Tag Archives: Industrial economy

Public Education Vs. Public Schooling

BOOK REVIEW

Deschooling Society, Author: Ivan Illich.

By Kerry McDonald – Until we separate public education from public schooling–to truly “de-school” our perspective on learning–we will be mired in a debate about reforming one, singular method of education (that is, mass schooling), while ignoring other methods of education that could be better.

The industrial model upon which compulsory public schooling was founded in 1852 is no longer relevant in a new economy that increasingly values creativity over conformity, knowledge workers over factory laborers. Despite the fact that sociologists and economists believe we have left the Industrial Age for the Imagination Age—an era defined by creativity and innovation and technological application—American education is stuck with an outdated system of mass schooling. Instead of adapting to the changing needs of a creative culture, American schooling has sought to become even more restrictive and entrenched. We need a new model of learning, separate from our modern experiment with mass schooling, that taps into the innate, self-educative capacity of humans.

A perfect example of educational webs, as opposed to funnels like school, is the public library. Libraries are ideal examples of existing, taxpayer-funded, community-based, non-coercive learning hubs. They are openly accessible to all members of a community and, unlike public schools, do not segregate by age or ability. They offer classes, lectures, cultural events, ESL lessons, computer courses, mentoring opportunities and a whole host of other public programming. They are brimming with gifted facilitators who love “learning, sharing, and caring” and who are eager to help guide community learning. more> https://goo.gl/heaclm

Updates from GE

Beyond Bitcoin: Digital Currency Among Many Industrial Applications For Blockchain
By Mark Egan & Dorothy Pomerantz – Ben Beckmann works as the lead scientist in the complex systems engineering lab at GE Global Research in Niskayuna, New York. In 2012, he made a seemingly inconsequential wager: He bet one of his colleagues that the electronic currency bitcoin would fail.

Bitcoins started trading for pennies after the currency launched in 2009. Today, you can buy one bitcoin for $2,200. Beckmann lost the bet and took his colleague for a nice meal. “If we had taken the $100 we spent on dinner and invested it in bitcoins at the start, we would be millionaires,” Beckmann laughs.

Losing the bet pushed Beckman to take a closer look at the code behind bitcoin. He and others at GE discovered that the real magic that made it work was a public digital ledger called blockchain that keeps a chronological record of all bitcoin transactions. But the currency is just one blockchain application. The technology could be used for tracking trade, contracts, and even renewable energy.

Maja Vujinovic, technical product manager at GE Digital, is leading a push to explore and develop blockchain across the company. She’s looking at everything from purchase orders and budget reconciliation and parts tracking. “The bank receives a fee for every transaction,” Vujinovic  says. “If we can remove the bank and establish a trust mechanism instead, that will save us a lot of money.” more> https://goo.gl/5XIWo7

Skills and Global Value Chains

OECD – Since 1990s, the world has entered a new phase of globalization. Information and communication technology, trade liberalization and lower transport costs have enabled firms and countries to fragment the production process into global value chains (GVCs): many products are now designed in one country and assembled in another country from parts often manufactured in several countries. To seize the benefits of GVCs, countries have to implement well-designed policies that foster the skills their populations need to thrive in this new era.

GVCs give workers the opportunity to apply their skills all around the world without moving countries: an idea can be turned into a product more easily and those who are involved in production can benefit from this idea.

GVCs give firms the possibility of entering production processes they might be unable to develop alone. At the same time, the demand for some skills drops as activities are offshored, exposing workers to wage reductions or job losses in the short term. In the long term, however, offshoring enables firms to reorganize and achieve productivity gains that can lead to job creation.

The rise of GVCs has prompted a backlash in public opinion in some countries. This negative reaction has sometimes focused on the leading role of multinationals and foreign direct investment. Multinationals can boost production and job creation in the host country by engaging local companies as suppliers, but they can also quickly relocate parts of the production process from country to country. This increases uncertainty about the demand for jobs and skills in each country, while making uncoordinated policy response in each country less effective. Multinationals are often seen as responsible for offshoring jobs while contributing to the increase in top incomes.

