Would putting humans on an assemble line be such a bad thing?

This is not an article about human trafficking or people as “things”. Although that terrible problem would be eliminated if we were to adopt a factory methodology to human lives. I know it sounds nuts but we are all living widgets manufactured in lots of little mom and pop human machine shops around the world. If we actually thought of ourselves this way, the world would be a much better place.


Humans Know How To Manufacture Great Stuff

The fact is, for the last 100+ years we have been getting very good at manufacturing things. Processes continue to improve. Quality control gets better and better. Automation makes it easier to produce better things cheaper. Why are we not applying these same methodologies to creating the human widget?

To be clear, I am also not talking about test tube babies or genetically engineered super humans either. I suggest that we could create a baseline of what all human lives should look like and apply systems and controls to achieving a higher minimum level across the board as a standard of living and happiness for all human widgets.

We are heading this way anyway, just more by accident and less by planned goals. You can look at these graphs by Peter Diamandis to see the trends are clearly moving in the right direction at an accelerating pace.

But what if we decided to actually manufacture the whole thing? I mean plan it out, measure it and fix the weak spots. What would that look like? What is the possible result of it not being planned out?

The fact is, we can make things happen very quickly at this point if we plan and if we stop obstructing the plan with old ways of thinking.

At minimum, every human widget should have food, shelter, medical care, information, education and safety they can depend on, regardless of work. Anything short of this would be considered a war-like mentality where one can only think in terms of winners and losers. We have the capacity to produce a great baseline product for every human widget if we make that the goal. And while some assume this would lead to laziness, it is quit the opposite. Greater stability, security and better education will lead to people working harder on improving communities and their own lives beyond the baseline, with no fear of taking some chances because they have the proper safety net.

Baseline(s) is Plural

While it makes sense to have a fair and predictable baseline of minimum living standards and human rights, it is also critical that more prosperous countries have a different higher line so that people living in those countries do not feel like all the benefits are going towards poorer places. A big current problem with some of the political and drug issues around the globe have to do with people feeling left out or left behind despite the fact that their standard of living is still much better than a majority of the people in the world. They feel entitled to a certain level of lifestyle because of the country they live in and resentful when those expectations are not met.

Instead of blaming people in other counties or politicians in the county they live, they need to understand it is a problem with the system not manufacturing the baseline standard of living they expect, and they can influence and improve that.

So the solution is to have a global minimum baseline and making it a top priority to bring every human widget up to that minimum while also establishing clear baselines in each country and meeting those needs as well to ensure people are not left behind.

Common Sense But Why Have We Not Done It Then?

My first reaction even when I write this is that it is common sense. But then why has no one done it? “They” are the culprit. Why are’t “they” planning better? Why aren’t “they” doing something. “They” is no one. If you think government is doing it, you are very blind to the fact that most elected officials are just preserving their job and focusing on negative things to bash in order to get reelected. Few are working on a comprehensive plan partially because they know something comprehensive cannot get passed.

  • A comprehensive plan will not be liked by many lobbyists and special interests.
  • Officials are more focused on party fighting and playing the blame and credit game than working together on a common vision.
  • Most officials have limited outside system skills.
  • Most officials still hang onto “patriotic” ideas of things being capitalist, socialist, communist, etc. They have not realized that the United States is currently a very poorly run socialist country. (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Welfare, Public Schools, Tax Breaks for Large Corporations, Federal Projects, etc.)

What Is Needed?

To begin with, why do we not all have one vision that everyone can agree to? Is it too hard for people to agree that everyone should have sufficient food and shelter? We can print a house in 24 hours for about $10,000. 72 billion pounds of food is wasted each year as well.

Education is going online more and more. Combine it with lifelong learning, community learning centers with coaches and mentors (instead of schools) and AI that does not “test” students so much as continuously assess progress, comprehension and ability to use the knowledge to make decisions and do things. This should be free to everyone very soon. And micro degrees can be done in shorter periods of time to gain skill sets that are needed fast.

Medical has both the power to be better with a single payer system as well as focus on AI doing basic diagnostics and wellness assessments to reduce the need. Couple in reward system for fitness and nutrition and you completely change the game. We already know all this stuff — just afraid to implement it.
Safety can also be improved soon. Once traffic accidents are cut by 90%+ and traffic violations are a thing of the past because transportation is autonomous, the police force will shrink and AI will use monitoring and predictive models to intervene before problems arise in many cases. Of course, the continuous education and better safety net will reduce criminal behavior as well so it all trends towards more just and safe communities.

We Can Make Freakin Awesome Widgets

This finally brings me back to the main point. If we simply understand the “human widget” as a product and we define what that looks like at a minimum, we can do awesome things. We need to make it a priority to implement business principles from manufacturing to the social systems and supply chain to ensure this level of product. Anything less is wasteful, just like it would be terrible business to have more than 50% of your manufactured machines not work and need to be thrown away.

If I needed 100 widgets a day, and my factory is producing products with a 50% rejection rate, I’d need to produce 200 per day to get my 100. And due to all that excess waste, the 100 I could use would be less economical.

These same basic issues are at work in our lives. If we take the baseline goals seriously, we can begin doing Lean Manufacturing of human happiness and wellness. This stuff is not even hard for us any more. We just keep getting in our own way.