Faustronics: From dreams to tools

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Dr. Faustus is a mythic character of German origin who has been used in various forms for hundreds of years by many writers and artists including Christopher Marlow, Rembrandt van Rijin, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Hector Berlioz and Thomas Mann to name a few. The myth of Dr. Faustus or Faust, as he is also known, portrays the main character as a scientist who makes a deal with the devil in order to find the true essence of life and the ultimate knowledge about the inner makings of the world (“was die Welt im Innersten zusammenhaelt”). The deal is that the devil will serve Dr. Faustus up to the moment the scientist reaches the zenith of human happiness – a moment Dr. Faustus believes will never come – and then the devil will take his soul.

Goethe’s Faust is a rather dreadful must-read in German High Schools but it’s a classic tale of the limits and folly of the human reach. What fascinated me was the fact that Dr. Faustus could create a little, artificial human – the “homunculus” – who was constructed out of “spagyric (herbal) substances in an alembic (two retorts), kept in horse dung for 40 days then fed on an arcanum of human blood for 40 weeks.”

For me, Dr. Faustus’ creation was the ultimate tool: a human machine. It was the perfect task-driven helper without the “human traits” of character and personality – not unlike the android described later by Philip K. Dick in his short sci-fi novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which served as the basis for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.

In that respect Faust’s homonculus and its sci-fi cousins represent the long-lasting and ongoing human desire to create better tools. Artificial intelligence and robotics are the real-world equivalent to what authors could only dream up in years past. What’s interesting, though, is that we have yet to imbue our “tools” with enough human traits to make them perfect. No matter how sophisticated our tools get, there is still the need for human input.

To be fair, there has been plenty of discussion over the past 25 years about a phenomenon know as technilogical singularity – or just “The Singularity” – in which technological achievement will reach a point that the technology will be able to develop itself, without the need for human intervention. Some say we are not far from that happening. As Ray Kurzweil, the author and speech-recognition pioneer, points out in his essay The Law of Accelerating Returns, technological change is occuring at an exponentially faster pace so that in the 21st century 100 years of progress will actually feel more like 20,000 years of progress.

Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history,” he writes. “The implications include the merger of biological and non-biological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.Kurzweil puts the date of The Singularity in the year 2045.

The point here is not that machines will one day take over the world Terminator-style. The point is that technical advances are providing all of us in the creative professions with very sophisticated tools that allow us to produce highly creative products at a very fast pace. However – and this is a big however – with technological advancement comes danger. In terms of creativity, the danger is that we as designers will rely on our tools at the expense of our personalities, emotions, and creative instincts. If that happens we may get the products we want but they will have no defining characteristics. Just look at most of the cell phones on the market. We are indeed on an accelerating path but how human beings apply intelligent design tools will ultimately decide how successful our creations will be.

Having been a designer for the last 40 years I have some perspective on the speed of digital tool development. Early on in my career, I used all the traditional design tools. Things like markers, colored pens, acrylic paints, clay and the other funky little things used in the arts were always at arms length. Later, however, I realized that to be a holistic designer – one who wanted to humanize technology and industry and not just make objects as an industrial designer – I realized that those tools were getting in my way. My thoughts and energy wouldn’t wait for the paint to dry or the clay to fire.

We strategic designers are in the business of visual communication and we rely on the right tools to connect our thoughts with the right business results. I realized early on that to meet my goals, I needed a different way and different tools.

In response, frog became the first design company to use the most powerful computer aided design (CAD) system. Twenty years ago the VAX computers filled a small room and our two workstations filled a second one. It took about twenty minutes to “render” an object like a faucet, an office chair or a computer. But it was a start. Now I believe that the digital tools used today in design, engineering, virtual reality simulations, economics, and finance have already accelerated towards the point where singularity becomes imaginable. Digital tool literacy starts even before students get into higher professional education. I know this because each year about thirty high school graduates participate on the entry exam for my class on convergent industrial design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and most of them are capable of using professional, digital design tools in 2D and 3D equally as good or better than highly paid design professionals did just a couple years ago. Prices have fallen, user interfaces have improved and the power of performance both in hardware and software has multiplied.

We know how much design has changed over the years. Fifty years ago good design was reserved for the fringes of society like just another form of fine art – it was nice to have if you could afford it. Now design is everywhere. Design tools are everywhere. And as we can see from the young people entering design schools, there is an abundance of people mastering those tools.

