I wrote a blog post in July that explains why eventually the robot workforce will completely remove humans from the production loop. Once humans are no longer required to either design or build the machines that othttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifher humans use to build and farm the world around us, the costs of production will virtually collapse. Marshall paints a gloomy scenario of a future with rising numbers of unemployed humans that suddenly appear due to specific automation events, for the most part he is correct. The events have been happening, the last great one occurred after the dot com bomb of the early aughts and led to implementation of productivity technologies (like factory floor robots for placing, picking and packing products for delivery to humans and RFID technology for eliminating unit losses)that eliminated many thousands of jobs inside factories. The trend only is on the rise as indicated in the links provided in my last article. We are currently undergoing our second massive productivity consolidation world wide as corporations look for ways to make more with less across sectors. The forecast for the next few years regarding manufacturing and service jobs is gloomy and people must adapt if they are to maintain their standards of living on that point we agree. However, he seems to think that the use of robots (in particular the autonomous kind that will see construction for sale to people around 2030 as he predicts) will only have a negative effect on humans ability to survive but he's leaving out the other side of the equation.
If I own robots I essentially own my own workforce, if they are as adept as a human I can have them perform the daily tasks that I would otherwise either have to do myself OR pay some one else to do. Thus a way for humans to gain the benefits of productivity that the robots will be providing to the manufacturing and service industries from which we gain service is to also buy robots and have them at our side to enable us to maintain the standards of living we are used to. If as Marshall indicates that robots will become increasingly intelligent then when that happens we will be able to use their intelligence as proxy for the tasks we may need done. We could conceivably rent out our robots to those that can't afford them and derive profit from the act. The point is, having robots is not going to be the good fortune of businesses...people will be free to purchase them as well. As you might have seen in the movie "I Robot" the robots were completely integrated into society performing the mundane tasks that humans do today, mean while humans free of the burden of needing to be as physical do other things. In this way autonomous human like robots will be the same as a virtual slave work force. There is a reason slave owners keep slaves, slaves are highly efficient from a cost perspective...disproportionate work for pay (basic food, shelter) can be extracted from them. In the past, slave work forces were used to build massive human structures, many of the ancient wonders were done using slave labor and might not have been possible any other way. The riches of the rulers that used slave labor were then available to fund wars to gain more slaves and build more wonders. If personal robots reduce our costs of living then we all can be as those ancient rulers accept we'd be lording over (hopefully) non self aware simulations of humanity that we can task to the labors we would otherwise be forced to engage.
Thus, I see more unemployment to come in the short term (next 20 years) as automation accelerates and make no mistake it is accelerating...all of the work I have been doing on the AgilEntity platform has been designed to usher in the next form of this automation, but once fully autonomous robots can be put to roles for humans as slaves were in the past(and unfortunately present in many parts of the world as it has actually risen world wide)...humans can use those robots as a currency to maintain their standards of living even as robots continue to replace the remaining roles that are the last domain of human involvement in the production cycle. So from the perspective of individual humans the costs of living will actually go down over time as the robots begin to be used as personal workforces by people all over. This will then mean that the standard of living can be maintained near levels that most desire depending on how they are using their robot work forces. There will be impulsive shifts but eventually as the self healing infrastructure is constructed and humans pinch off the production circle entirely, costs for services and products will zero out completely and the word "unemployment" will not be a expletive but a fact of all human beings.