factory at home and avoid the entire trauma of producing offshore.
But the sword has two edges. No labor means no money in the system generated by wages. Governments will be more strapped for cash because income taxes aren’t paid by machines. Retailers will suffer because there are less people with money in their pockets to buy goods. The list goes on and on with a little imagination. There are winners and losers in all great transformations of society and this one promises to be very scary.
Did George Orwell ever think his fantasies would come true?
By Jeff Solomon