Now the goals of the designer have changed. Today a design is much more defined by the “big numbers” of business goals, budgets and entrepreneurial intentions then it ever has been. Plus, there is a premium on originality and creativity in addition to the speed demanded by a finicky fast-paced market. While the visual language of expressive shapes cannot look like Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa” or take the time Henri Moore may have taken for one of his sculptures there is still a need for visual elegance and individuality. The photos of Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and Annie Leibovitz are perfect examples of this kind of original visual expression. Equally as individual though perhaps less elegant are shows like Sesame Street and Spongebob Squarepants where the characters have sharp emotional design and, in the case of Spongebob, strong color balance. Most images and shows in the pop culture are a melee of visually and emotionally confusing noise, which is essentially bad business. Let’s not forget that living in a post-modern and post-industrial world, our interaction with modern business and convergent industries now means that branding, identity and personalization are more important in driving profits then the effectivity-driven manufacturing base.

This is why there is a need for digital tools that combine the human qualities of emotion and observation with the electronic qualities of speed and efficiency. Yet there has been no real word for this kind of human-electronic symbiosis. As an homage to the classic Greek ideals of expressing suchness by name, at first I called it “eutronica” – a mix of “eu” (the good), “electron” (the electrical sub-atomic unit), and “-ica” (from estetica – the life of senses or emotions). In other words, doing good is feeling good. However, with Dr. Faust in mind, the darker and more ambiguous “Faustronics” is probably a better description. The combination of human emotion and advanced technology offers designers a new role and a means to confront the ever-changing standards of originality.

Within the design profession, we finally possess tremendous computing abilities – the digital electronic-mechanical tools of software and hardware illustration and documentation – capable of moving the interaction between designer and the machine closer to our imaginative thinking process. Because of that a cynic might say that better tools equals better design but it’s not that simple. Tools are always used by wo/men and not the other way around. In fact, high tech engineering related tools used by designers who haven’t taken the time to learn how to use them differently from how they used more art-related tools often results in mediocre designs reaching production. The fundamental question for the creative profession is how good can we make it and can we withstand the seduction of all-to-easy output?

As more digital tools become available, it’s logical that designers use an increasing amount of them. frog certainly has used its share. Over the years, we’ve spent millions of dollars pioneering tools. Sometimes we’ve been first-time users in order to inspire and support manufacturers and software companies that were developing the tools. Other times I was just curious. I felt that not trying certain tools would be a failure to our mission as designers of products that needed to be replicated for mass consumption on a large scale. For example, the CAD tools frog pioneered were originally made for engineers because the engineering process is more rational and also more replicable by digital means, especially in the later stages of the engineering process. Back then I understood the direction design was going in and what kind of tools the profession would need. Now, “design tools” are far more versatile and flexible than the original CAD programs but they still carry that engineering-heritage in their DNA. It just goes to show that the act of definition is easier to program then the act of expression.

 

The Digital Process

So if digital tools only work in the right human hands, the question must then be: what creative input must the designer bring to the tools? All innovative sensual statements are defined by a creative process that turns an abstract idea into a material realization. How that process unfolds is an ongoing matter of discussion for artists and neurologists but historically most creative people have been able to qualify their creative experiences into two stages: an initial surge of abstract inspiration followed by a period of practical work using the tools of their trade. Mozart, for example, claimed to produce entire symphonies in his head as if in a “pleasant lively dream” after which he would commit everything to paper from memory. One must imagine he would then turn to his piano to work out the kinks.

At frog there may be similar processes amongst individuals but the real imaginative process – one that results not just in creativity but in innovation and results – comes when individual thoughts collide in group discussions and brainstorming. One of the tools we created to manufacture the creative process is frogThink – a session of exploratory steps we initiate with our clients to get at the root of what needs to happen and why.

In this age of incredible computing abilities with digital electronic-mechanical tools of software and hardware illustration and documentation, a process like frogThink might seem dated. But the fact is electronic tools are still very limiting for truly original, creative work. First, computers need definition. The magic of creativity comes from open-ness, non-definition, and a certain amount of ambiguity – all enemies of the computer. That’s why freethinking and an interactive-creative dialog are vital to the creative process. Heinrich von Kleist’s describes this back and forth verbal process best in his famous essay Über die allmähliche Verfertigung der Gedanken beim Reden (The Gradual Completion of Thought During Conversation). “By talking with someone and exchanging points of view,” he writes, “ideas gel and take shape.” I would say that only through a productive and challenging meeting of critical intellects do quality new thoughts become relevant.

