THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: GERMANY’S NEW INDUSTRIAL ...

This is such a significant story I have to share it, and it came courtesy of Mr. D.W. who brought it to my attention. It's in the category of one of those stories that doesn't seem too exciting, or significant, until you really think about what is being said:

Germany's Industry 4.0 Strategy

There's a number of stunning statements here:

"The Internet of Things, Big Data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence are changing how we live. Germany has now adopted a development strategy embracing those trends that it hopes will lead a revolution in how things are made."
Exactly what that strategy is, is this:

But what most caught visitors' eyes was a metal octopus that along with its exhibit embodied Germany's development plans for the next 20 years.

Much like rows of assembly lines, a cluster of factories or a string of supply chains, these robotic octopi can be linked together and with a central nerve center to be able to sense each other, communicate and make decisions together and work in unison.

Following an emphasis on hidden champions, this is Germany's new development approach. It has mobilized the private and public sectors and academia and fully invested the country's economic might in this new vision – to redefine the manufacturing sector and take charge of its future direction by becoming "the factory of the world's factories."

Germany's "octopus" plan has a formal name – Industry 4.0. Its objective is smart and fully networked manufacturing.

"We think our strength in Germany is the industry, so we think let's start the utilization of the Internet of things in the area where we are strong. And this area is industry," says Bernhard Diegner, head of the research department in the Industry 4.0 section of German electrical industry association ZVEI, one of three unions forming Germany's Industry 4.0 platform.

As the article later notes, Germany's approach here is going to be "the fourth industrial revolution." The essence of the strategy is simple:

The plan envisioned integrating the traditional machinery sector, the electrical and electronics sector and the information communications technology sector and creating an industry, academia and government collaboration platform, with big corporations such as Siemens, SAP and Bosch helping smaller companies along.
In other words, what Germany is pursuing is a "designer manufacturing" industrial policy whereby, by linking current and emerging technologies(think additive manufacturing or "3D printing" here), designier factories can be manufactured for those seeking to design and manufacture certain things. In this, Germany is pursuing an age-old policy, for as readers of my new book The Third Way: The Nazi International, European Union, and Corporate Fascism will recall, this was Hjalmar Schacht's interwar plan for the expansion of German industry and exports, for his plan was simply to be the factory building the factories for other nations. As the article also intimates, this means also that Germany will be heavily invested in training a high skilled manufacturing work force to be able to accomplish this, and this too, forms part of the reason that one is looking at "the fourth industrial revolution".  The basics of the idea are suggested by BASF's experimental factory in Kaiserslautern:

In the small southern German town of Kaiserslautern is hidden chemical giant BASF's innovation secret. Here one finds a plain-looking building that is the cradle of German smart manufacturing – the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and its first floor smart factory.

The smart factory is equipped with only one production line stocked with red, blue and yellow liquid soap materials, but it can produce customized bottles of soap concentrate made of different formulas at the same time.

As plastic bottles come down a conveyor belt, they are armed with a sticker featuring a barely visible embedded chip that contains detailed order information. One after another, the bottles are filled, sealed, and labeled automatically.

The sticker resembles the brain of the octopi, telling the production line what colors of liquid soaps to mix in what proportions in each bottle before it ultimately prints out a packaging label. All that's left for the factory's technicians to do is control the production process from in front of a computer.

Detlef Zuhlke, scientific director of the DFKI's Innovative Factory Systems division, says the factory can take customized orders and quickly turn them into production, a degree of flexibility he believes will be necessary in the future world of manufacturing.

In other words: one assembly line, but due to the "smart" nature of the line, many different products can be produced from it, on an item by item basis. Imagine, then, an assembly line producing first an airplane, then a special automobile to the purchaser's individual requirements, and so on. Imagine, similarly, the utility of such an approach for space, and indeed, its necessity for space, and for permanent human presence in space and on local celestial bodies, as spare parts and even whole machines required for that presence can be ordered to requirements and manufactured on the spot.  Germany, in other words, means not only to lead this "fourth industrial revolution", but to drive it.

And then imagine this integrative and robotical "smart assembly line" being used for military applications... but that part of the story will have to wait until tomorrow.
See you on the flip side...

12 thoughts on “ THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: GERMANY’S NEW INDUSTRIAL ...”

