I have talked about the effect of robotics and automated manufacturing foi rmany years - this was a well discussed topic back in the early days of the net, when the early adopters of the internet all collectively realized that robotics changed the planet's economy, and would change the planet's politics as well.
I posted this for example, not long ago...
The rest of you have taken a long long time to catch on to the basic, almost common sense understanding - that if manufacturing is done by robots, human workers will be surplus to requirements. That is, pal, we got no need of you, you have been permenantly downsized, "do you want fries with that" for the rest of your miserable unneeded life.
Well, it's taken what, 20-30 years - but the Very Serious People are starting to recognize what we all (we netkultur geeks) knew long ago. Robots change everything.
What will you do in a robotic future, when you are not needed?
Summary? You are pretty much screwed for the forseeable future. It's going to be like "Thunderdome Two - the fight for the last remaining lower middle class jobs! Two men enter, one man leaves!".
Here's a great metafilter post.... The Robots Are Coming .... with snippets and links to some of the recent thoughts from the VSP's. (Very Serious People, in case that's not obvious...)
All of a sudden, we looked up, and they were there. What if the explanation to the past half-decade --- or maybe the past decade and a half --- of the world’s economic malaise can be explained in one word: Robots. Maybe, in other words, the reason that corporate profits are higher than ever and yet jobs aren’t being created is because we have built machines to take those jobs. Paul Krugman thinks it’s possible.
If this is the wave of the future, it makes nonsense of just about all the conventional wisdom on reducing inequality. Better education won’t do much to reduce inequality if the big rewards simply go to those with the most assets....I think our eyes have been averted from the capital/labor dimension of inequality, for several reasons...But I think we’d better start paying attention to those implications.
Here's what I mean. It's quite possible that, say, 50 years from now the production of nearly all goods and services will be automated. And this might usher in a golden age...But what happens while we're busy getting there? Answer: the owners of capital will automate more and more, putting more and more people out of work...The rest of us will have no jobs, and even with all this lovely automation, our government-supplied welfare checks will be meager enough that our lives will be miserable.
And 60 minutes. And so does the Financial Time’s Izabella Kaminska, who’s been writing a series of posts on the influential FT Alphaville blog for more than nine months on the influence of robots on the economy and whether or not an economy can handle no scarcity. FT Alphaville requires registration, but fortunately Kaminska has collected links from across the world of economics and journalism as people attempt to hammer out this problem.