Michael Van den Bossche

Sales Representative, Whirlpool Corporation

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What impact would self-assembly products have on our economy? I.e. Production, spare parts, jobs,...

Speaking of a paradigm, this is definitely one! :)

If we would start building these self-assembly products, it would definitely mean that lots of spare parts wouldn't be needed, lots of technicians would lose there jobs, less logistic organization, etc,...

But where do you see this going?
I truly believe that this can work, although people would start losing their jobs, this would definitely create new opportunities, people instead of focussing them on technical aspects, could now focus themselves on other area's in their lives, e.g. ideas for the climate change...

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    Apr 7 2013: Our ability to innovate beyond the industrial model is well-underway--the service sector is huge in Western countries; automation of repetitive to complex tasks; the majority of students are being trained for thought, not hands-on industries etc.

    But, I think it's problematic that we somehow refuse to let go of the industrial-era idea that everyone still needs to slave-away for most of their life at "jobs". If our time is being more and more liberated, things are getting safer and more convenient--then we need to innovate an economy that refocuses that extra time and health we have for: Things That Really Matter.

    We ourselves are like products of a 4-D printer--ever shape-shifting to our technologies and environment--however, we can't seem to think beyond an isolated cool adaptation. What is our system-wide plan after something changes? Like if cancer could be treated by 4-D nano-molecules cutting off the food supply of cancerous cells--would we be sad that zillions of university research departments and drug companies have nothing to do? Ironically, cancer feeds these jobs--and people would be upset about it. In fact, I think a lot of master solutions/ products are actually suppressed because of this inability to move on.

    We need to incentivize master solutions, and actively plan for industries' (not just products') obsolescence. Moreover, we need to develop a society that stops chasing after consumer-product economies and its jobs, and build a non-economics based existence.
    • Apr 7 2013: "it's problematic that we somehow refuse to let go of the industrial-era idea that everyone still needs to slave-away for most of their life at "jobs""

      Word. Buckminster Fuller said something along the same lines:

      "We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living."
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        Apr 7 2013: Word! :)
        • Apr 11 2013: I am new and they censored me. I am a newby and am still learning the ropes.
    • Apr 8 2013: ----I think it's problematic that we somehow refuse to let go of the industrial-era idea that everyone still needs to slave-away for most of their life at "jobs".----

      and lets not get too erudite, people need manufacturing jobs, or are you happy to see the whole of the Philippine people suffer a technological induced genocide via starvation. Even now there are guards there with shotguns outside supermarkets...
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        Apr 9 2013: 1. I don't think anyone is suggesting an overnight change.

        2. Anyway, manufacturing will leave the Philippines and South East Asia as it is with the rise of African labour. They need a plan anyhow. Plan for the obsolescence of industries--isn't that just inevitable?

        3. Given its arable land and climate, I'd say any threat of starvation by the people of the Phillipines is directly tied to things like developed manufacturing. What policies have been rammed through to disconnect the proprietorship of the land from its people who depend on it? Isn't that more important to address? Arable land sold to private (manufacturing / mining) industries is the very cause of starvation.

        4. Corruption, once thought to be impossible to conquer (and one could even argue that it helped usher through projects that helped certain economies that otherwise would have had nothing), could only end once everyone involved could agree to let it go. (A great talk by Peter Eigen, who actually led it among European countries).


        The nasty fishing industry around Tanzania in Lake Victoria provides jobs, prostitution, arms smuggling and starvation. You're right that it is difficult to unpack all the damage / good of a decision to dismantle an industry--but a long-term goal of health and sustainability needs to win over, for a change.
        • Apr 9 2013: just a note for you Genevieve, I like in Africa, the 2 paragraph wont happen.

          It's a long discussion of the differences of culture, work, environment, and many other things, but there is no way the companies involved will move here.

          para 3. Is about debt, the IMF and World bank want repayments, ie the interest on the $30b that the marcos's got. They the people, the country are still paying that back. When 1/2 your countries gdp goes like this, then there are only two resources you have, labor and minerals. So arable land is sold to corp's to build factories to gain foreign $. And the earth is ravaged, deforestation, mainly teak, again for the same reason. And that's why when the floods twice recently hit se asia, there is no protection, you've deforested the protection.

          So the question is globally are we going to take manufacturing away from them too? What are they going to do? There is no money for re-training, is everyone going to be consigned to...either starve or eak out what existence they can on Smokey Mountain.

          Search for "smokey mountain philippines" ... the image maybe distressing.

