11 Comments

Great essay! I appreciated the urbanist angle, and the horse "externalities" were particularly vivid.

As to the assembly line first being used in slaughterhouses...wouldn't that make it a disassembly line?

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author

Haha...that's a great point. I should edit that...

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I went to the Science Museum with my grandmother when I was about 7 and she was totally bored by the electricity and machines — until we got to the "How we used to live" section and she just came to life.

"We had that mangle!" she shouted with glee!

My grandmother had no electricity or gas. She had coal delivered to her house for the fire. She still had coal delivered when I was a child. It's amazing how much everything has changed. Thank you for such a wonderful article.

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Great story. Really shows how most of us are attracted to the familier and relatable.

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Jun 6Liked by J.K. Lund

Your grandmother's response shows that humans seem to have both a fear of the unknown future and changes to their world experiences in general; but also a desire for new and interesting and entertaining differences supplied by new things and ideas. For us, it may well be AI and/or its advances and off shoots that fits this.

Getting the balance right between resisting change and seeking change seems to be a struggle for many of us.

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author

I find myself struggling as I get older.

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Jun 23Liked by J.K. Lund

Great article! I’ve got an article coming out next week that refers a bit to the second Industrial Revolution and AI as the “steam engine of the mind”. We all must truly be feeling it!

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author

I look forward to it.

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Jun 6Liked by J.K. Lund

Very nice essay. One question/ nit: ... ICE engines "reaching a thermal efficiency of up to 50 percent." Perhaps I need a clarification of just what thermal efficiency in this context means to you, as I understand modern engines are still in the range of 35% or so, at best.

But the transition from the prior use of wood and coal as energy sources, resulting in largish steam powered machines to provide useful power, to the smaller ICE and electric motors is probably the prime driver, as you mention, to supplying advances scaled to the average home user, etc. I read somewhere that as the Otto cycle engine was advancing, one major improvement was simply tightening the tolerances on machining the cylinders, pistons, and rings, etc., without any real change in the engine's overall configuration. This of course improved compression ratios and efficiency.

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There are diesel engines that reach 50 percent measured as the energy conversion efficiency. I think these are low speed engines. Most ICEs are in the 30 percent range, that is correct.

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Great article!

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