The Centennial Light is often pointed to as evidence for the supposedly sinister business strategy known as planned obsolescence. Lightbulbs and various other technologies could easily last for decades, many believe, but it’s more profitable to introduce artificial lifespans so that companies get repeat sales. “That’s sort of the conspiracy theory of planned obsolescence,” says Mohanbir Sawhney, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University.
So is this conspiracy theory true? Does planned obsolescence really exist?
When you find yourself in the middle of the Nevada desert, on a 100-degree day, you wonder: who in the world would build something here?
Elon Musk, of course.
Tesla’s Gigafactory is perhaps the best example of the literal scale of Elon Musk’s ambitions. When the factory is complete, it will be the largest building in the world by footprint and, if all goes according to plan, will eventually churn out enough batteries to supply 150 gigawatt hours of batteries per year. That’s enough for 1.5 million Model 3s. Tesla hopes to build 35GWh of batteries per year by 2018, equivalent to 500,000 Model 3s.
Here’s the problem with much of the big data currently being gathered and analysed. The moment you start looking backwards to seek the longer view, you have far too much of the recent stuff and far too little of the old. Short-sightedness is built into the structure, in the form of an overwhelming tendency to over-estimate short-term trends at the expense of history.
When you think about it, shedding tears from your eyes is rather strange. Why do we do it? And why might there be differences between men and women?