You may be aware of the looming fuel crisis. You might even have considered the problem with domestic robots today
. But a little article by Marshall Brain (http://marshallbrain.com/robotic-nation.htm) linked on today's Slashdot has raised an old fear of mine: When everyone has plenty of leisure time because robots are doing all the jobs, how will we pay for our drinks?
Counterpoints to In defense of robot domination
(see also "atomic-powered killbots from planet x")
As in the Animatrix The Second Renaissance
, and Player Piano
, robot slaves, even if built for the purpose and unable to feel discontent with their role, have the same drawbacks as factory automation
- they affect the economy.
you don't have to work
you get all the food and things you want for free
you are free for artistic or intellectual or bacchian pursuits
this applies to everyone, or at least everyone you know, or at least yourself
the hope is that the robots do all the work
Capitalist society fundamentals
if you don't work, you don't get paid
if you don't have money, you can't buy food
or other goods
the harder you work, the more you earn
This is at odds with utopia. Only the owner of the robots would earn the money for the work they do.
Automation leads to unemployment, or at least lower wealth
robots perform menial jobs quickly and precisely, which could and probably used to be performed by humans
lower wages (slave wages) can counter lower cost of automated production
Even the factory owner is in competition with other automated factories and has to sell cheaper by cutting costs and making minimal profit
previous assets, wealth, patents, holdings
artistic work (actors, celebrities, designers) continue to have value, until robot intelligence and design algorithms can suffice
next generation of robot designers and robot support services
all this is still a minority of the populace
Classes (rich/poor) become sharply divided again? Room for the "middle class"?
real estate (cost varies with size, and proximity to nice things)
Goods can be produced more cheaply
Prices can drop
Reverse of inflation is deflation
Wages also drop - due to the competition problem
convergence of goods prices and labour wages to zero
restraining factor is maintenance cost and energy cost of competing robot
food production may be harder to make cheaper, as plant growing time is still a constant
communism might succeed this time
wealth can no longer come from taxes
government-owned robot factories supply populace with essentials for free (like welfare or food stamps)
government makes money by exporting robot-produced goods (if necessary), keeps economy strong
side-effect: government has large robot army to keep unemployed populace in line
What do you do all day in Utopia?
contribute to issues in online socialist government forum
design or perform
add value to the system in some way.
Value could replace money. Respect becomes currency
Value is tracked electronically like Amazon.com rating stars. See Cory Doctorow's "Down and out in the Magic Kingdom" (craphound.com) for a story based in such a universe.
"Why the future doesn't need us", Bill Joy, Wired 8.04, April 2000, http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy_pr.html quotes The Unabomber's Manifesto to good effect.