What happens when jobs run out?


Robotics and AI (artificial intelligence) will replace service and manufacturing jobs at an ever increasing rate as technology advances.

In just four years…

A net loss of 5.1 million jobs is predicted by 2020 as a result of developments in genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics and other technological change, according to World Economic Forum research. (Announced at Davos Forum, 18 Jan 2016)


Experts predict robots will take over 30% of our (i.e. American] jobs by 2025” (Kathleen Elkins, http://www.businessinsider.com, May 1, 2015)

Robotics has already cut into manufacturing and agricultural jobs – especially factory jobs (automobile, etc.).

Service jobs are not immune:

Amazon has already deployed 10,000 robot workers, and Google and Foxconn are working on displacing factory workers with robots (David Cardinal, http://www.extremetech.com, May 30, 2014)

Drones could potetially replace various delivery services.

Domestic services (cleaning, washing) are ideal for robots, as well as…

Food and hotel services

Telephone customer assistants

With the development of self-driving cars, how about…

  • Street cleaning?
  • Garbage collection?
  • Taxis and other transport means?

Robots even offer financial services the benefits of accuracy and incorruptibility (they won’t steal!).

Can this be prevented?

Well, for all its current benefits (to many, if not all), free market capitalism – by its very nature – is fundamentally geared to profit maximization.

Robotics and AI promise exactly that.

And this all could well spell the end of the capitalist free market system!

By maximizing profits, regardless of human costs, corporate leaders could – no, probably will – face masses of unemployed who, no matter their education or ability, have no chance of earning an income.

Certainly some jobs will remain – certain exclusively human skills and mental capabilities will always be in demand. But what of the rest?

This may all seem rather extreme now, especially when you think of most of the world and its currently available cheap labor. Yet some day, even factory “sweat shop” owners in Asia consider the economics of robot garment workers?

Although many of us may not live long enough to experience the real impact, the day of massive (to understate the scope) world unemployment is inevitable.

So what needs to happen in order to avoid worldwide underemployment, or even: revolution or world war?

Two ways out suggest themselves:

  1. Space exploration and colonization
  2. A new world economic order

Or both!

Both would require a vast amount of cost and risk.

A new world economic order would be the subject of controversial debate (on what principles to base this new economy?) as well as – initially – a large amount of resistance from those who would feel they have something to lose.

And in the case of space, the required technology development would need to be funded (expensive!). And in order to have any significant impact on situation on Earth, we would be talking of potentially billions of people!

Population growth is a factor that cannot be ignored.

In 2016 the world’s population is estimated at 7.4 billion people.

According to an UN report from 1 June 2013, the world’s population will reach 9.6 billion by the year 2050.

Some predictions go as high as 11 billion!

Most of the population growth will occur in less developed areas where the supply of food and energy is most at risk, poverty is endemic and the jobs generated are manual jobs (potentially easy prey for robots!)

The purpose of this blog is to work out – with your help:

A new global economy

and/ or

A new, high-priority approach to space exploration

Or both?

A Star Trek Post-Scarcity Economy?

I hope that we can gather ideas and debate aspects of this issue.

However, this is NOT a platform for acrimonious political debate.

If you do not agree with the premises and scenarios present here, practical criticism is welcome, but confrontation and adversarial exchanges are not.


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