The second reason why electronic tools are limiting is that they don’t offer any resistance. That is, they don’t show the user his or her mistakes like, say, a carpentry tool might reveal a flawed skill. Because of that an electronic-only approach to creativity is a danger to the creative process and can fool users into thinking they are creative when they aren’t. In other words, the electronic tool is powerful but it pretends.

That means the designer’s judgment on what is essential and relevant and what is not becomes more important than the technology. For example, virtually anyone can make a realistic image or video of anything visible to the naked eye. But this overwhelming amount of visual information doesn’t serve much purpose because most of it is without concept and a meaningless waste of time, energy, and material. Most of it is just a new source of visual pollution. Nobody stopped to ask or even cared to ask whether the content was relevant or even original. Stolen or copy-pasted imagery is rampant. What’s more is that the visual impact of second-tier cable television or absolutely control-free websites such as YouTube on which these videos are presented has a negative influence on our ability to nurture our creative minds. It is especially devastating for the imaginative development of our children.

To allay this electronic danger to our creative imaginations, we must first contend with the potential social quagmire of kicking intellectual property and originality into the gutter by learning very fast how to deal with self-recorded, copy-pasted, or stolen imagery and media. Then we must promote and re-learn the process of inspired abstraction a la Mozart and his “lively dreams” so that digital images, videos and other “media files” will become expressive statements of human culture that is beneficial and inspiring rather than just noise. And lastly, we must be closely linked to both the methods of production and the art of recycling. To do that we must use technology as a source and a condition of more creativity before we start to create.

 

The Digital Stone Axe

Tools have long played a role in human and animal development. But what sets humans apart from animals is not our physical tools – chimpanzees use sticks and otters use rocks to get access to food – but our creative tools. Pencils and paintbrushes may be rudimentary devices, but they allow us to bridge our imaginations to the real world. Consider the cave paintings. They’re probably the first form of recorded history but they also mark a shift in the way the brain works. The earliest humans relied solely on one-way reality-to-brain cognitive reception and processing to make sense of their world. The cave paintings reveal the move to a two-way interaction involving cognitive analysis followed by an imaginative response. By translating the “images” in their brains into visual representation, the cave painters launched one of humankind’s lasting and most powerful faculties: the ability to communicate.

The word “communicate” comes from the Latin word communis, which not coincidentally is also the root for the word “community.” Without communication we would all exist in isolated fearful tribes. With it we have the capability of empathy and expression. Using a pencil and drawing an image of what we imagine, shaping clay into forms that have never been in existence, hitting “sounding objects” and composing music that touches our soul – all this is part of the miracle of eternal creation that links us together as a part of human history. Creative communication allows clearer messages and deeper understandings. It gives us power – the same power displayed in and ultimately transported through the cave paintings.

Of course, artistic expression didn’t stop with the cave paintings. As the human mind became more complex so did our ideas and visual representations. That meant we also had to develop our tools to keep up with our developing need for expression and communication. However, the relationship between the quality of an idea and the quality of its communicative physical manifestation has always been defined by the complexity of creative tools available and the skills that have been developed to use them. For example, the earliest expressive tools that we know of were crudely shaped stones and earth or body-based pigments. The artistic expression that came from those tools is astonishing when we consider the time in which they were used and the communication barrier that was overcome by using them. But when we compare things like cave paintings with modern-day photorealistic works, we understand that prehistoric artists had to accept a limited range of expression because their tools were few in number and low in sophistication.

What’s interesting and a good lesson for designers today is that there is a powerful emotional strength embedded in the cave paintings that cannot be duplicated by a machine. Does this mean we should we stop using computers? Of course not. Technology has had a significant impact on our cognitive systems and capabilities and it has enhanced our freedom of expression tremendously. In fact, the future of electronic machines is pointing to a mimicking of the imaginative creative process that Mozart and other creative professionals intuitively used. Ultimately, we would like to have a magical interface between our brain and our creative tools – kind of a hyper-smart brain-to-machine converter that transmits the images from our brain directly into the computer display – and even would allow us to modify the design “on the fly” just by the power of our imagination. And if this could be done in a multi-disciplinary team, we could accelerate new design and business concept creation towards nearly zero-time.

