3
$\begingroup$

I'm new in Worldbuilding and I guess something like this might already be asked, but I would like to know what are pros and cons of robots replacing human in most repetitive jobs (with no high decision making required). And I'm talking about robotics that wouldn't have high-end AI. Wouldn't it let people to focus more on science and speed up our intellectual evolution?

EDIT:

I know replacing process is already slowly happening, but many would consider it to be something bad. So I'm talking about almost forcing the integration of robots to speed up our society in development.

EDIT2: To those who are marking it as duplicate to scenarios where AI overcomes human - I even mentioned from beginning the we do not let AI to do anything important and we are not giving brain to machines.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Machines have been replacing humans in repetitive jobs for a very long time. You may be surprised to learn that cars are welded and painted by robots, glass bottles are made by machines, and fabrics are woven by automated looms. Fabrics have been woven by automated looms for more than two centuries... The original luddites rioted against automated weaving machinery at the beginning of the 19th century. $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 25 '17 at 8:14
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ also related worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/51423/809 and worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/16807/809 - all three are narrower than yours so it's hard to tell. This question is on the verge of being high concept. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 25 '17 at 11:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For those who vote duplicate - question which is selected to be a duplicate is closed and answer to it can't be added, so or you vote the question to close for different reason or you find another duplicate which is open to add answers. At the moment there is no good reason to vote as duplicate. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg May 25 '17 at 12:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg should we directly vote "too broad"? You think there would be a difference? At the moment these two looks like duplicates and if that's the will of the community, they should be properly marked as such in case one of them gets reopened. $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 25 '17 at 13:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mołot if you choose so then yes. However 3(with me) 3000+ people think this formulation of the question is worthy to answer(they provided answers). I write a long answer to it, at the angle of view I haven't seen. Will be sad if it will be closed :). However, again, yes, but not a broad answer can be given. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg May 25 '17 at 15:15
10
$\begingroup$

Wouldn't it let people to focus more on science and speed up our intellectual evolution?

I don't think so. Sure it lets people focus on science and intellectual pursuits...but it doesn't necessarily mean that is what people will do. It would be nice to think so but where sci-fi paints this picture of futuristic children doing quantum mechanics at school and everyone having these high tech gadgets they can build and fix themselves...the reality seems to be remarkably different. People tend to spend their free time with more recreational activities. Watching films, playing games and so on. The vast majority of us don't know how our phones work and where once calculus was taught at schools it is barely touched upon now. Education seems to be dumbing down, expectations lowering...and few people taking up scientific pursuits as recreation.

I'm afraid an increase in luxury will only increase laziness. If you aren't pushed you don't try.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Excellent point. While some of us know how computers and electronics works and certainly more of us than there were when computers and electronics first came to be, the majority don't care. However, it's also true that most of us would not be able to live in the wild with just the clothes on our backs for more than a year. We've long passed the age when technology is just useful. It's now a crutch. $\endgroup$ – Neil May 25 '17 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Neil We passed there as soon as we stopped being just dumb apes and became Homo Sapiens. We're not physically better, we're smarter, and can use whatever tools and methods we have available to make sure we keep living. The grandchildren of the first humans to build farms would also probably have died in the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on their backs. $\endgroup$ – SGR May 25 '17 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ Can you evidence for the idea that education is "dumbing down"? In high school, I learned about DNA, relativity, modern chemistry, and other topics that weren't even well-defined 100 years ago. Learning how your phone works requires intimate knowledge of several complex subjects. The fact that most of us don't know how they work does not suggest to me that education is being dumbed down, but rather that that the science is getting more complicated. The automation revolution has been underway for a long time now - are you suggesting people of 2017 are lazier than our counterparts of 1917? $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang May 25 '17 at 14:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang Sure, it seems like we might get taught more because we learn things they didn't know back then (though I was never taught about relativity in school (up to 16 when I was there) but you need to compare what they did know and is still useful. Calculus, for example, my school never touched on but my grandfather was taught from the age of 12. Perhaps my school was dumbed down or your school was particularly bright, all I'm saying is that, from my experience, it seems dumbed down. $\endgroup$ – FreeElk May 26 '17 at 8:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang As far as laziness goes my feelings are this: we now have more free time and a whole industry around entertaining ourselves during that free time. Where before someone may have entertained themselves actively by tinkering with something, talking with people, reading and such (not necessarily more intelligent pursuits) but now we can spend hours watching TV, films (both very passive) or playing video games (can be repetitive and not teach much). I'm not saying one is intrinsically better or that some people don't still tinker, just that there has been a net increase in passivity. $\endgroup$ – FreeElk May 26 '17 at 8:25
6
$\begingroup$

The replacing process isn't happening slowly at all. This is probably one of the fastest adaption of technology out there.

