Bloomberg Fed reporter Torres on why he visits factories
Federal Reserve reporter Craig Torres of Bloomberg News spoke with the David Beckworth of the Macro Musings podcast to discuss how he visits factories to understand what is going on in the economy and labor.
Here is an excerpt:
Craig Torres: Well, I think my profession, journalism and the Silicon Valley which tends to hype because hype equals money for those people, the more attention they can get, the more money they’ll get, mostly, have overstated how automation is going to affect labor. The big challenge based on what I’ve seen is to figure out how labor works with this automation and sort of reimagine labor and that’s what I saw at Rolls Royce. I visited a lot of plants in my time. Usually, when you go into a manufacturing facility, there are men and women standing in front of something, watching it do something. That machine has become the hands and partially the decision making apparatus for humans and what they would normally do.
At Rolls Royce, it was amazing to see a $35,000 piece of titanium, going through all this cutting and no humans observing it at all. That machine was storing data on what it was doing. It was comparing it to what it had done before. It was measuring heat, all other kinds of metrics. I had to ask, well, what exactly are humans doing in this place? They seem to be walking around and observing and the manager there, Lauren, said that’s pretty much right but I need those people to be facilitators around this process and keep a very close eye out for what he called non-standard events. A machine only knows what it knows.
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