Must-Read: Insufficient Data: "What is the minimum number of people you need in order to maintain (not necessarily to extend)...(2010):
...our current level of technological civilization?.... How many people does it take to design a new automobile? Back in Henry Ford's day... a few hundred men. But modern cars are different. A typical 2010 automobile may contain roughly 20-30 electric motors and actuators (for everything from the central locking system to the air conditioning and the motorized seats and windows). There's a similar number of microprocessors involved in everything from the engine and gearbox management systems to the entertainment, navigation, communication, and accident mitigation systems (for example, the sensors and microprocessors that control the sequence of pyrotechnic detonators that inflate air bags, tension seat belts, and collapse the steering column in event of a collision). The in-car electronics alone require on the order of 10-20 million lines of code to run all these services--which implies the combined efforts of thousands of software developers, never mind the small army who design not only the body panels but the handling tools the production line robots use to install them.