And I'm talking about robotics that wouldn't have high-end AI. Wouldn't it let people to focus more on science and speed up our intellectual evolution?

No, not really anyway. Why? Because the people who's jobs are being replaced are tend to be on the lower end of the scale when it comes to intellect and education. Not everyone can get a university degree, even if you make sure there only university level positions.

The things that will be replaced are the simple jobs. Driving a vehicle, keeping a garden, writing reports and summaries, cleaning a hallway. What could happen is the people that are now unemployed are guided to more service jobs. Helping in nursing homes etc. But those jobs tend to cost money and not make money. Not something that will happen with the current western culture.

I'm of the position that automation of daily life will happen, rather quickly even. It's simple economics. A robotic car can drive day and night, never tire and drives in the way that uses the least amount of gas. Sure the initial investment is big but you'll make it back tenfold.

Basic income

So people will need some form of basic income because there won't be enough 'simple' jobs out there. There's no money to put all those people in service jobs either. Now the idea behind a basic income is that people will augment that income with other things.

Perhaps they'll start artisan woodwork. You won't win on efficiency but there Always people who pay for artisan craftsmanship. Maybe you try writing novels, set up home restaurants (cooking for people in their home with guests). Those things rarely pay all the bills but if it's only to augment your income. Of course others say people will simply leech of the limited income and either whine or steal more. I can't predict the future.

Pro and con

  • So what are the pros and cons? We'll likely get more service workers. There simply no other jobs for them.
  • Transportation of goods becomes cheaper. Optimized robotic vehicles will cause this.
  • Work might become a privilage.
  • Daily life will mostly remain the same.
    '
  • The lower classes will lose many jobs and chances at upwards mobility.
  • More intelligent people will have access to good jobs for longer. This can greatly increase the wealth divide between upper and lower class.
  • As more people lose jobs to robots tax income might lower while the demand on basic income and the like increase.
  • Lack of work ethic under large portion of the population slows down intellectual excellence and other requirements for people to aspire more then their parents. Potential scientists and the like fail to apply for a degree.

So with that last point I'd argue it might even slow down our development. Because if nobody in your family has a job, why invest time in getting a degree? Life without work is fine, it's all you known. Excellence tends to be driven by some form of hardship.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Its just the way we think of low scale jobs, but seriously if driving is a low scale job, then Michael Schumacher means nothing to do the world. How about keeping 1000 gardens safe and sound every day? Algorithm for cleaning a spiral shaped hallway?? Maybe we need robots that could wash newborn feces, and let mommy plan on bringing a new one :) because automation is making our life easier? $\endgroup$ – ShayHaned May 25 '17 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ Honestly in the grand scheme of things Schumacher means nothing. What will he have contributed to the world in two centuries except burn fossil fuel? I'm not saying these jobs have no value, quite the opposite. I have great respect for craftsmen. But they're not intellectually challenging and can be done with a robot. If they can drive cars, they can clean floors and cut grass, identify pests on plants etc. $\endgroup$ – Mormacil May 25 '17 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ What will he have contributed to the world in two centuries except burn fossil fuel? Don't you think you would have done the same if you were to train a baby robot on how to drive a formula car? And you would love the temptation upon meeting a bunch of investors? Maybe in the grand scheme of things, Schumacher really means nothing, but don't you think that the baby robot would atleast like to compete against or learn from Schumacher, how to perfectly take each and every turn at 560km/h, you would not just risk fossil foil, but a lot of formula cars too, in my humble opinion $\endgroup$ – ShayHaned May 25 '17 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ As far as routine transportation driving, the primary win of a robotic car is it doesn't get into accidents. That is a "driving force" pun intended. We have an agency, NHTSA, who crazily mandates anything that will move the statistic needle a shave, damn the consequences. Like mandating babies travel in the back seat ... people forgetting babies because they're not visible. (doesn't count as a transport accident). That agency will not hestitate to kick plain cars off the Federally funded freeways, then roads altogether as insurance on your Red Barchetta becomes prohibitive. $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 25 '17 at 17:46
2
$\begingroup$

Let me tell you a story about a robot that replaced human in the most mundane work in the factory: labelling.
So the robot was installed on the conveyor belt and it detected with a movement sensor and infrared beam an object. Then it dispensed the label from a roll and pushed them together. But the conveyor belt was made from rolls in part and rubber belt in other parts. So the object sometimes slowed for a fraction of a second and the label was a half of mm off. So that changed weight distribution that resulted in fraction of a second delay in the object leaving thus also slowing down the belt and object behind it. So the label on this object was off one millimetre.

