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“Globalization Was a Lie”

“Globalization Was a Lie”

Chris Campbell

Posted June 27, 2024

Chris Campbell

In the gleaming corridors of Silicon Valley, there's a persistent belief that every problem has a technological solution.

But one of the organizers of Reindustrialize, Austin Bishop, isn’t convinced.

In the midst of a deluge of technological fervor, he dared to ask: “What if the biggest challenges facing America aren’t about a lack of technology?” 

That question hits on the most interesting dynamic I noticed at the Reindustrialization summit in Detroit. 

One on side, there’s massive amounts of technological innovation on display. On the other, some, like Bishop, are asking: “How much of our problems are perhaps caused by technology getting in the way?” 

Imagine a country where every citizen has a smartphone, where AI algorithms optimize everything from traffic flows to grocery deliveries, where virtual reality allows us to escape into digital worlds at will.

Now… look around you.

In many ways, that country is already here. And yet, our most pressing problems persist.

Globalization Was a Lie

Through this lens, Bishop described globalization as "the largest accounting fraud in American history."

The benefits were easy to quantify: lower prices on consumer goods, increased corporate profits. But the costs? They were harder to measure, and often left off the balance sheet entirely.

And these costs weren't just economic.

They were social, cultural, even existential. As manufacturing jobs moved overseas, entire communities hollowed out. The social fabric that had bound together small towns and mid-sized cities began to fray.

In the Rust Belt states, where factories once hummed with activity, a different sound now echoes: the wail of ambulance sirens responding to overdose calls. 

The opioid crisis, which has devastated communities across America, isn't just a public health issue. To Bishop, it's a symptom of a deeper malaise.

There's a high correlation, he said, between the decimation of our middle class and our manufacturing capability and all the knock-on effects.

Studies have shown a clear link between job loss in manufacturing and increased opioid use. The factory floor, it turns out, wasn't just a place of work. It was a cornerstone of community, of identity, of purpose.

What existed wasn't just a robust manufacturing sector. It was a culture that valued making things, that took pride in craftsmanship, that understood the dignity of work.

This cultural foundation can't be rebuilt with an app or an algorithm. But that doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

To that end, Bishop began his journey with a question: 

“If Bitcoin is all about the decentralization of the world of bits, what would decentralization of the world of atoms look like? What if AI and other new breakthroughs allowed you to drastically collapse cost curves in physical industries?”

Thus, Atomic Industries was born - seeking to build a reindustrialized future for America.

Atoms > Bits? 

Indeed, Bishop is no luddite… 

Atomic Industries leverages high-tech processes to help automate manufacturing, specifically in tooling design and fabrication.

By automating processes that have been mostly offshore, Atomic is working to make domestic manufacturing more competitive and efficient. 

Atomic’s approach aligns with Bishop's view that technology should be applied to solve concrete problems in physical industries rather than just creating more digital products.

That way, emerging technologies like AI and automation can help by drastically reducing costs in physical industries.

The solution, he says, isn’t to replace human labor.

It’s to enhance it.

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