          But they better than the words I've given portray whats happening there.
      • Apr 9 2013: Let me also point out that the automation of manufacturing has been preceded by automation and mass production in agriculture. Like in the U. S. A.. You will be astonished that how much human labor was needed in agriculture grain and food production to feed millions of people in the U. S. A. nowadays. As a matter of fact, at this very minute in time, the advancement ( in the sense of manpower and material use efficiency in agriculture is far better than production in industrial consumer goods production. So you will see that the labor force for food production will go at least as fast as the manufacturing labors.
        So starvation won't be the problem in the future.
        Yes, we should try to transfer our daily time and effort to:
        1. train people to learn how to take care of the increasing group of elderly, as well as the children. Even with ample availability of consumer goods and robots (robots are essential for the care of disabled elderly by the caretakers in order to reduce the arduous physical effort of their work), human care still needs some human touch, so that the children and elderly can feel a little empathy or warmth from another human being.
        2. (we can afford to) develop skills in art, music, handicraft of artful values, and entertainment.
        And 3. devote more time in education and literature, not only for our fellow man but also to leave our history and footprints to our future generation.
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      Apr 9 2013: I think it's problematic that we somehow refuse to let go of the industrial-era idea that everyone still needs to slave-away for most of their life at "jobs".

      The problem for 99% of the people here is the addiction to consuming. And that is what feeds the idea of needing a job, "making their living" in order to get something. We should find a way of stepping out of these routines and addictions. That will be the beginning of a new era. And as usual, change comes most of the time at a slow paste, but we have to plant these seeds right now. We can start doing so by just becoming aware of how addicted we are, and what the hell we are doing on this planet earth, start thinking again about our purpose in life,.. are we really happy consuming, working like slaves,... or is there something better deep inside of us
    • Apr 11 2013: Sorry lady, we all go into industrial obsolescence -- we all grow old. Do not despair. Grandchildren or young children are the silver lining of, well, silver hairlines. Corporate, Government, Non-for-Profit Organization, and Religion Bureaucracies are the dreary part of life -- you know man against the Corporation/State/Self-Perpetuating-Problem-Organization/Religion. I love my family and friends. And, of course k-9's.
  • Apr 11 2013: How about starting with some repair assembly first? How much energy/resources are wasted for products that have many years of useful life left if it were not for the failure of one part? In the USA it is difficult to find parts for imported products so the common solution is to throw that, otherwise useful, product in the trash and buy a new one. A simple way to get replacement parts for DIY people or local general repair technicians able to decipher a product manual would most likely have a major impact on landfills, resource management/conservation, and the economy in an environmentally positive way even with the lengthened lifespan of a product. How about a way to use a 3-D printer to make some of these common failure parts either at home or in a local general service center?
  • Apr 7 2013: Theoretically the easier it gets for us to produce goods, the easier it should be to access them, and so the less people should need to work for them. Whether the economic system we have will allow for that remains to be seen.

    I would think that the logical eventuality is that manufacturing becomes such a simple automated process that anyone can do it in their own homes and won't have to work so much because they can provide most of what they need for themselves.

    I foresee a return to cottage industry and artisanship. When manufacturing is automated the focus can return to design, and hand-crafted goods will remain valued for their uniqueness and humanity.
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      Apr 9 2013: That would be an amazing thing to happen! But I think we can't forget about the big players here (big companies) who will definitely claim rights,... then again the idea of cottage industry and artisanship sounds nice!
  • Apr 5 2013: What about 3d printing? In the near future we will be able to create a lot of products from our homes, which could render a lot of industries useless. The amazing thing is that it could save a lot of energy, because assembling items at home would save fuel, energy and work.

    Our civilization right now is still focused on factories. The industrial revolution changed life like few other movements did. Now, the technology that enabled produts to be created fast and cheap at factories has become so miniturized that a lot of things will be able to be created at our own homes. That is another kind of revolution. Industry quality items made by regular people at your desire.

    Just like a lot of artisans, carpenters, maisons and tailors lost their jobs due to the industrial revolution, Im pretty sure many people will lose their jobs in the near future due to the technolgies we have been talking about. Nonetheless, there will be new jobs. Designers, technicians, software experts, maintenance workers will be much more required and will be the new workforce.
    • Apr 8 2013: The last paragraph, does not take into account and again I'll use the Philippines as an example, that 50% of all money goes to repay debt. Thats why they manufacture. Without that, it's not just job-losses it's starvation.

      And with no money, and ever spiraling debt, that can't be afforded to repay, the only thing, which is happening how is the forest's ( the size of massachusetts) are being logged by the government to pay US Banks. How do you think that loss of forest will affect global warming?

      And with no money, how will they pay for re-training? You cant afford it yourself if your working at a nike factory for a few dollars each day, so what happens? Starvation on a country wide scale?

      You could say the same for India, Pakistan, China... and many other countries.

      it's not about the cool-ness of the technology, too often people -only- see that, I do wish people would see it not just from their own perspective, but from a global standpoint, after all we only have one earth, and technology should be about how it can uplift us ALL.
      • Apr 9 2013: That is a radical idea and probabily reality wouldnt work that way.
        I mean, are people in Philippines working like they are in the 19th century, when factories came around? I doubt it.

