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Here's a thing copied over from Facebook: A thing I always wonder is, what happens if automation takes over the bulk of jobs for which the bulk of humans are qualified?

My pessimistic thought: Rich robot owners get richer yet by orders of magnitude, because automation generates unheard of wealth. Displaced workers get poorer and can never find decent work again. At some point, it won't even be that wages are too low for a human - it will be that robots are so cheap and capable that hiring a human would be ludicrous (or sadistic). I can only see that ending in rioting, war, and revolution.

My optimistic thought: Robots are so cheap and capable that hiring a human would be ludicrous (or sadistic). We grow out of the moral intuition that one must "earn a living" - since robots make living so easy, and automation fills most niches ever available for average humans to earn anything anyway. We somehow figure out a better system to share wealth which rewards and incentivizes behavior that benefits both individuals and civilization at large. Some of humanity ends up wallowing in hedonistic dissipation. But, who cares, because the surprising bulk of the species comes up with new and exciting ways to put robots to work
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funny... once we had "free workers"....  Dgooogle Unchained. it was no betterverse....
I'm not sure how you'd quantify it, but I think we've convincingly demonstrated that there is a ceiling to the degree to which we can automate things.  Everything we build breaks down - engineering wouldn't exist if that weren't the case.  There will always be a place for humans keeping automation running.

I think use of the term "robot" is antiquated.  Most of the automation we deal with day to day is software.  That the software sometimes talks to sensors and actuators is usually secondary.  Software has not gotten more reliable since it was first invented, and it probably never will.  That's why syadmins exist.  In the mechanical world, that's why engineers and technicians exist.
Yeah, there will be a place for some humans to keep automation running - but, not most. I'm betting there will come a tipping point: One where more people are permanently unemployed by automation than can find work - either supporting automation or taking care of niches automation hasn't yet claimed.

I don't think automation will take over everything - just most of the things most people are qualified to do. Even if automation takes over only half of what half of us are qualified to do, that's still a crapton of people who'll never earn a living ever again.

Also, I just read "I, Robot" by Issac Asimov: He calls everything a robot in there, even the ones that aren't walking around and are just voices emanating from spheres. So, yeah that's kind of antiquated, but it's top-of-mind for me right now :)
I, for one, welcome our new... oh, forget it!
You forget, robots will also be the army and enforcers in such a scenario (think drones with machine guns). The nice thing is that the rich will eat themselves as their income sources dwindle and die off, expertise will also collapse as those areas are no longer invested, and eventually society will implode to the point where we can no longer draw upon nearly depleted resources and revert to a near primal existence surrounded by the rapidly decaying corpses of our folly.

This is why I spend my nights and weekends teaching cockroaches how to slow clap.
train the termites to take out kelly's hot tub.:)
i also wonder about this and worry about the moral position that everyone must earn a living and that any sort of welfare payment is bad. more worrisome is this political idea of "workfare", a system that requires working any sort of low paid job or unpaid volunteer position before claiming welfare. as you said... sadistic

can we get to a productivity level, as a society, where it is a minimal burden to provide everyone with a civil stipend enough to cover basic food and shelter needs? if not handled well, could it inflate prices of basic goods? making some super rich at the expense of others?
I don't think the first part (everyone must earn a living) a "moral" position - it's an economic one.  Fundamentally, economies are about raw materials and labor.  The connection is getting tenuous already, and that's causing problems. -- there's certainly no raw materials, and very little labor, in the multi-trillion dollar financial industry.

There's plenty of room in that model for kindness to those who can't pull their weight economically (most entitlements), and for ensuring that basic needs are met regardless of individual economic output (e.g., minimum wage).

In a world where robots do all the labor and gather all of the raw materials, presumably their labor and raw materials will go toward making humans comfortable.  Do we distribute that comfort evenly?  The bulk of human history indicates that's impractical and impossible.  Do we choose the current least-bad thing known to civilization: base the distribution of the robots' output on some kind of market system?  If so, how does the market find a price?  What do humans bring to a transaction involving, say, robot-farmed potatoes?

Most of the bubbles we've seen recently are due to markets being unable to find prices because they have become disconnected from fundamentals - either because the market has no fundamentals (the finance industry), or because the fundamentals have become distorted (housing).
i can't wait. Let creativity be our only job, robots can have the maintenance.
Now that's an idea I can get behind, economically :)
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