In all countries, more educated workers enjoy high job quality than low-educated ones. But the gap in job strain between low-educated and high-educated workers is larger in countries that participate more in GVCs (Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia). Investing in skills along with increasing participating in GVCs is particularly important in developing economies that tend to be at the lower end of value chains, where working conditions are more often poor.

Strong cognitive skills are not enough on their own to achieve good performance in GVcs and to specialize in technologically advanced industries. Industries involve the performance of several types of tasks, but all require social and emotional skills as well as cognitive skills. To succeed in an internationally competitive environment, countries and industries needs in addition to those related to their domain specializations. more> https://goo.gl/a8hPgv

Can Asia reach high-income?

By Donghyun Park, Abdul Abiad, Gemma Estrada, Xuehui Han, and Shu Tian – In a single generation, Asia has transformed itself from a low-income continent to a middle-income one.

In 1991 more than 90 percent of the region’s population still lived in low-income countries. By 2015, more than 95 percent lived in middle-income countries.

Is the continent now on its way to reaching high income in the next generation?

The experiences of the newly industrialized economies might give some cause for optimism about the region’s prospects. After all, the Republic of Korea made the transition from middle to high income in only 23 years. Yet global experience is far less reassuring. Historically it has taken the typical middle-income country more than half a century to graduate to high-income status, leading some economists to label this the “middle-income trap.”

As countries develop their economies, traditional sources of productivity growth—such as shifting labor from agriculture to manufacturing or the imitation of foreign technologies—decline in importance. Innovation assumes a more central role, especially for upper middle-income countries. Middle-income economies that successfully graduated to high income had 2.5 times more research and development stock per worker as those that did not, for example. more> https://goo.gl/CfPW4u

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Updates from GE

Leaner Than Lean: How Digitalization Transforms Manufacturing
By Randy Stearns – If you want to see the future of manufacturing, follow the Tama River about 45 kilometers upstream from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to the GE Healthcare facility in Hino, Japan. Inside this outwardly conventional, low-rise suburban business complex is emerging the blueprint for the future of manufacturing, tweak by painstaking tweak.

The Hino factory makes both parts for large medical scanners and small, precision equipment. Compared with similar facilities, its production lines are exceptionally efficient — fast, with less waste, errors and unplanned downtime — thanks in part to the successful integration of advanced digital information technology with operational systems. GE calls this convergence of hardware and software on the shop floor the brilliant factory.

The Hino plant is where the Industrial Internet meets Kaizen, the Japanese concept of continuous improvement pioneered by Toyota after World War II that undergirds Lean methods for eliminating waste in manufacturing. more> https://goo.gl/euCTYE

Updates from GE

Chips Ahoy: The Port Of LA Is Getting A Digital Makeover
By Kristin Kloberdanz – The day after Christmas in 2015, workers at the Port of Los Angeles set a personal record. They unloaded a massive cargo ship called the Benjamin Franklin, the largest ever to land in North America, in just three and a half days.

Such brisk efficiency takes lots of planning. The right equipment has to be in place to move the merchandise from the ship and onto trucks and trains for distribution. In this case, it was a months-long logistical exercise — carried out mostly by telephone and spreadsheets.

Port operators knew they could do better. So they partnered with GE to create a pilot program making cargo shipment data visible with GE software. The pilot, which went live this week, will help the port’s complex system of shippers, terminal operators, trucks, rail cars and other components run more efficiently.

Seth Bodnar, GE Transportation’s chief digital officer, says the port resembles a giant restaurant. “In the past, we didn’t know who to serve until the customer showed up — you didn’t know what was coming off the ship until a couple of days before the ship arrived,” he says.

