Report: Slave and Expert Systems

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  The 19th Century: Machine-Assisted Manufacturing

Eli Whitney's proposal for a simplification and standardization of component parts marked a further milestone in the advance of the automation of work processes. In 1797 he suggested the manufacture of muskets with completely interchangeable parts. As opposed to the older method under which each gun was the individual product of a highly skilled gunsmith and each part hand-fitted, his method permitted large production runs of parts that were readily fitted to other parts without adjustment and could relatively easy be performed by machines.

By the middle of the 19th century the general concepts of division of labor, assembly of standardized parts and machine-assisted manufacture were well established. On both sides of the Atlantic large factories were in operation, which used specialized machines to improve costs, quality and quantity of their products.

browse Report:
Slave and Expert Systems
    Introduction: The Substitution of Human Faculties with Technology: Early Tools
-3   Early Tools and Machines
-2   The 17th Century: The Invention of the First "Computers"
-1   The 18th Century: Powered Machines and the Industrial Revolution
0   The 19th Century: Machine-Assisted Manufacturing
+1   The 19th Century: First Programmable Computing Devices
+2   1913: Henry Ford and the Assembly Line
+3   1940s - Early 1950s: First Generation Computers
1980s: Artificial Intelligence (AI) - From Lab to Life
Robot relates to any automatically operated machine that replaces human effort, though it may not resemble human beings in appearance or perform functions in a humanlike manner. The term is derived from the Czech word robota, meaning "forced labor." Modern use of the term stems from the play R.U.R., written in 1920 by the Czech author Karel Capek, which depicts society as having become dependent on mechanical workers called robots that are capable of doing any kind of mental or physical work. Modern robot devices descend through two distinct lines of development--the early automation, essentially mechanical toys, and the successive innovations and refinements introduced in the development of industrial machinery.