Saturday, November 24, 2012

More Than You May Want to Know About Why DARPA's Factory of the Future is Open Source

We'll start with a true polymath, Eric Steven Raymond, then go to the headline story and then return to Raymond.
From Wikipedia:
Eric Steven Raymond (born December 4, 1957), often referred to as ESR, is an American computer programmer, author and open source software advocate. After the 1997 publication of The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Raymond was for a number of years frequently quoted as an unofficial spokesman for the open source movement.[2] He is also known for his 1990 edit and later updates of the Jargon File, currently in print as the The New Hacker's Dictionary....
First up, from Homesteading the Noosphere: 
...6. The Hacker Culture as Gift Economy
To understand the role of reputation in the open-source culture, it is helpful to move from history further into anthropology and economics, and examine the difference between exchange cultures and gift cultures.

Human beings have an innate drive to compete for social status; it's wired in by our evolutionary history. For the 90% of that history that ran before the invention of agriculture, our ancestors lived in small nomadic hunting-gathering bands. High-status individuals got the healthiest mates and access to the best food. This drive for status expresses itself in different ways, depending largely on the degree of scarcity of survival goods.

Most ways humans have of organizing are adaptations to scarcity and want. Each way carries with it different ways of gaining social status.

The simplest way is the command hierarchy. In command hierarchies, allocation of scarce goods is done by one central authority and backed up by force. Command hierarchies scale very poorly [Mal]; they become increasingly brutal and inefficient as they get larger. For this reason, command hierarchies above the size of an extended family are almost always parasites on a larger economy of a different type. In command hierarchies, social status is primarily determined by access to coercive power....
From ars technica:

DARPA's factory of the future looks like open source development
DARPA's Adaptive Vehicle Make project aims to reinvent manufacturing by making …

DARPA is looking to solve the problem of runaway defense systems projects by reinventing how complex systems are developed and manufactured. They aim to do this by borrowing from the playbooks of integrated circuit developers and open-source software projects. And in the process, the agency's Adaptive Vehicle Make project may reinvent manufacturing itself, and seed the workforce with a new generation of engineers who can "compile" innovations into new inventions without having to be tied to a manufacturing plant.
"The direction we've been going in defense acquisition can't last," DARPA AVM deputy program manager and Army Lt. Col. Nathan Wiedenman said in a press briefing attended by Ars Technica. "The systems we build are more complex, but the way we do it hasn't changed much in 50 years." He pointed out that the Army alone had spent $22 billion over the last 10 years on programs that got cancelled. He said that DOD wasn't far off from a tongue-in-cheek statement made by former Lockheed Martin president Norman Augustine—one of "Augustine's Laws"—that by 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase one aircraft.

Factory of the future
The AVM project aims to change that by reducing the "product cycle" of defense systems from an average of almost 10 years down to two years—similar to the design cycle for new integrated circuits. To do that, DARPA is funding the development of software tools, called META, that will allow engineers to design, prototype and test systems collaboratively before they are ever built.

And today, DARPA released the final solicitation for IFAB (Instant Foundry Adaptive through Bits), a computer-driven flexible manufacturing capability that will allow for distributed, software-driven manufacturing of systems in "foundries" that can be quickly reconfigured to new tasks, using technologies like computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) machine tools and "additive manufacturing" (otherwise known as 3D printing) to scale up rapidly from prototype to full production runs. The goal of the IFAB program, Wiedenman said, is "to build the factory of the future, using software that can rapidly reconfigure a factory for new products with no need to retool to build something new."...MORE
And back to Chapter 6:
...Our society is predominantly an exchange economy. This is a sophisticated adaptation to scarcity that, unlike the command model, scales quite well. Allocation of scarce goods is done in a decentralized way through trade and voluntary cooperation (and in fact, the dominating effect of competitive desire is to produce cooperative behavior). In an exchange economy, social status is primarily determined by having control of things (not necessarily material things) to use or trade.

Most people have implicit mental models for both of the above, and how they interact with each other. Government, the military, and organized crime (for example) are command hierarchies parasitic on the broader exchange economy we call `the free market'. There's a third model, however, that is radically different from either and not generally recognized except by anthropologists; the gift culture.

Gift cultures are adaptations not to scarcity but to abundance. They arise in populations that do not have significant material-scarcity problems with survival goods. We can observe gift cultures in action among aboriginal cultures living in ecozones with mild climates and abundant food. We can also observe them in certain strata of our own society, especially in show business and among the very wealthy....MORE
Here's the table of contents of  Homesteading the Noosphere and here is Mr. Raymond's homepage.
See also "Locke and Land Title" which is chapter 5, here in a later version of the book.

From the notes:
[N] The term `noosphere' is an obscure term of art in philosophy. It is pronounced KNOW-uh-sfeer (two o-sounds, one long and stressed, one short and unstressed tending towards schwa). If one is being excruciatingly correct about one's orthography, the term is properly spelled with a diaeresis over the second `o' to mark it as a separate vowel.

In more detail; this term for ``the sphere of human thought'' derives from the Greek `noos' meaning `mind', `intelligence', or `perception'. It was invented by E. LeRoy in Les origines humaines et l'evolution de l'intelligence (Paris 1928). It was popularized first by the Russian biologist and pioneering ecologist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky, (1863–1945), then by the Jesuit paleontologist/philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955). It is with Teilhard de Chardin's theory of future human evolution to a form of pure mind culminating in union with the Godhead that the term is now primarily associated.