Imagine what kind of high unemployment can happen with this technology: http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/12/tech/h...ter/index.html
The problem I see is that scarcity is increasing faster than efficiency in today's world.
If you have a 60MPG car but fuel costs $10PG, you're definitely worse off.
So while it is true that in the end that efficiency gains are good for everyone, it doesn't mean that every generation is going to be better off than the next.
Like when you sell your grandfathers farm to a real estate developer because the economy is kicking ass, only to find out 5 years later that your job accounting for some real estate developer is obsolete thanks to computer automation. Then after the money from the farm sell off runs out you lose your house and move into public housing and you have to shine shoes or some crap and your kids hate you because you can't renew their xbox live scrip and... um, yeah. Shit doesn't always work out is what I'm trying to say.
if modern agriculture continues to follow the path it's on now, it's finished. The food-growing situation may seem to be in good shape today, but that's just an illusion based on the current availability of petroleum fuels. All the wheat, corn, and other crops that are produced on big American farms may be alive and growing, but they're not products of real nature or real agriculture. They're manufactured rather than grown. The earth isn't producing those things.. petroleum is! -Masanobu Fukuoka
The role of an economy is not to produce jobs, it is to meet the wants and needs of the consumer. If the means of production are so cheap and so effortless that robots and replicators can satisfy all human needs, humans will be free to explore all of their wants, on their own time.
If robots are producing everything and people no longer needed, what are the "freed" people doing to earn income to spend on the goods? Lots of free time but no money?
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The concept of a society with no trade or money is called a gift economy (see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_economy), it has existed without automation/robotics, and exists even today in some places. My understanding is that there are some sociological forces that have placed limitations on the feasibility of it, such as that they generally consist of about 150 people or less.
Last edited by Neil Desmond; 10-23-2012 at 03:12 PM.
Note the words in bold (emphasis mine):
Robots are producing everything (we'll pretend for now that people are not required for robot maintenance, and that robots are doing even that)
Ergo, no need for income to spend on what the robots are, in theory, already creating
Also, things that are created by robots are a form of 'income', whether or not they have value in exchange with other forms of income created by other robots (i.e., everybody has their own, of all types and kind). That would never be the case, as robots are always specialized (e.g., a wrench-making robot isn't going to double as a rutabaga-harvester). Thus, there would always be a division of labor among robots, even with the most efficient automation imaginable. So even if your robots are creating one type of thing, and my robots are creating another entirely, we can still trade our respective 'incomes' in exchange.
In reality, there is no dispensing with the need for other humans, or even physical labor by humans, with or without enhancements and automation. And there are also many things that robots cannot do (to everyone's satisfaction, at least): They cannot write literature, produce movies, make original music, or architectural designs, or other forms of art that is pleasing to millions of different niches of humans. They can certainly serve as aids in all these things, but the human input is always required. Likewise, they can aid in scientific breakthroughs, but are limited in artificial imagination and cannot make them. The more we are freed, on the whole, by efficiency and automation, the more people's minds are freed to use their imaginations on an evolved hierarchy of human wants and needs.
Here's a video that I think nicely addresses how the potential problem of high unemployment as a result of technology might be dealt with:
UN Agenda 21 Explained
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