Okay, I'm sure that 3D printing will play a bigger role 17 years from now than it does today. And the trend away from stable employment towards short-term gigs will probably continue.
But this game of taking current trends, projecting them to absurd extremes, and calling it futurism, should be taken for what it is: a game.
Where's my flying car? Why can't I book an inexpensive vacation to the moon? How come I don't have a mini-nuclear power plant in my basement? Futurists predicted all of these things.
By the way, is the statistic about typical Americans holding 11 jobs by age 30 correct? I entered the labor force when I was 15, and was on my 8th job when I turned 30. (That was in 2009, so we're not talking about the "good old days," either). It always seemed like that was more jobs than most people.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans born between 1957 and 1964 held an average of 11.3 jobs between the ages of 18 and 46, with about half of those jobs being held between the ages of 18 and 24. That would mean about 7 jobs by age 30, which fits with my experience.
At any rate, I don't think I'll hold my breath for a 3D-printed apple or a 3D-printed can of soup. I'll give Mr. Frey extra points for creativity, though.
I see your point though, with people only at jobs for 2.4 years before moving on, how is there any long term progress. But I would like to point out that the cell/smartphone exploded in development surpassing advancement of most everything else. The 3D printer is truly stirring everyone's mind in a similar way. It may just be the next big thing.
Dave, I see your point. I marvel at the innovation of 3D printing and the possibilities, but I balk at the idea of a 3D printed house. Will that be structurally sound? Really? Perhaps somewhere down the line in the far-off future, yes, but for now I'm much happier with good old cement or wood surrounding me. Maybe I'm just a brick and mortar kind of gal.
Wow, Cabe, that 3D burrito printer is something else. But I think I prefer my burritos handmade, preferably in one of the taquerias I used to frequent when I lived in San Francisco. It will be awhile before I trust a robot to make me something delicious! (I do trust my blender to make me a delicious margarita, though, as long as I can put in the ingredients first. :))
Dave, you are correct, the futurist is just projecting trends. They really aren't that important. No one is going to do something based on what a futurist says. Mostly they publish books and give talks. That's alright. People like to read and listen. It's just harmless fun. I guarntee you that professional investors do not listen to them.
The things that happen (faster computers, cell phones, etc.) depend on people (engineers and scientists) developing new technologies and ways to apply and produce those technologies. Take the cell phone. It really needed a good low power CPU to power it. That is the ARM processor. That processor architecture was developed in the UK for an early personal computer called the Acorn (ARM originally stood for Acorn Risk Machine) in the early 1980s. After a long period of time, it came to the fore in the cell phone. I had an early smart phone which used an Intel processor. It was not bad, but battery life was limited and it was more of a hand held PC than a phone. But I digress,
As for the 3D printing, it will be significant for customized or mass customization products. In marketing they talk about three classes of product. Mass market (high volume, lower value) prodcuts, custom products (individual, very expensive) and mass customized. This last is kind of a goal. The main prodcuts we have in this category now are automobiles. Auto manufacurers have the ability to vary the options and features at a customer's request. Interestingly in the US we don't often take advantage of this. In Europe they do all the time. 3D printing brings this ability to lower value products where some variation might be useful. The big question is, why would I want to. How many things do you buy that you want to customize in design? Like cars in the US, do you really want to wait days, weeks or months for it?
One trend in the article I did agree with was the description of more 'jobs or projects' during one's lifetime. After graduating from college, my father worked at 3 different companies before retiring. As stated in the article, workers in my generation can expect to work for many more companies than this. I expect my kid's generation to work for even a higher number of different companies in their lifetime if this trend continues.
From my perspective, at this point it appears that many companies view people as knowledge resources that can be activated or deactivated as needed. Therefore, as time goes on, we can expect more people to look at themselves as 'contractors' rather than 'employees' (more people will be forced to develop their own incorporated identity and will not only have to perform the work, but also have to now brand and market themselves more as they move from job to job).
@Greg: It's true that there is a trend towards shorter-term employment, but I think it has natural limits, which we are rapidly approaching. Where I work, there are a lot of guys who have worked for the company for 30 or even 40 years. There is a huge value in having such a vast repository of product knowlege. On the other hand, since most of these employees have never worked for any other company, they may lack the perspective that someone who has changed jobs every 2.5 years would have.
It's important to have a balance of experienced long-term employees, along with fresh-faced youngsters with new ideas, and folks who have moved around who can provide an outside perspective.
If all of your employees are temporary contractors, you're going to have to re-invent the wheel many times, because there will be no continuity in your organization. This will be enormously ineffecient.
There is a natural equilibrium, somewhere between guaranteed lifetime employment and craigslist's "gigs" section. Hopefully, we'll find it.
@Dave: Yes, I agree with you. There is a huge value in having the vast product knowledge of an experienced worker. Unfortunately, many of the executive decision makers do not have a complete appreciation of this and do not have this perception. As a result, many experienced workers have been sent out the door (along with their unique product knowledge that they carry).
I do think that a natural limit will occur, but am concerned that the pendulum will swing too far before it settles back to the correct balance.
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.