Ahlava, A. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic or invited talk


Since the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century, the machines of work have been seen as threatening the human worker. Computers are the newest machines, but they are machines of a very different kind. Computers follow a logic that is very different from the machines of the industrial factory. Computers make things the same way an artist or a craftsman would do things.
The still prevalent system of the industrial world is based on economies of scale. Computer-based digital manufacturing does not work this way. It does not use molds or casts. Without these, there is no need to repeat the same form. Every piece can be unique, a work of art. “Repetition no longer saves money and variations no longer cost more money.” This means that the marginal cost of production is always the same. Big was better in the industrial world, but not any more. A small workshop can compete with the
largest factory. Production is not affected by size. The emerging society is based on flat marginal costs. It is an economy without scale; it can be a human-sized economy.
The biggest challenge for a worker in this new environment is to think like an artist, at the same time making good use of new technology. The artist becomes the symbol of humanness building on the increasing financial value of personalization and variation. It is not a zero sum game between faulty men and flawless machines. The machines propose and create potentials rather than take over.
Contemporary research highlights the roles of emotion and empathy. These phenomena are more related to the ethical and aesthetic than the purely rational and quantifiable. This is another reason why art and craftsmanship can provide us with a valuable lens through which the technology-enabled, post-industrial work can be better understood.
Period11 Jun 2018
Event titleWork Future Design Revolution Beauty Courage: Design seminar
Event typeSeminar
LocationHelsinki, Finland
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • work
  • future
  • Design
  • revolution
  • beauty
  • courage
  • future forecasting
  • collaboration
  • multidisciplinary