There Is No Great Stagnation – Ford’s Sweating Robotic Arse

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This might take some convincing but we’ve all been made just that fraction richer as Ford has invented a robot with a sweaty fundament. This is not, as you might think, in order to be able to test extra strong latex, nor the cut of underwear – although presumably useful in both contexts, – but to test car seats. The way this makes us richer is that we can now do those old things we used to do using less human labour, meaning we can now redeploy that worker time into producing something else for us all to enjoy. We’re now richer by that production of that extra time.

We could also work this the other way, our car seats will now be better tested, as a result better designed, and we’ll be richer by what value we apply to better car seats:

The next time someone tells you that the tech industry is out of ideas or that the future we were all promised never arrived or that real innovation died out years ago, you grab that stinker by their collar, and you yell in their face: “Ford added sweat glands to its robot butt.”

Car seats experience more than the occasional contact with the human butt. They wear and tear as a result of it. So, in order to test car seats some simulacrum of a human arse must be made in order to see what the pattern of wear and tear is – with a view to preventing it, or at least minimising the effects.

One way to do this is to have a line worker on the usual $35 an hour plus benefits spending his time getting in and out of a car. Or perhaps we could ship car seat designs to be tested to some place where labour is $1 an hour. A problem with that second solution perhaps being that butts are going to be rather narrower than the American standard in a place that poor.

Or, obviously enough, we can build a machine to do it. Which is what Ford has done for some time now. New car seat design, maybe a new fabric covering, use a robot arm with a cushion to jab at it a couple of times a minute for a few weeks.

Yet human beings sweat as we’ve all found out and human backsides do so too – as again we’ll all found out at times. So, add the sweat glands to the cushions and we’re testing the car seat better. We’re richer as a result.

Yes, we’ve just mechanised sweaty arses and just as every time we mechanise something we’re richer as a result. Wouldn’t Henry be proud?