07:30 – Regarding US manufacturing, this article (h/t to Derek Lowe) says pretty much what I’ve been saying for a couple of decades. Ultimately, all US factories will be staffed only by one man and his dog, or as close as doesn’t matter. The days when factories employed large numbers of unskilled and semi-skilled laborers are long gone, and the days are coming when even skilled specialists will be thin on the ground.
Efforts to maintain, let alone increase, manufacturing employment are futile and doomed to fail. Ultimately, US factories will become black boxes, with a chute on one end to receive raw materials and a conveyor on the the other end that delivers finished products, all with no human intervention. Some factories are nearly at that point even now. Manufacturing jobs? Good luck with that. There won’t be any.
As I’ve said frequently, human progress ultimately comes down to two things: new knowledge, which is produced by science, and productivity, which is produced by automation. Progress comes down to discovering new and more efficient ways to accomplish goals and then implementing that new knowledge.