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Old 01-09-2012, 07:16 AM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,120
Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
Heh. That's funny.

Look back a couple of hundred years ago, and folks were saying exactly the same thing. As soon as technology progressed, we wouldn't have people toiling on farms and slaving away in factories. Utopia was right around the corner.

We have huge machines automating much of our farm work and robots fill many factories, and Utopia isn't anywhere in sight. It's not technology that's holding us back at this point.

There needs to be some sort of drastic social change for anything like the above to happen.
But doesn't there have to be drastic social change of some kind when robots can tend a farm automatically, build a house with no human carpenters, and manufacture anything (including more robots) in a factory with little to no human oversight?

The people who predicted there would be a drastic lessening of need for farm labour were right: today's agriculture requires only a tiny, tiny fraction of the labour it once did, which is why farm country has mostly emptied out over the past century. So that in itself did cause a big social change. But there was still plenty of work that needed doing in the cities, plus a certain amount of rural work driving (and loading) trucks, maintaining infrastructure, etc. It's easy to imagine those tasks and pretty much all other manual labour being taken over by robots within a century; at that point it will be possible to maintain human's needs in a pretty comfortable way without any human effort.

Now as I say I can totally see there still being rich people who come up with the latest equivalent of the iPhone, or the new hit song, etc. And there will be things that are still scarce for rich people to buy--land, for instance. But for the average schmoe, what jobs would be available to them, and why should they be expected to work?

I suppose it could simply be that there will be very few jobs available (and very high qualifications for them) but that those who have them will be paid extremely handsomely, will pay a lot in taxes, and there will be most everywhere a generous social safety net of the contemporary European variety.