The end of Chinese manufacturing and rebirth of US industry

July 30, 2012

Tesla Motors robotics manufacturing (credit: Tesla Motors)

There is great concern about China’s real-estate and infrastructure bubbles.  But these are just short-term challenges that China may be able to spend its way out of.

The real threat to China’s economy is bigger and longer term: its manufacturing bubble.

Rising costs and political pressure aren’t what’s going to rapidly change the equation. The disruption will come from a set of technologies that are advancing at exponential rates and converging, Vivek Wadhwa reports on Forbes.

These technologies include robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and nanotechnology.

China has many reasons to worry, and manufacturing will undoubtedly return to the U.S. — if not in this decade then early in the next. But the same jobs that left the U.S. won’t come back: they won’t exist.  What will the new jobs be?

Autodesk CEO Carl Bass says that just as we have created new, higher-paying jobs in every other industrial transition, we will create a new set of industries and professions in this one.

Carl Bass is one of the leading authorities on 3D printing and digital manufacturing, and I share his optimism that we will create an era of abundance.  But I worry if we will create the new jobs fast enough and distribute the prosperity. Carl and I discussed this at Singularity University a few months ago. And I also discussed China manufacturing with The Economist China bureau chief, Vijay Vaitheeswaran. You can find these videos below.