Email of the day (1)
Comment of the Day

January 02 2013

Commentary by David Fuller

Email of the day (1)

More on the march of technology
"May I wish all the team a very Happy New Year. Thanks for the interesting comment on production and labour costs in China. In 2012 I read an article in which it was predicted that by 2050 80% of all world production would be made by 20% of the world's population. If the shift to production by robots does occur and billions of workers lose their jobs, where will the buying power come from to absorb all that production? Won't we need social-democratic income redistribution on a massive global scale? Won't we need some form of "world government" to achieve that?"

David Fuller's view I think the prediction you quote is probably correct, at least in terms of assembly line manufacturing. This is not a new trend, if we consider the rows of desks within secretarial departments and also for paper-shufflers, mostly male, in white collar industries of earlier decades, before computers increased our efficiency and GDP growth. Most of those people went on to find more creative jobs including within service industries.

However, the rate of mechanisation is increasing and that will create some adjustment and educational problems. Nevertheless, we are a creative species and I view the replacement of assembly line jobs with machines as a form of liberation. The same can be said of mechanised farming.

While living wages should be a goal within countries, I hope and suspect that the 'solution' need not be "income redistribution on a massive global scale", let along "some form of world government". Meanwhile, my impression is that the long-term trend in terms of social mobility and personal development continues to improve for the majority of people, although not necessarily exponentially.

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