30 or 40 items later the robot was dispensing labels onto itself blocking object from going into him and making them pile up and fall down.

The outcome? Now there was two people needed to operate the robot. One to observe the labelling process and stop the WHOLE machine before items fall to the floor. And then the technician that was needed to shut off the robot, open it's pit, remove the labels and then restart the whole process.

Those are two people that didn't had more time for science.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ But the robot does the work a hundred times faster and will work all night and day without breaks. So maybe it takes a couple of people to watch it but it will still free up more people (or make them lose their jobs...however you want to see it). $\endgroup$ – Lio Elbammalf May 25 '17 at 12:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Sounds like you need a better robot, that one is rubbish $\endgroup$ – Separatrix May 25 '17 at 13:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ amusing, but it does make an excellent point. At some point, there needs to be human interaction. $\endgroup$ – Richard U May 25 '17 at 14:09
2
$\begingroup$

There will be upheaval and refocusing.

in the past 150 years, agrarian jobs have dwindled to as low as 5% their previous numbers, the industry of horse farming, training and all the industries that supported it has all but vanished, switchboard operators have all but vanished entirely.

We can look at what the industrial revolution has done to get a good guess at what the robotics/AI revolution will do in the future.

The negatives:

  • Displacement and realignment: Old jobs will either be eliminated entirely or require a new skill set. EXAMPLE Construction jobs require significantly less strength, stamina and numbers since the advent of heavy equipment. Fewer workers doing more with different skills. (using a back-hoe instead of a shovel, for example.
  • Elimination/obsolescence of some jobs. Machinists, who were prized last century for their skills and precision have all but been replaced by robots.
  • Down-skilling of some jobs: Some jobs may not be eliminated entirely, but with robots and automation doing many of the more difficult tasks, the remaining tasks could be done by far less skilled and/or specialized people in the past.

**

The positives:

**

  • New Jobs As with the advent of the automobile and the electronic computer, positions will be created to support the new technology. While the buggy-whip manufacturer was eliminated, all manner of support industries were created for the automobile from the service station to any variety of after-market items such as rims and sound systems. With Robotics advancing, all sorts of support industries would be created to support the robotics infrastructure from customizing routines and methodologies to psychiatrists for AIs. This is hard to guess, but the door is wide open.
  • UP-Skilling of jobs: Mechanics, for example, these days need to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of computers, with high-level mechanics, such as aircraft mechanics needing to understand servers and Wi-Fi technology as well. Some currently low-paying jobs will find the skillset and pay actually rise
  • More leisure. The 40 hour work week was almost unheard of 100 years ago. In a robotic future, full-time may be 20 hours or less a week.
  • Extremely specialized occupations Within recent decades we've seen such occupations as "Life coach", Pet Psychiatrist, and Pet Massage therapist come into being. The medical industry has become specialized in cancer treatments where there are entire disciplines dedicated to a specific form of cancer, I.E. Breast Cancer, prostate cancer, et cetera. Look to more of these as robots replace the menial jobs.

