What I Learned This Week

Silicon Valley has oversold the near-term potential of the technologies of the future and it could deepen pain if the tech backlash turns into a tech downturn.

“Excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated,” Elon Musk wrote in a tweet last Friday. It was a stark admission from a CEO who has declared revolutionary robotic assembly as his decisive advantage over incumbent automakers. As recently as February, Musk claimed Tesla’s “parts conveyor system” in its Model 3 production facility was “probably the most sophisticated in the world.” In an interview with CBS last week, he admitted: “It wasn’t working, so we got rid of that whole thing.” It is an automation pitfall many saw coming. As Bernstein wrote in a report last month: “One tenet of lean production is ‘stabilize the process, and only then autom…

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