Such short notice can lead to bottlenecks. The new GE software system makes data available to the ports two weeks before the ship arrives, giving everyone plenty of time to synch their assets. The system will also tell workers the cargo’s final destination so that trucks and machines can be ready to move the goods in the most efficient way possible. The payoff can be huge. Bodnar says that a 1 percent improvement in efficiency at just one port can net $60 million in savings. more> https://goo.gl/EcDUvb

Updates from GE

The Power Of Data: How Software Is Helping Keep Iceland’s Lights On
By Julie Khoo – There are many reasons to visit Iceland. This former Viking stronghold is now the most peaceful country and home to the happiest and most literate people in the world — one in 10 Icelanders on average reportedly has published a book.

A nation of glaciers, volcanoes and waterfalls, Iceland is also, at least metaphorically, one of the greenest places, generating all of its electricity from renewable sources such as hydropower and geothermal energy.

The grid receives electricity from generators that move at a constant frequency, just like the merry-go-round. When a power-hungry load suddenly disconnects from a high-inertia grid with lots of generators, the grid frequency will barely change.

But when a generator or load goes offline in a low-inertia grid like the one in Iceland, Landsnet has to act quickly to return the frequency to its normal level.

This can be a real headache. If the frequency drops or climbs too quickly, it can knock down parts of the grid and cause power failures. It can even cause a geothermal power station to automatically disconnect from the grid to protect the equipment from large stresses. Dramatic changes in frequency can also create “electrical islands” as different areas on the grid react to the changes. This can lead to blackouts. more> https://goo.gl/LyyN60

X-rays from Copper Source Set New Gold Standard for Measuring Industrial Materials

By Alison Gillespie – Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have produced and precisely measured a spectrum of X-rays using a new, state-of-the-art machine. The instrument they used to measure the X-rays took 20 years to develop, and will help scientists working at the agency make some of the world’s most accurate measurements of materials for use in everything from bridges to pharmaceuticals.

The process of building the instrument for making the new measurements was painstaking. “This new specialized precision instrument required both a tremendous amount of mechanical innovation and theoretical modeling,” said James Cline, project leader of the NIST team that built the machine.

“That we were able to dedicate so many years and such high-level scientific expertise to this project is reflective of NIST’s role in the world of science.” more> https://goo.gl/e0zrET

AI will rob companies of the best training tool they have: grunt work

By Sarah Kessler – Deloitte has what it calls an “apprenticeship model.”

The international auditing and professional services firm hires thousands of entry level employees with the expectation that most of them will work hard, then leave after they’ve learned marketable skills.

The organization—like many companies—looks like a pyramid, with many more employees at the bottom level than at the middle or top level.

That structure makes sense when there’s a lot of grunt work to do.

Today, Deloitte has technology capable of scanning and reviewing thousands of contracts–an entire year of human work–in an hour.

As Deloitte relies more on AI, it won’t necessarily have the same need for entry-level employees to do basic work such as combing through contracts.

Here’s the problem, Cathy Engelbert says: “Where do [those middle-level employees] get that experience and judgment? That’s probably the number one thing I worry about as we shift our model.” more> https://goo.gl/DDzQjn

GE’s Immelt bets big on digital factories, shareholders are wary

By Alwyn Scott – The $4 billion GE has spent on developing digital products – ranging from tiny sensors in jet engines to augmented reality and software that can crunch large volumes of data – is on the scale of investments Google and Facebook Inc (FB.N) made to build their businesses, Bill Ruh, CEO of GE’s digital division, told Reuters.

Now that GE has shed non-essential operations, including most of its large financial unit, its fortunes will rise or fall depending on whether that investment delivers.

GE’s technology – and similar systems by IBM, Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE) and others – is a hot new battleground in manufacturing.

The companies promise they can spot problems before machines break down, yield cost savings of 30 percent or more, and raise labor productivity that has slowed sharply in recent years.

The company has spent $5 billion setting up new U.S. factories in the last five years. As it now adds digital technology to its plants, it needs fewer, and higher skilled, workers than in the past.

“We’re going to have a smarter worker,” Jeff Immelt said in an interview. “We’re not going to have as many workers.” more> https://goo.gl/MDXuzw