Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Robotic Nation

There is an article by the creator the website 'How Stuff Works' named 'Robotic Nation.' It discusses the interesting implications of an increased use of robotics, mainly in the workplace. In summary the idea goes like this:

As time progresses more and more robots will be used. Skilled labor jobs, low wage jobs and assembly line jobs will be among the first to go. Specifically, one could imagine robots replacing the jobs of many low wage workers. As computer AI and user interface is improved it is likely that fast food restaurants and many other 'simple' jobs could easily be replaced.

The question then is: Are other jobs going to be created to replace the jobs lost to robots? The answer is likely no. It takes very few people to make and repair the robots compared to the jobs they will displace. And remember, robots will be building the robots.

What do these people do then? That is the interesting part. Will this cause a large lower class? Those who are unable to do more complicated technical tasks are not going to have anything to fall back on.

Brain Marshall proposes a welfare system of sorts. That everyone will get some kind of grant ($25,000 in fact) to supplement their living. His concern is that with money flowing into the corporations via the consumer, with little money leaving to the general population via salaries, the economy would be starved for money to be spent on products and we would become less efficient. (Where does this money come from - More Taxes - Ick.)

Now, I would suggest that you read the articles yourself and form your own opinion. It is an interesting thing to think about. My personal thought is that a welfare ideology is crap. That it is bound to fail. We need to teach people to be self reliant. Instead, allow a free market to determine its fate. It is likely it will pick what is best for itself (which typically means that it is better for the economy as well.) If you can't get a job as a minimum wage slacker, well then, tough. I would imagine that forcing society to be highly educated is probably going to do more good than bad. In lieu of this 'impending disaster' which only places more reliance on education, we could use our money to, ah... educate ourselves and our children.

If the future is going to demand education, then so be it.

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