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Old 01-10-2012, 01:41 AM
Senegoid is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Sunny California
Posts: 14,843
I believe that great proponent of robotics Isaac Asimov thought a lot about these questions.

Many years ago I read an essay either by Asimov or by someone else who was discussing Asimov's ideas on this. (Sorry, no cite, this was many years ago.) Asimov's idea was that robots would take over most of mankind's productive work, creating a mass leisure society. He envisioned that there would only a minimal amount of work requiring human hands. This would be done by a very small work force, perhaps working only a small number of hours a week. Pretty much everybody else would live lives of total leisure.

That small workforce of very-part-time workers, plus all the robots, would produce all the goods (and services?) that everyone might need.

I don't recall anything said about how we would make the transition to such an economic model. But it might be plausible if it happened gradually, as the above description seems to imply. As robots become increasingly commonplace and productive, more and more people would work fewer and fewer hours (or not at all), but there would be enough goods produced to maintain everybody. As long as the robots and minimal work force kept the supply of goods adequate for everybody, prices would stay in line with what people could pay. A massively welfare-economy would evolve to provide for those who don't work at all. This is the part that I think would be difficult to achieve. I think creating a massively welfare-based economy would be very difficult -- or at least, it would require a major paradigm shift from the capitalist economy we have now.