        Im pretty sure most people in Philippines have adapted to technology, one way or another. Probabily most have cell phones, TVS, refrigerators and other pieces of technology. And there are people that work to make this technology works. Hell, maybe some of there people are actually producing advanced technology in their factories. Look at China and how they managed to create hundreds or thousands of factories that create technological products.

        So, yes, even new technology eventualy gets distributed around and even not very privileged people eventualy get their hands on it.
        And 3d printers will be very cheap eventualy. There is no way to deny it and it will be as important as regular paper printers. We dont recognize how important they are, but paper printers revolutionized society quite a bit.
  • Apr 11 2013: View Race Against the Machines-TEDX Talk

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    Apr 9 2013: Yes the climate change, you must mean the coming ice age?

    I'm guessing you are referring to nano engineering? Yup it is going to change everything. It will make the computer revolution a footnote.

    What is everyone going to do? Got me I would guess design and programming but it will work out.

    I watched the video, that is some cool shit, and is no doubt the future
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    Apr 9 2013: Michael, Lets go to step one. The factory instructions that come with your product. Since you have stated you work with Whirlpool you must be aware of the owners manuals .... Please explain why it is necessary to have either a service call center where you can discuss your problem with a tech .... and second why is it necessary to have factory authorized repairmen. If your owners and repair manuals were good you would need neither. No offense to your company all others are in the same boat .... tech writing is usuall some engineer who knows the process and fails to properly assess the target population. The manual tells the housewife to achieve technical feats and it is all Greek to her ... no offense to women men are in the same boat.

    Do I really want to build my own TV ... no .. do I really want to order parts I do not need because I cannot properly analyze / troubleshoot the problem .. no.

    Having stopped at step one ... why go on. I do not see this as a good thing for the average person.

    I wish you well. Bob.

    This could only work if the company saw any worth to produce a worthwhile manual for the average person to be able to read and follow.

    If you doubt this wait until Christmas and buy a "needs assembly" present ... then you will understand.

    Sales would go up because nothing would be repaired ... and frankly I would attemot it but if I found your repair manual of no value I would never buy your product again.
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      Apr 9 2013: I don't think directly the consumer should start constructing his TV, table,.. this could be done by a company in between that then distribute these things. To me the argument about our world of today where there are "complex things built in complex ways" is clear enough and makes you want to think about how things are being done today, let's say the time that is lost, all the waste and pollution that it brings with...
      I agree with you on the manuals but then again, with self-assembly products they will be less needed, not to say not needed anymore. Definitely if there would exist companies that take care of these problems.
  • Apr 8 2013: If these things can be transmuted into something practical, which I have yet to see, I do wonder what impact this will have on the economy, globally.

    For some earning those few dollars a day by manufacturing (nike etc), is the only thing that keeps their families from starvation.

    Or will we, as we have done in the past, ignore these marginalized peoples, and let them die, just as long as it's not show on the tv.
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      Apr 9 2013: I strongly believe that if we pay more attention to those people (economically and morally) and start giving them a proper education (voluntarily) and give them space to develop themselves, we could definitely get those people starting on more efficient working and get people create things that we have never seen before.
      Too less attention is given to those countries, this should change drastically!
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    Apr 7 2013: Under our current economic system,for most people, losing a job is not seen as an opportunity to focus on "other area's of their lives"; It is seen as a food,clothing and shelter crisis
    • Apr 8 2013: It could be that decentralised manufacturing technologies, as well as decentralisation of the knowledge required to operate and innovate those technologies, will bring the production of food, clothing, and shelter within the opportunities that become available to the unemployed.
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      Apr 9 2013: Shawki Shawki, that is a powerful statement you make there!
      We should start watching the media with a different attitude and stop judging, and instead ask ourselves what we can create and what can be done for those people. Instead of going with the media flow of negativity!
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    Apr 6 2013: .
    The impact will be:

    (1) On economy ----
    . . .Making economic crises due to extreme abundance of materials
    . . .at extremely low prices.
    (2) On happiness ----
    . . .Causing happiness crises due to extreme difficulties to get “a-step-better”
    . . .for keeping our DNA alive.

    (For details, see the 1st article, point 2(2), at
  • Apr 5 2013: This may not be related to the economy, but I'm seeing convenience and efficiency alongside more dependency and ignorance. If only there is a way to limit the application/use of this technology... Overuse or even misuse is often inevitable (like in the case of Internet). This technology will surely create an even further gap between producer and consumer, and even greater dependency on technological devices in the future generation. They will no longer naturally learn a lot of how-to-s from their environment and have to deliberately look for sources if they are interested.

    Also, if there are malfunctions on the finished product or some missing parts, we can't just find any similar parts and fix them ourselves. I can't help but think of how quite a number of mac-book users have to get the whole computer to the store or even the manufacturer just to have certain parts fixed when we can take apart, fix ,and re-assemble other computers of other operating systems on our own. No more DIY products?

    I'm not sure about what would happen in the long run and I may be biased, but I myself am quite hopeful of the development of the project. Speedier and safer fixing of many things is likely...