Marc Andreessen : It’s time to build



Marc Andreessen

Every Western institution was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic, despite many prior warnings. This monumental failure of institutional effectiveness will reverberate for the rest of the decade, but it’s not too early to ask why, and what we need to do about it.

Many of us would like to pin the cause on one political party or another, on one government or another. But the harsh reality is that it all failed — no Western country, or state, or city was prepared — and despite hard work and often extraordinary sacrifice by many people within these institutions. So the problem runs deeper than your favorite political opponent or your home nation.

Part of the problem is clearly foresight, a failure of imagination. But the other part of the problem is what we didn’t *do* in advance, and what we’re failing to do now. And that is a failure of action, and specifically our widespread inability to *build*.

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At these factories, robots are making jobs better for workers

729083BA-5659-46B4-A5A1-E335B843A105A worker leads a large industrial robot at the BMW Group Plant Regensburg, Germany.

Any minute now, some speculate, workers around the world will be asked to make way for robots.

Their arrival may be welcome in some cases. Our latest research suggests that when robots—or automated manufacturing technology—take over jobs that are oriented around repetitive tasks, operators are able to move onto more exciting and productive work.

This was the case at 16 “lighthouses of manufacturing,” which were identified as part of a joint McKinsey and World Economic Forum project presented at Davos.

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Cobots are transforming the factory floor — but they’re not replacing humans


Combining human creativity and automation is unlocking new efficiencies.

The increased presence of robots on factory floors has been a boon to manufacturers, who have embraced automation as a way to increase efficiency and cut costs. But there’s been less optimism among human workers, who worry that the rise of robots will render human workers inessential.

In recent years, however, a new school of thought has gained ground: Rather than replace their human counterparts, the manufacturing robots of the future will work alongside them. This future can be seen in the arrival of “cobots,” robots designed to complement human workers. While humans excel at abstract thinking and problem solving, robots shine at bringing speed and accuracy to repetitive, sometimes dangerous tasks. Imagine a factory where robots do the heavy-lifting as humans focus on more meaningful work, where production lines can run unsupervised for weeks with minimal manufacturing defects. In the connected industrial workforce of the future, robots complement workers, improve productivity, and increase operational efficiency.

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Small and midsized companies struggle with their U.S.-based factories


More than 80% of companies bringing work back to the U.S. have $200 million or less in sales.

In recent years, some small and midsize companies have brought manufacturing back to the U.S. but they have found it a bumpy road. Shortages of skilled workers are a common problem, as are difficulties navigating complex regulatory systems that govern modern American manufacturing.



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Vietnam mobs burn factories in anti-China protest

burned factory

Mobs burned and looted scores of foreign-owned factories.

This is an interesting turn. The one thing that the Chinese government cares about is their image, the China brand. They are super sensitive to criticism and push back, but how can you push back against spontaneous riots in other countries? And this outbreak had a double blow. The rioters attacked Taiwanese factories by mistake. This will tip the Taiwanese against unification with China, which China craves. In the past, the Chinese have rioted against Japanese products, and the Chinese government has used it to their political advantage. Now the situation is reversed. Will the riots spread to more cities and Asian countries? Will China back down to save it’s commercial reputation and foreign investments and markets?



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Artificial blood for humans ‘will be manufactured in factories’


Wellcome Trust-funded stem cell research has produced red blood cells fit for transfusion into humans.

The production of blood on an industrial scale could become a reality once a trial is conducted in which artificial blood made from human stem cells is tested in patients for the first time. It is the latest breakthrough in scientists’ efforts to re-engineer the body, which have already resulted in the likes of 3d-printed bones and bionic limbs.


Global manufacturing is changing with a new wave of robots

At the new Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., a robot might do up to four jobs: welding, riveting, bonding and installing a component.

On the coast of China at the Philips Electronics factory hundreds of workers use the old way of working to assemble electric shavers by using their hands and specialized tools.




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China to Shut Down 2,000 Factories to Meet Their Energy-Efficiency Goals


Coal has made China the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Earlier this summer, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China promised to use an “iron hand” to improve his country’s energy efficiency, and a growing number of businesses are now discovering that it feels like a fist.  The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology quietly published a list late Sunday of 2,087 steel mills, cement works and other energy-intensive factories required to close by Sept. 30.


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Wave of Labor Unrest in China Signals End of Cheap Labor

labor unrest

A strike in May at Honda Motor’s transmission factory in Foshan, where hundreds of workers walked off the job and shut four assembly plants.

China has been hit with a recent wave of labor unrest, including strikes and partial shutdowns of factories, underscoring what experts call one of the most dramatic effects of three decades of startling growth: A seemingly endless supply of cheap labor is drying up, and workers are no longer willing to endure sweatshop-like conditions.


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Plant Factories – The Future of Food

Plant Factories - The Future of Food

 Lettuces are grown in a sterile environment at Ozu Corporation’s plant factory in Japan – without being exposed to the air outside

 They look more like the brightly lit shelves of a chemists shop than the rows of a vegetable garden.  But according to their creators, these perfect looking vegetables could be the future of food.

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