Robotic Nation

Marshall Brain has put up an absolutely fascinating — and economically scary — piece titled Robotic Nation. After experiencing a self serve McDoanlds kiosk, he extrapolates that experience to its logical conclusion.

In Marshall’s view, (or at least one possible logical conclusion), the ultimate end result is a mass wave of displacement of Humans. He expects “we are about to see a seismic shift in the American workforce. As a nation, we have no way to understand or handle the level of unemployment that we will see in our economy over the next several decades. These kiosks and self-service systems are the beginning of the robotic revolution.”

In addition to the many other factors I’ve identified keeping job creation down — productivity enhancements, globalization, excess capacity left over from the popped bubble — you can now add replacement of workers by robotic/PCs to the mix.

Back on June 19th, I discussed the issue of how productivity paradoxically (“ New Productivity Paradox “) is working against job creation. Total human replacement could be the ultimate Productivity enhancer.

Marshall doesn’t really go into all the jobs the robot producing industry will create; They will obviously be greatly fewer in numbers but higher paying than the millions of low paying jobs they will be displacing.

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