  1. Surely, Germany is on the verge of dumping U.S. in its hegemonic (you-know-what). Because if a third world war happens with Russia, China and India, all of Western Europe will be a smoking ruin with millions incinerated. France will follow close behind. China, Russia and India have seen the light, and they will not be on America’s side. I see Germany heading into the future, and the U.S. still stuck in his warmongering past. Something big is brewing in late August into September and the fall–all signs point to it–astronomical, astrological, financial, geophysical, prophetic, the idiotic campaigns for President, missing gold, shows on 60 Minutes about security in space, saber rattling and neonazi neocons. The petrodollar needs to go to keep the planet moving forward.

  2. On “…these robotic octopi can be linked together and with a central nerve center to be able to sense each other, communicate and make decisions together and work in unison.” :

    “Star Trek: First Contact” (1996) :

    Borg Queen: I am the beginning. The end. The one who is many. I am the Borg.

    “Star Trek: Voyager: Dark Frontier: Part 2” (1999) :

    Borg Queen: Assimilation is complete.
    Seven of Nine: 300,000 individuals have been transformed into drones. Should they be congratulated as well?
    Borg Queen: They should be. They’ve left behind their trivial, selfish lives, and they’ve been reborn with a greater purpose. We’ve delivered them from chaos into order.
    Seven of Nine: Comforting words. Use them next time instead of “Resistance is futile”. You may elicit a few volunteers.

    “Star Trek: Voyager: Unimatrix Zero: Part 1” (2000) :

    Borg Queen: Captain.
    Captain Kathryn Janeway: It’s been a long time. How are things in the Collective?
    Borg Queen: Perfect, for the most part. Voyager?
    Captain Kathryn Janeway: Never better.

    “Star Trek: Voyager: Unimatrix Zero: Part 2” (2000) :

    Borg Queen: You like having friends, don’t you? Assimilation turns us all into friends. In fact, it brings us so close together, we can hear each other’s thoughts.
    Alien Boy: Is that fun?
    Borg Queen: Yes. It’s fun.

    Borg Queen: Is this your compromise?
    Captain Kathryn Janeway: I don’t compromise with Borg.

  3. I know why Joseph has put this blog up. Got the new book yesterday and up to page 46. Germany is on the move, that’s all I’ll say. So fellow readers, get the new book ASAP.

  4. While I’ve been reading, one name came to my mind – Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie.

  5. This sounds like the ultimate pipedream. Who’s going to buy all these products? Certainly not the mass of workers who lost their jobs on the assembly line…

  6. It appears to be the next step the Just in Time meme, it’s now Just in Time Mfg. Where it won’t be manufactured until a hard order has been placed and money rx’d. This will greatly reduce inventory management headaches.

  7. Unless they are thinking of the rest of us as customers. This will in the end blow up in our elites faces. Who will buy what they make and keep the economy going. The only thing good about this is it might cut down on all the stupid wars or excuses for them.

    1. marcos toledo, both you and lazer_eye bring up a crucial point. How will people be able to buy all these goods if most are displaced by AI automation?

      The only answer I can see is the eventual “guaranteed minimum income” for every citizen. It has been, and is now, being discussed in the progressive community and among a few libertarians(for purely economic reasons).

      Where would the money come from? There are a number of ideas, but just the elimination of all welfare, social programs, etc. from Feds, State and local, would free up a considerable amount.

      O course, it’s a ways off for it to hit the mainstream. But, how else to deal with all the upcoming, souped-up automation that’s on the horizon?

      1. MxFusion, I agree with your (and marcos toledo & lazer_eye) broad conclusions. Some form of ‘demand’ must be there for the ‘supply’. It can be instituted peacefully, or it can come in “French revolution” mode. But, come it must, as automation displaces workers.

        For me, the money should come from requiring corporations to actually pay taxes, eliminating overseas tax havens, reverting tax levels for the rich to 1960s levels, reinstating estate taxes, etc. Don’t take it from the 99%; take it from the 1% (or 5%; whatever)…

  8. Isn’t this the “Terminator” series of movies in real life? All you need to add is the AI. That AI may well turn out to be an updated version of the JADE 2 AI currently being tested in the southwest of Amerika…

Comments are closed.