Mike Cooley

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Mike Cooley (born 1935 in Tuam , Ireland ) is an Irish engineer and union activist . In 1981 Cooley received the Right Livelihood Award .


Mike Cooley studied in Germany , the Switzerland and England Engineering and was in the area of computer-aided design in a number of companies in executive positions working.

At the end of the 1970s he was chief designer at the English aviation group Lucas Aerospace and chairman of the TASS technicians' union for this area. Mike Cooley was one of the main initiators of the Lucas plan presented in 1976 , an alternative plan to convert production to civilian goods ( arms conversion ). Instead of producing weapons, socially useful goods, such as solar heating systems , artificial kidneys and a road-rail bus, should not only preserve jobs, but rearrange production in such a way that the motivation and knowledge of employees should generate social benefits. The proposals of the alternative plan were not accepted by the group management. In 1981, the same year Mike Cooley received the Right Livelihood Award, he was fired from Lucas Aerospace.

A year earlier he published his criticism of the automation and computerization of design work in England under the title "Architect or Bee?" - an allusion to a quote from " Das Kapital " by Karl Marx , which focuses on the human imagination. This book was published two years later in Germany and has been translated into numerous languages ​​to this day.

In the following years, Mike Cooley worked primarily as a consultant on numerous projects in the private and government sectors. He is a founding member and was President of the International Research Institute in Human Centered Systems . He has published well over 100 scientific papers and fifteen books and has been a visiting professor at universities in Europe, Australia, the USA and Japan. Cooley is chairman of the international advisory board of the journal Artificial Intelligence and Society . Until today (2007) he writes and teaches.

Fonts (selection)

  • Products for life instead of weapons for death . Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1982. ISBN 3-499-14830-7 .
  • Peter Löw-Beer: Industry and happiness. Lucas Aerospace's alternative plan . With a foreword by Mike Cooley. Berlin: Wagenbach, 1981. ISBN 3803110890 .


  1. "[...] a bee puts some human builders to shame by building their wax cells. What distinguishes the worst builder from the best bee from the start is that he built the cell in his head before building it in wax At the end of the work process, a result comes out which at the beginning of the process was already in the mind of the worker, that is, already ideally present. " - Karl Marx, Das Kapital . Volume 1, MEW 23, p. 193

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