2021 : Current state of robots at work.
- Robot Noodle makers in China
- That humans can be replaced by robots that do the job faster and cheaper is an idea that now pervades Chinese employers. “Chinese companies usually start considering robots when the payment for a skilled worker exceeds 50,000 yuan ($8,060) a year,”
- Robot shelves : http://www.botjunkie.com/2009/09/04/video-kiva-systems-makes-working-with-robots-serene-while-filling-orders-4x-faster/
- Robotic Nation : (http://www.springwise.com/newbusinessideas/2003/05/bigtec.html) http://marshallbrain.com/robotic-nation.htm (http://www.springwise.com/newbusinessideas/2003/05/bigtec.html)
- Robots in 2015 : http://www.marshallbrain.com/robots-in-2015.htm
- Robotic Freedom : http://www.marshallbrain.com/robotic-freedom.htm
- Springwise on giant vending machines : http://www.springwise.com/newbusinessideas/2003/03/247convenience.html
- Inserting hair-plugs! - http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/15/technology/15PATE.html?8hpib
- Andy Oram on rising productivity : http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/3812
- JohnRobb says : It also shows that computers are starting to automate the service industry (up until 2 years ago, productivity improvements were limited to a small subset of manufacturing and technology sectors) (http://jrobb.mindplex.org/2003/11/07.html))
- Update 2014 : See what he says on the TurkingEconomy
- More OnRobots
Of course, it depends on the continued availability of cheap energy. (See EndOfCheapOil)
Just read the RoboticNation stuff - wow!! Not only does this scenario vastly over-estimate how close we are to creating robots that could replace human manaul labour (cleaning a house properly from top to bottom is a rediculously complex task that wont be automated for a LONG time). Then the author goes on to re-invent a kind of social welfare system while desparately trying to argue that a government and general taxation are not necessary.
On the one hand he want to eliminate all that wasted money spent on 'poverty' and said something like 'who wants to live on hand-outs from the government' - and then goes on to say that everyone should get paid a hand-out from a central 'fund' so that we don't have to work !! Beautiful .. almost comic !
Ah ... but how exactly does this differ from your picture of "technology" solving society's problems of inequality and poverty? (Ironically put but a serious question.)
I also am quite dubious of his argument that robots will be able to take our jobs really quickly. His argument using Moore's law is simplistic, ArtificialIntelligence is not a question of computing power, and with computers a hundred times faster than today's, we won't be much more advanced in many domains.
However advances in a lot of other domains make his argument plausible. Even if we don't have Artificial Intelligence, robots may still be able to do quite a bit. Not exactly like humans do, the nature of the job will probably change (Planes fly, cars take us places. Not the way birds or horses would, but still.), but it may well result in the same thing.
As far as I know the "robots will take all our jobs" scare has been going on for at least fifty years ... (Note that this doesn't mean that they aren't / won't be taking our jobs :)
I still find RoboticNation very interesting. Haven't read everything yet, but that kind of future is certainly worth considering !
Not that I believe the timeline for the humanoid robots, but the computer-controlled-humans timeline is well underway. See http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/07/19/rfid_gmb/.
Quora Answer : Will a rise in automated unskilled labor cause a drop in the population?
Firstly, get one thing straight.
Automation does not replace "unskilled" labour. What automation replaces is "repetitive" labour.
Any job, however skilled, that is sufficiently repetitive (ie. you do the same thing, again and again) is a candidate for replacing with automation and AI.
It now just depends on the relative cost of the human salary vs. the cost of the machine.
Before factories could mass produce various everyday artefacts, it took skilled craftsmen and women to carve, weave, hammer, shape them by hand. Then machines could just take over and replace skilled people with button pushers.
The same can happen to any repetitive job, however skilled it is to do it.
Now to your question.
What causes population drop, apart from wars, pandemics and environmental crises leading to famine, is humans choosing to have fewer children.
That's tended to be correlated with material comfort. The more comfortable your life is, the more choices women have in life, the less you are worried what will happen to you in retirement because you have a guaranteed pension, the less you will be concerned to have children to look after you in your old age. And the more you'll prefer to spend your resources on your life, rather than on the next generation.
Whether mass automation will diminish population therefore depends on whether it makes people more comfortable. And that depends on how the spoils of automation are distributed. If everyone gets a good share, they'll be comfortable and have fewer children. If the spoils all go to a few super-rich, many people will be living in hardship and still have children to help look after them.
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