Kirsten Billhardt

Manufacturing Industry Strategist, Dell

I’m fascinated about this idea of the “Internet of Things,” where you have everyday objects like washing machines and refrigerators that have embedded technology in them that let those devices talk to each other and talk to you.

I think there’s a ton of human potential to make the world better for us. I was just reading the other day in the Economist about what Google is doing with driverless cars — they ran a pilot where they had a blind man in a car go through a drive-through. It was a test and there was someone else in the car, but think about what that is going to do to a society, if you can suddenly give personal mobility to people with disabilities or elderly who after a certain age it’s not safe for them to drive anymore. So here’s an area where this growth and technology is truly enabling human potential and making a real difference in their lives. That is the good. I’m optimistic. I see it as that’s how we’re going to direct technology to go, is to bring these kinds of benefits to people.

The insight here in talking about the maker movement is that with new technology, the scale of manufacturing is changing and it’s becoming much smaller. So no longer do you need to be this huge, monolithic corporation with billions of dollars and huge tools to produce something. Suddenly with the advent of additive manufacturing and joining together and buying lathes and other equipment, you can start manufacturing at a smaller, artisanal scale. That’s opened up a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurship and creativity and innovation.