GENERAL SOCIETAL/OCCUPATIONAL CHANGES

  • Extreme personalization With robotics likely advancing past the limitations of an assembly line (3-D printers) they will likely be able to produce nearly anything on demand. You want star-shaped glasses that can access the internet and play music, in two-toned chartreuse and mauve, NO PROBLEM.
  • Early adopters of robotic services will be the wealthy.
  • Occupations will likely be far more service oriented to give that "human touch" to services that robots CAN provide, but people would want actual humans to perform. Think of automated systems as opposed to having a customer service rep to speak to. This will likely be reserved for the wealthy after a fashion. When anyone can have a robot cook for them, then it will be a sign of status to have a human do it.
  • Extreme violence. The old saying "Idle hands are the Devil's workshop" will prove true. If there is a minimum basic income provided in this society, doubly so. People will find a way to occupy their time.
  • Shrinking or extinct middle class and concentration of wealth. The owners of the robots will make money, those who do not will scrape by, this may or may not be a temporary condition.
  • Depopulation especially if there is a shift to a more leisure based society. Raising children is work. If we become more work-averse, this will follow.
  • Higher suicide rates We see this now. Suicide is a first-world problem, with less and less for us to do, we'll likely start to hate our own existence.
$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The problem is when a robot replaces a human, the economic wealth is still created. If that went to the displaced human, that'd be great - one could think of as the human owning the robot who works for him. But none does - it goes to the already-rich large corporation and the human is marginalized. This will soon create an untenable situation that can only be corrected by a redistribution of wealth, and the wealthy hate those. The displaced are not powerless, they can still vote and shoot, and Brexit/Trump is only the tip of that iceberg. $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 25 '17 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Harper things realign. The factory displaced the cottage industry and the factory is now being displaced by the 3-D printers, which are becoming a cottage industry. $\endgroup$ – Richard U May 25 '17 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ We'll see. I have yet to use anything 3-D printed, and I'm a member of a maker-space. $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 25 '17 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Harper It's pretty amazing. The 3-Ds are starting to kick out custom prosthetics, and the larger ones, housing kits. $\endgroup$ – Richard U May 25 '17 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ true, I once wrote an answer here with robots building housing tracts in massive scale, using the eventual commuter railroad to bring in the materiél. I didn't think in terms of 3D printing but that would work too, print the conduits, maybe re-rod, concrete forms and insulation then the robot brings over a concrete mixer for the pour proper. $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 25 '17 at 18:24
2
$\begingroup$

A few days ago I stumbled on another interesting factor which may be useful if people are replaced in simple production jobs.

However, one thing to mention - not all people and even not "most of them" who have taken such jobs are below average, intellectually or else. It's irrelevant to my answer, but I feel the need to mention that.

A lengthy introduction, but eventually I will get to the point of the automation, TL;DR - yes it is super handy and everyone will be busy as bees, without the need to relearn quantum chemistry to be useful for the society, but it might require some changes where to live. I personally would be happy with those changes, some people might be not so excited.

Old times to the present

Since 1.5 million years ago, when people might start to use fire, we did a significant journey.

Most of the time of human history, things we do, amount of work, was directly related to a number of humans we had. They developed tools which improved the amount of work they can do, then domestication of animals happened which was a big improvement. Domesticated animals are equivalent of biological natural intelligence and it was the first thing which significantly multiplied our capabilities, first thing which weakens the link of human as limiting factor in terms of the amount of work which can be done.

Then happened industrial revolution, using steam to amplify our strength even more, and weakening "the human is limiting factor for the amount of work which can be done" even more.

Compared to 300-400 years ago, when most of the humans were in growing food industry, to current days when the participation is about 3% (it differs and the world average is about 27%, which surprised me but will stick with 3%. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.AGR.EMPL.ZS). So roughly speaking productivity, in some types of actions was improved about 2 orders of magnitude.

However those "free" human resources, aren't free, and they were used to develop other things we have and use now.

Those things are familiar to many, and it is an introduction, not the point of the answer.

We are not so cool, as we might think.

Despite all out progress, since domesticating the fire, we are not so cool today, because we have not enough energy.

Have difficulties to correctly wrap the idea in words, but we do not have an excess of energy. We have enough for our living, but we do not have a significant excess of easily available energy, which we use to do the work for us.

Most rivers we could use to extract energy are already used, and it turned out to be the cheapest source, but not so super for ecology.
Solar in most cases steals potential places for food production, and aren't cheap.
Biofuel also steals food production land.
Windmills installation - aren't cheap, not so reliable (because of wind), not so comfy to live nearby those wind installations when there many of them, they take land too.
Oil and coal and gas - limited resources and there are different ecological disadvantages to extract them, to use them, etc.
Nuclear aren't cheap, is complex and unpleasant if fails, pricey to develop better reactors(molten salt) etc.

All our energy options are compromises and none of them exceeds our expectation in energy production, none of them gives us so much that we do not know what to do with the energy. We need more and we have not enough. Different blackouts are good examples that our demands sometimes exceed our capabilities to produce the energy. We have barely enough energy to do the job, to satisfy our needs.

