Carrying a brakeman and a flagman back when brakes were set by hand, when it was time to slow the train, the engineer would blow the whistle. This signaled to the brakemen, and one would emerge from the caboose and work his way toward the engine, while another would leave the engine and work his way back toward the caboose. At each car, the brakemen would stop and turn its brakewheel with a club. Once the train stopped, the flagman would leave the caboose with a flag, lantern or other visual display and walk back down the track to warn any approaching trains.
And speaking of something I found out today, the company behind the Twinkies, Hostess, was bankrupted by "inept management" and "myopic unions". The solution to save the iconic brand was to lay off 95% of its workforce and use automation. The company now produces almost as much as it did when it had a full complement of workers, with more automation to be added.
The new factory is bright and clean. Tight rows of Twinkies m arch along the $20 million Auto Bake system with the precision of Soviet soldiers in a May Day parade. Yellow robotic arms, which look like they should be welding Teslas rather than boxing Twinkies, stack snacks with hypnotic rhythm. This 500-person plant produces more than 1 million Twinkies a day, 400 million a year. That’s 80% of Hostess’ total total output–output that under the old regime required 14 plants and 9,000 employees. And it’s about to get more efficient: Metropoulos and Jhawar just installed a second Auto–Bake system, this one for Cup Cakes, and the governor is here to cut the ribbon.
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|“That science fiction future where robots can do what people and animals do may be closer than you think.”|
|“Human and animal cells can be 3D printed into high-resolution tissue.”|
|“This conversation about how technology is hijacking people is really catching on.”|
|Making a Movie Inside a Video Game|
|“Nobody is forcing the participants to stay, of course, but if they leave, they won’t be paid.”|
|“Our Internet handlers, not government, are using operant conditioning to modify our behaviour today.”|
|“During this phase of decline, the US was likely to go through a phase of reactionary 'fascism'.”|
|“We’re going to start to see chip implants get the same realm of acceptance as piercings and tattoos.”|
|“Eliminating the time needed to stop and re-charge a conventional electric car’s battery.”|
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|“The shift from fuel and pistons to batteries and electric motors is unlikely to take that long.”|
|“This 160-step biochemical process is very well studied, and surprisingly inefficient.”|