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Industry Insight

Dr. Joe Recommends: Robots and Unemployment, Edge computing

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: August 17, 2017

Economics is not just data, it’s an understanding of how resources are allocated in economies. That’s one of the reasons why the recently-stoked “fear” of displacement of labor by robots is so interesting. The same kinds of arguments were found in the application of agricultural technology leading to the unemployment of field farm workers. Instead, farms became productive, and labor was deployed to other applications, creating an industrial revolution and a service industry revolution of higher wages and greater prosperity. It never happens in a straight line, but a very readable and brief explanation of the economic law behind it is worth reading.

Bond guru and historian James Grant reflects on his fifty years on Wall Street in a very informative and engaging newsletter entry, courtesy of Consuelo Mack’s Wealthtrack program. Download the PDF via her site. Grant has a way of putting events in grander historical context without being overwhelming. 

If you follow computing tech, we’re all in for the cloud, but what’s next? It’s life on the edge! “Edge computing” is a few years away, but we get glimpses of it today. TechCrunch describes it all.

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.



By Robert Godwin on Sep 18, 2017

We have been looking at robotic solutions for the bindery. After viewing a video of the cutter operator working, one of the engineers I spoke with wondered why robots had not been introduced long ago. Our MIS system automates the instructions for the cutter so really it is a matter of the lifts and turns, which we already automate/animate. The ROI is readily apparent when simply compared to human labor costs (salary+benefits).

So much of what is needed to automate/robotize is contained in the better MIS systems. Few shops take advantage of the efficiencies that are possible. Printers need to work smart, not cheap.


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