Our economy has grown and has been transformed by 60 years of Moore’s Law, bringing electronics in any path of life. Moore’s Law has now reached its endpoint (although progress in computation capabilities are still continuing, not a the previous pace and, most importantly, not with the cost decrease we have experienced in the last decades) but a new Law is knocking at the door of our economy and our society, promising to be as disruptive as Moore’s: Lass’ Law.
Sherry Lassiter, known as Lass, is the head of the Fab Foundation. A Fab, a Fab Lab, is a room full of computers managing tools that can manufacture objects, including 3D printers and laser cutters. The first Fab Lab was created back in 2003 at MIT Center’s for Bits and Atoms by Neil Gershenfeld and in 2009 he set up the Fab Foundation. There “Lass” noticed that the number of “tools” for manufacturing doubled every year and by 2016 there were over 1,000 Fab Labs around the world.
If Lass’ Law will remain valid in the next ten years by 2030 there will be over 10 million fab labs, and clearly they will no longer be confined within research labs: there are simply not enough research labs around the world to host them. By that time Fabs will have percolated in small industries, retail stores and some will have found a place in consumers’ homes. Give it 10 more years and 150 millions homes will have a fab lab as part of their furniture.
At the same time the whole value chain of manufacturing will be transformed bringing Industry 4.0 into Industry 5.0. Consumers will no longer buy products but products’ specs and them will manufacture them at home. Of course one can imagine that a new slate of businesses will be there, providing support to customisation. Possibly some of these business will sell “intelligence” to make customisation decision possible at home.
The convergence of Artificial Intelligence with massively distributed / on site manufacturing is going to change the economy, the value chains and the players in manufacturing.
In twenty years time it will be difficult to find a product that is not a melange of atoms and bits. Many products will be aware of their “use” and will be able to reconfigure themselves to the point of creating their own offsprings (thanks to the availability of fab labs). The mixing of AI with fab labs and the self generation of offsprings will result in products evolution with an increasing symbiotic leverage of what is in the product’s ambient.
Welcome to Industry 5.0, an Industry having people as player and product component!