What is “Advanced” Technology?

By: Mark Thornton
Robot Bricklayer

During research for my book The Skyscraper Curse I started using the phrase “Advanced technology.” It means a means of production that is currently beyond the capability of society or at least something that is “cutting edge.” I would argue that is also useful in terms of the Austrian Business Cycle Theory (ABCT) because when artificially low interest rates impact an economy’s structure of production, it typically induces the production and introduction of new “premature” technology that typically would only occur in the future, if at all.

We might be witnessing one such advanced technology on the campus of Auburn University–a robot bricklayer. The reason for this speculation is that low interest rates have increased the amount of construction and driven up costs so that new technology in the form of the robot bricklayer have been rush in to alleviate the high cost and lack of labor. Two masons and the robot can lay rough four times the number of bricks that two masons can lay.

 

SAM100, short for Semi-Automated Mason, will be the first of its kind in Alabama. It lays more than 3,000 bricks per day, using a conveyor belt and a robotic arm. Auburn University and Construction Robotics have partnered together to bring SAM to life on campus.

Construction Robotics, located in Victor, New York, created SAM to “leverage human jobs, not replace them.” According to the MIT Technology Review, human masons can lay 300 to 500 bricks a day — three times less than SAM. 

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