While this technology of “Faustronics” still is a bit like science fiction, there’s no denying that there’s already an essential interaction between human thinking and virtual and physical output by machines. This relationship can only work, however, if we understand and know what computers and software can do well and what they cannot do well. We must use their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. In essence we must learn how to interact with the tool.

With the rapid pace of technological advancement this is no easy matter. Even within the relatively short history of computer design, there is evidence of radical change. Compared to today’s machines, the memory-limited graphic user interface (GUI) of the Xerox-Star and Apple-Macintosh computers from the mid-1980s is like comparing medieval stitching patterns to highly imaginative contemporary art. There is no comparison. To know how to use computers we must keep up with the ongoing technological changes. And even that is only a part of the bigger challenge. Today’s user must also contend with an array of memory heavy interfaces that can be quite confusing and non-functional. That’s why the best user interfaces are focused and simple using elegant symbolism rather than lots of extraneous mega-graphics (i.e. digital trash).

Creative professionals – especially younger ones – also have to withstand certain digital temptations. These days virtually all young designers and design students are digitally literate, having grown up in an increasingly more digital environment at school and at home in which using computers and software for creative purposes has become second nature. They can create on a machine using “design programs” as previous generations could only do with pen on paper, and they can do it very quickly. The danger is confusing the noise (illustration) with the signal (idea) or the “output” with the “substance” – I call it silicon doodling. A common professional characteristic of many designers is that we are used to converting discussion, ideation, sketching and modeling into visual and emotional output and doing it quickly. That’s why the tendency is to use built-in digital “helpers” to increase output. Unfortunately, with all digital helpers (spell check, built-in illustrations, sampling, etc.), basic core skills are quite often never learned at the level they need to be learned. Typography, balanced proportions, and the integration of aesthetics versus ergonomics are lost causes in most physical and digital products today and the results can be quite depressive. Like food from a fast-food dinner, the user is left with a bloated stomach and a bad taste in his or her mouth.

This “quick-to-show” phenomenon has influenced design before and it has set long lasting but regrettable precedents. For example, when the model shop masters at the legendary design school Hochschule fuer Gestaltung in Ulm (HfG) discovered that polystyrene sheets could be easily glued together with vinegar acid or trichloroethylene (a poison!), the resulting smooth surfaces only left the corners to be treated. As a result students disregarded time-honored but time-consuming clay and wood models. Suddenly many designs turned out to be square boxes with small radii – R 1.5 to 2mm was preferred – because bigger radii meant more hard work with the file. Complex and softer shapes were not possible anymore at all. By “simplifying” the model making exercise, the HfG model makers had inadvertently promoted a new “boxy” style that seemed to pervade every new design. Add shades of grey along with a yellow, orange, or soft-green button and you have “German Design” of the 1960s and 1970s.

To avoid such pitfalls and ensure a human-creative side to Faustronics tools, designers not only have to understand computers but they must also accept that the evolution of computers is still ahead of us. Digital design tools run synchronous with digital supply chain and production tools, both of which are always developing and improving. That means you have to keep up with the upgrades and keep learning or you fall behind. Ironically, one also has to understand the asymmetry of digital lifecycles. Hardware products live one year. Hardware platforms live a couple of years. Software applications get upgraded year by year but software operating systems seem to have an eternal life.

For design professionals all this constant change demands adaptability and fluidity both in temperament and in the tools we use. Re-programmable digital tool applications offer the designer and design strategist fluidity and along with it a new degree of freedom even when new technology in software and hardware change. The ability of computers to create bionic shapes defined by the creative application of mathematical formulas and non-resolvable chaos equations is becoming virtually limitless. Today, we can run samples off algorithms or programs, wait for the results and then chose, modify, re-run and so on. While the results of this work will always boil down to the human ability to judge and choose the final product, it doesn’t hurt to have quality options from which to choose.

