I went back to visit the old plastic factory where I used to work. The quality control woman was showing me around the place. I could see that a good number of the old presses had been removed and quite a few others had been gutted for parts, to the point that I began to wonder how the place could still rightfully call itself a plastic factory. There were just oily pits left on the floor where the presses had been.
But then she led me back to a spot in the back corner of the shop where a crowd of workers had gathered. I pushed through to the front and saw what they were all gaping at. It was a completely new kind of press. Instead of using the crude method of melting the plastic and injecting it into a mold, this new press assembled the part molecule by molecule from a digital blueprint. Through the glass I could see a set of metal styluses at work, weaving the part together out of arcs of blue electricity. After this impressively rapid fabrication, the parts would drop onto a conveyor below the machine.
The woman running this machine sat before a silver bank of levers and dials. She checked the readings on a display and marked endless figures down a clipboard. I thought about how it would be to work a shift at this new machine. I figured it would be easier, most certainly cleaner, but probably as mind-numbing as ever. I pushed back out of the crowd, and left the shop out through the bay door, and walked out into the bright day with a sigh.
Live, Superman! Live and Suffer!
23 hours ago