Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Engineers of FAIR

IKEA as a Case Study on Globalization

Five Thirty Eight has an interesting post on the economics of IKEA's furniture.  From the article:
"The Poäng’s midcentury-modern forebear was the Finnish designer Alvar Aalto’s 1939 creation called simply armchair 406, which had its own bent-birch frame, swooping arms and thin tan upholstery. The Poäng’s design was first sold decades later, in 1978, after a collaboration between Lars Engman and Noboru Nakamura. Nakamura, in a company brochure celebrating his chair’s 40th anniversary, said that even though trends and fashion influence what he designs, “all products should have a timeless value.”
But it’s less the fashion trends than the resulting furniture economics that make this particular history interesting. Versions of the Aalto sell online for over $4,000. The Poäng debuted at a fraction of the price of the Aalto, and now, after a steep price decline, the Poäng sells at a fraction of its original price. Furniture has generally gotten cheaper relative to other goods over the years — likely due to effects of globalization — but this chair’s trend stands out. In the early 1990s, the chair couldn’t be had for less than $300, adjusted for inflation. Today, it’s $79. (The average piece of $300 dollar furniture in 1990 would cost about $151 today, per the consumer price index for furniture and bedding.)"

Here's Why Self-Driving Cars May Never Really Be Self-Driving

Here's Why Self-Driving Cars May Never Really Be Self-Driving: Researchers are exploring unpredictable issues with autonomous car technology that might be solved with embedded software to avoid accidents.

Term of the Week - Penny Plan

From City Lab:

"Last week, the Senate confirmed Mick Mulvaney, a House representative from South Carolina, to serve as the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney is a notable supporter of Trump’s so-called “penny plan,” a campaign pledge to slash non-defense discretionary spending by 1 percent of prior year levels for every year over a decade. By 2026, the penny plan would result in domestic spending at 37 percent below the level in 2010. “Cuts of these magnitudes would have devastating effects on tens of millions of less-fortunate families and on an array of basic services that middle-income Americans, as well, rely on,” writes CBBP’s Robert Greenstein."

Collaborative Robots

The Dynamic Group is a good example of a firm that represents the future - - robots and humans working in collaborative environments.  The future is coming - - firms and project teams that think less about robots and automation as taking work away from humans and more about the work they can do together.

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