 

Virtual Reality Simulations

One tool that is poised to revolutionize digital design is virtual reality. As we all know, “VR” has been around for some time. It’s already a very viable and safe tool for product development and user simulation (the automobile industry uses it for automotive interior simulation and it has long been valuable to the health care industry where it is used for surgical simulations). However, as these kinds of applications are still mostly controlled and designed for technocrats, the opportunities for “the rest of us” are what will make VR the next big thing – and perhaps provide us with the most humanistic tool we’ve ever experienced. Fortunately, the Silicon Valley digital renaissance man Jaron Lanier has been working toward this goal for some time.

I had the privilege to work with Jaron on the frox hypermedia system – a frog adventure from the late 80s – and I have rarely met a more radical and ethically committed person. Jaron is a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author. He is the mind who expanded digital computer interactions and interfaces from line-based or icon-based “screens” to virtual “spaces.”  He also co-invented and named “Virtual Reality” in the 1980s. Jaron has the unique ability to visualize technology through the lens of human behavior, which makes him, among other things, an expert people watcher.

Once, during a trip to New York, I was walking down the street in Manhattan and happened upon Jaron sitting at a street side table in front of a restaurant. I joined him and we ordered the NY-classic (bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese), and suddenly a huge rainstorm turned south Central Park into flooded chaos. Sitting under the storefront canopy we observed in awe how people changed their behaviors: most acted in panic but some kept their cool. A well-dressed middle-aged man carrying an attaché case walked down the sidewalk completely soaked from his tie to his wingtips acting as if there was no rain at all. Jaron smiled and said, “He’s an alien – a true New Yorker.” Like a novelist researching characters for a book, Jaron is always making mental notes about how people react to situations so that he can create more realistic VR interactions.

Jaron’s first company was VPL Research Inc., which was funded by the French company Thomson, but after they withdrew their support in 1999 Sun Microsystems acquired VPL’s seminal portfolio of patents related to Virtual Reality and networked 3D graphics. The technology Jaron and his team developed at VPL Research Inc. was a defined virtual space comparable to a CAD space, but with totally interactive “objects.” He also created the first usable software platform architecture for immersive virtual reality applications as well as the first “avatars” or “representations of users” within digital systems. Then there was the dynamic user interface Jaron created for a VR prototype that used a “data glove” and 3D head-mounted displays. The glove would track the movement of a user’s arm, hand, and fingers while the helmet-like monitor would allow multiple users to move and act in an artificial 3-dimensional space. The user would look out for a menu of “geometric elements” (3-dimensional objects like cubes and spheres) where he or she would be able to grab and place these objects in the virtual space then change their size, color, and material. The user could also move within the space by walking or flying.

Jaron believes that “VR” will be a consumer-accessible technology by 2010. As stated, industrial designers already use it in the developmental process. What has yet to happen – and this is the big opportunity for VR specialists like Jaron – is to develop VR as an interaction model between people in a single virtual space with a full array of communicative abilities from voice to gesture and maybe even to certain senses like smell.

In an interview with java software developers in 1990 Jaron reiterated this point. “What most people are curious about,” he said, “ … isn’t so much these industrial uses; rather, they want to experience some new level of cultural expression that arises out of virtual worlds. The main element I hope we’ll see in virtual reality is an expressive power. And so, what I envision is not so much a pre-programmed virtual world that you might play as a game, but rather a virtual world that you can change from the inside; a world that people use as a form of expression, in which they’re creating things together. Just as people make up their own Web pages, they would make up little realities and visit each other’s realities, or co-create them. And I think that level of activity would give rise to really, really wonderful new sorts of human relationships and experiences.”

In my opinion this is the future of co-designing. It certainly advances the still primitive “choices” Web 2.0 is offering as we can see through the positive steps already being taken in the development of VR, especially in video games, websites like “Second Life,” and special effects for movies. And yet, we have a ways to go. The big void is still the lack of expressive power required to make any virtual interaction of humans with each other and with objects a relevant interaction. Even as hardware gains progressive computing power every year, software development is still very short-term in regards to concept and human-minded performance (ironically, software operating systems such as MacOS, Windows, or the Symbian mobile OS seem to have a near eternal life). In fact, in my view it’s going to take a new concept (and a new company) to break this weird imbalance. Perhaps the “change” will be similar to the way Google connected smart search with customized advertising. Whatever it is, it will have to be a very creative endeavor.

