Magazine February 23, 2009, Issue

Factory Man

A worker passes by stocks of aluminium ingot at ” Pechiney ” aluminium factory (Reuters)
Nostalgia is wonderful. It won’t solve our problems

I still remember the first time I walked into a working factory. In the foreground, innumerable machines whirred and clacked away in precise, interlocking dances. A massive vat shaped like a 50-foot-tall Campbell’s soup can loomed in the background. It was encased in a protective sheath of refractory bricks that glowed dusky pink with trapped heat. A crane arm dumped heavy sand continuously into the top at (literally) industrial volumes. Steaming, liquid glass gushed out of the business end at the bottom in a matching stream. I couldn’t see the heating element, but it was in there somewhere, and it

Jim Manzi is CEO of Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), an applied artificial intelligence software company.

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