Light in the tunnel

What does it mean to completely replace humans in production jobs? It means removing the human as the limitation factor for the scale of production. It does not change much in the current situation because energy and matter were limiting factors before and they will be now and as we do not have an excess of energy it will not change our capabilities to produce things and as we do not have cheap options to increase energy production it again does not change price of the goods to supercheap etc.

So basically, there are not many advantages in doing so right now.

However, for the last 60 years, we slowly moving towards the space. And potentially the moving might end our struggle with energy for a lo-o-ong time.

Space is a long story and a lot of factors which should be considered, which I won't do in the answer, keep that in mind while reading.

Annual energy consumption in the world is about 150'000 TWh.

  • Moon gets 753 times more from Sun
  • Earth as a planet gets 10100 times more
  • Sun produces 2.2192×10¹³ times more

Those numbers just a scale of the amount we currently use to what is potentially available.

ITS launch vehicle with expected development cost of \$10 billion and planned payloads 300-550 tons and expected price of delivery 140'000 per ton of payload opens interesting perspectives in terms of expansion in the solar system. (including escaping the planet for \$14000 :D)

One of the interesting aspects of space is that energy extraction in space might be one of the cheapest options available at the moment (when you are in space of course)

And can be done for a price of at least of about 1GJ per kW of production, which is equivalent on earth to about \$27 per kW. For comparison

  • building a nuclear plant costs about \$6000 and higher to $18000 per kW of production
  • solar panels cost about \$7000-9000 per kW power production
  • direct deployment from earth with ITS - \$1400-3000 (10-20 kg per kW of production; delivering solar panels is more efficient, put production them on earth is less efficient)

Absence of atmosphere, 0g or low gravity makes it easier to extract solar energy in a simple and low-tech manner - like this model for the moon installation enter image description here

source this and this

So when I say it might be equivalent to 1GJ or \$27 it is not just a number, but more or less based on designs and energies required to build those designs. It can be even cheaper than that, using other possible technologies, but it at least can be cheap like that.

Automation

The price of increasing of our energy budget is a combination of energy price, labor cost, resources extraction etc. With current prices the process is very slow, so even if you would like to make nuclear reactors or solar panels everywhere - the rate at which those are increasing barely enough to compensate the grow of our population.

Planning to build one power plant takes years, and it takes years to build one after the planning is done. I have another energy-related question and it has some links to prices of building different energy plants, The cost of switching to electric cars? if you are interested about sources, but fastest energy plant to build(2-3 years) are CCGT - combined cycle gas turbines, they use gas to generate energy. The rest is 5-10 years from planning to building.

A space energy extraction is different in that regard, a very different. The limiting factor will be resources, matter to build them, and if the matter is available then you can grow the energy production 10-30 times per year.(with that with that 1GJ per 1kW of production) - this estimation is pretty much conservative and probably it is possible to do better than that.

The difference is actually huge, it is HUGE. If you would like to dedicate all your labor and resources to grow the energy production on earth, using the top art of the technologies, you can't beat steam-like designs in space in terms of speed of increasing the energy you can operate.

Stop at the moment and think about it. Steam era tech in space vs top notch tech on earth. Steam era wins in every aspect - speed of growth, price per kW, the amount of available energy. Stop and think.

  • Also, you might watch the video of Isaac Arthur, Industrializing the Moon if you have a question where cheap matter can be extracted for building those space energy plants.

One of the aspects which might make the moon a cheap industrial base for humanity is teleoperating, without the presence of humans on the moon itself. And it does not seem like a super complex job and looks more like a game, to mine vaspen gas etc. Ability to remove a human from production process will play very well with such base, it is almost the requirements to do so.

Labor

Ability to vastly increase energy production and do it fast, and ability to remove humans from the production opens another niche of decision making. To monitor that potentially huge complex of production. Decision making on a level of a strategy game. No matter good we are or could be at managing those facilities of that automation production, but if the production complex would be 1000 times bigger than current as an example then even simple monitoring (watch for the red light) and simple decision-making process like this section has red light so it needs to be replaced if it is not an error of the monitoring system which has to be determined, will require some labor. If it is million times bigger than today? If it is billion times bigger than today? If it is trillion times bigger? I do not ask for the answer if it is 2.2192×10¹³ times bigger.

