[ExI] roboburgers to go

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Fri Sep 27 10:22:24 UTC 2013

On Thu, Sep 26, 2013 at 07:46:41PM -0700, Keith Henson wrote:
> > Question please, what does a father teach a son today, assuming access to the collective  wisdom of years represented by this group?
> >
> > Anders, Kelly, Eugen, Keith, anyone else especially fathers, what do we do now, coach?

I don't see my kid much, unfortunately, so options are naturally
limited. I see no point in pushing kids nevermind turning play
into chores, so the best you can do is to encourage some activities. 
So far I don't see anything off-scale what would warrant focused
> Was thinking about this very topic recently and have no idea.
> Virtually everything I know, particularly mechanical skills, is

Some mechanical skills are hard to automate. Working automation
assumes supply of cheap energy, materials and capital. Some of us
expect a prolonged period where such are scarce, and so need to plan in
for absence of some of what we take for granted today. 

> obsolete. Who needs to rebuild a carburetor? Set the points in a
> distributor? Replace the vertical amplifier in a TV with magnetic
> deflection?

We have a big problem: too much magic. Magic is really neat, but 
it takes huge supply chains, and turns into an unfixable brick
if the fairy dust supply stops. Regression in capabilities might
require use of technology many have completely forgotten ever
existed. We will need more fixer-uppers and more engineers which
are not just glorified trained monkeys. E.g. what I see in
IT these days is utterly appalling. 
> It's almost as bad as chipping rocks to get a sharp edge (which I can also do).

Let's hope you won't need to teach these skills.
> Long list of skills that are utterly out of date.

You can never quite know in advance.
> When I was about 7 I remember watching my father rebuild a fuel pump
> for a late 1949s vintage car.  Those skills were useful, though I
> don't think I ever rebuilt a fuel pump myself. I am hard pressed to
> think of a skill I could pass on to someone of that age.

Kids like to disassemble things, and taking things apart is even
instutionalized in kindergartens. The problem is finding things to
take apart which is rewarding. Magic is rarely that way.
Few pick take to abstraction like fishes to water, you need physical
layer activities to prime the process, and provide reference points.

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