Machines are fungible

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The Devil’s Advocate

Planned obsolescence, yesterday.


In which the curmudgeonly old sod puts the world to rights.

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Machines are fungible: you can engineer the same machine and get the same results anywhere in the world. The difference in operating cost between the same piece of machinery here and there — essentially the difference in real estate and energy inputs — is an opportunity for arbitrage.[1] Machines are totally fungible. The meatware which operates it is not. To be sure one can generalise about people — it is hard not to — these are heuristics — rules of thumb, to be used provisionally and in the absence of better intelligence — and if we treat them as immutable rules on which we may rely we are asking for trouble.

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  1. Though it might be blown out by transport costs and material qualities, not to mention variability in the meatware.