Fortunately, Jaron’s advice for our next generation of digital artists also applies to creative strategists – the entrepreneurs of the future. “Technology offers convenience, but people are searching for meaning,” he says. “Most digital developments offer neither, for the simple reason that the creators are confused about what a computer is.  A skeptical appraisal of computers and the psychology of relating to them can break through the blandness barrier that confines most digital creations.

So far, all computers are tools just like a hammer and a chisel. It takes holistic geniuses such as Michelangelo or Henry Moore to use them to “discover” the magical shape hidden within the raw stone. What we may have to look for in cultural virtual reality applications is some kind of hammer and chisel like elementary resistance. For it is resistance that forces us to shape with more thought and responsibility.

 

Brain Tools

Interestingly, there are still traditionalists out there whose reaction to digital tools and computers is to ignore them. This is true for both designers as well as many business executives. They just don’t understand that computers are just tools. Its’ as if they still think of them as “macchinas della morte” (death machines), as the late Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass has called computers. Because of that these traditionalist designers continue to draw, design, and model the old-fashioned way with pen, paper, and clay modeling. There’s something Romantic – and ironically original – about this approach, and their work is good quality. The problem is how they have to forward-connect the analog design into a digitally driven industrial process. Usually this is done by scanning, documentation and perhaps a digital clean up. All of this makes the analog-to-digital conversion quite clumsy. The bottom line is that there is no gain in this process, just added cost and time. When the tools are shaped, it is too late to dispute them shaping us.

In fact, our ultimate challenge as designers for business is to create our own tools. As computer-based design and creation becomes more sophisticated and supportive of creative thinking, we need to advance the design of computers, software, and applications for design and creative business planning and simulation purposes. The first step is to liberate the computer from its technical heritage as a soul-less, rational counting machine and advance digital technology into the ambiguous, non-plan-able domain of creation and inspiration.

Some advances have been made over the years and some haven’t. We still use the QWERTY keyboard, which is not only an obstacle to usability but a health issue as well (carpal tunnel syndrome or “keyboard disease” as it’s known in Germany claims thousands every year). But Douglas Engelbart’s “mouse” and the more current digital pen that includes gesture-based commands have pointed us in the right direction, so to speak. What’s still missing is an intuitive three-dimensional gesture device that can provide us with virtual clay or “digital foam,” as I like to call it.

Science fiction movies and books often offer helpful concepts for new tools or at least they can hint about future realities that people would like to embrace. Tom Cruise’s digital fingertips in Minority Report or the creation of command desks by thought and gesture in Hironobu Sakaguchi’s and Moto Sakakibara’s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within are two examples. The movies aren’t the only place from which we can draw inspiration but science fiction shares the same drive as design in that it is based upon dreams and visions about tomorrow. In fact, as designers we always have to work towards the future. One could say that converting dreams, hopes, and needs into a better future reality is a designer’s one true destiny.

Applied with skill, sophistication and imagination by talented specialists, tools can become creative amplifiers that have the ability to connect our thoughts to a higher meaning. Used in the wrong way, tools will only recycle and repackage strategies and products rather than create innovative ones. If creative minds in design, business, and education are to humanize industry and help create a sustainable future we need to nourish the human-electronic relationship and get closer to the state of “creative singularity” in which the purpose defines the means.

Ultimately we need energy and perseverance to do the right thing. Designers and basically all creatives are people who have a very vague “corporate definition” in terms of charter, which has to do with the many talents required (and normally not found very often in professionals). After having spent about forty years of my life for and with design, it is my hope that more and more designers and creative people have the courage and the guts to live up to our new challenges and to do, what we are supposed to do since the early days of the Arts & Crafts movement, the Vienna Secession and the Bauhaus, to the hfg (hochschule fuer gestaltung) Ulm and the post-modern movements all the way to bionics: we creatives can and must engage ourselves to humanize industry. There is a famous Koan in Zen I learned about in Japan: “what is essential about the past, the presence and the future?” – and the answer is “already here and tomorrow”. For myself, I learned from it that the past and presence are our life, but tomorrow is our obligation. It is my hope that this book may help – either by agreement or productive rejection – to motivate and inspire as many creative people as possible to apply human cultural thinking to the factories, and to use their abilities to the best effect. However, we never should allow the tools to get into our way: First we need to shape our dreams, and then allow our dreams to shape our tools.