When the amount of the available energy can grow like 10-30 times per year and each year it is not a stretch to have million, trillion bigger production complexes in space compared to our current production lines and factories.

Conclusion

Considering not only the perspective of possible future automation but also other factors which we are planning to do in the near future, full automation of production is not a curse which raises different social and financial problem, but a blessing which supplements those future events we are expecting or doing at the moment. I mean access to space in the first place, but it might(or not) be thermonuclear energy sources as an example, but space is most important because it gives us the space to expand.

You should understand that even if we would be able to transfer energy from the space with an efficiency of 0.1% it can benefit people on Earth and can replace all current energy production (if it is less harmful to ecology). Because 1GW of production initially launched with the ITS, as an example could reach global earth energy production in about 3 years, and in another 2 years reach the capability to replace all that earth energy production even with 0.1% transfer efficiency.

The production allows making other projects which would make the Earth a better place - more food, regulated climate, etc. Really big projects which benefit all the human on earth, even if they do not leave the earth.

There are a lot of possible implications and incentive to do such projects.

So, as for the question of pros and cons - there are only pros in there. Because the possibility to use and the huge field of implication will require full involvement of all humans even with full production automation.

P.S.
Almost have forgotten about the part which excites me personally.

Moving from earth into space habitats.

Moving from Earth is energy expensive process and it requires a lot of energy, about 7GJ per human with a small backpack.

Having enormous production facilities and energy sources in space allows to build space habitats and move people for the earth into space and from space to the earth. It really opens the new era of our history. So welcome automation where is possible, we need it so much and the future where we need it is very very close.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Too much handwringing the energy sources. For instance we can cover 100% of our energy use by putting solar panels on land we've already paved. Here we have good ag-land (don't cover that) but also lots of rivers with old water-power-era dams (20-30 ft fall), and no run-of-river hydro on any of them. We're not even trying. In the southwest where you should put solar, there's endless desert to put it in. Pumped storage to store energy... we got this. $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 25 '17 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Harper I understand what you say, and there is a point in what you say and I could cover those too, they aren't something new to me. However, I believe you missing one important point or might be two. To make energy collecting device, to keep it working(repair, maintenance), you need energy. The amount of energy which is required to make the device and amount of energy it produces during its lifetime are important parameters of such device. The second and more important - premise of the answer is that we do not have energy-gold-rush sources now and not that we do not have some options. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg May 25 '17 at 19:45
1
$\begingroup$

The robots take over almost all of the menial repetitive jobs.

Society now has a bunch more people who get to do creative tasks that they wouldn't have been able to do because they were stuck doing menial labour for 8+ hours a day.

It also has a bunch of dumb shits with nothing to do except make trouble and more poverty stricken children.

One solution in modern literature is to make them work as gold farmers in MMORPGs for their daily wage, where using robots is explicitly against the rules.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ So, in your world, who are the people playing these MMORPGs? Are they the dumb ones or the creative geniuses? $\endgroup$ – Lio Elbammalf May 25 '17 at 12:18
  • $\begingroup$ In the book mentioned above, it's the idiots (or merely unlucky) and the rich (the ones using real money to buy the virtual gold). (Some of ) the creative geniuses are the ones making content for the MMO. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Davie May 26 '17 at 9:00
1
$\begingroup$

There's that old utopian thinking about robots making human free from menial services. The problem is, what do these freed people do instead?

  • They'll dedicate their lives to more intellectually fulfulling and "enlightened" works. So, assuming that a million blue-collar workers can retrain themselves as IT technicians or software analysts, you can expect the position of "software analyst" being the new "blue-collar work". If the number of applicants rise tenfold you can expect the average wages shrink tenfold. It already sorta happens where I live. We programmers are not very well paid - though, we are fortunate to have jobs in a high unemployement environment - and our job is not very much respected.
  • They won't be able to access jobs where they're more useful than a robot, and thus they'll become useless, an underclass doomed to scrounging and criminal activities.

Note that the second possibility cannot be ruled out even if an universal income is provided. If every man and woman has the same income, as in a communist country, then everyone is equally rich, which means everyone is poor since price of products tend to flow up to the ceiling of spending most people has. Inflation will render any quantity of universal income the bare minimum for subsistance, no matter how much money it is, as long as it is truly universal. So the only way to escape a life of living paycheck to paycheck would be working, and then you are in one of the two situations stated above.

$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.