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The World Is Changing Faster Than You Think
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  • Dan King

    Not sure robots improve the economy. Product manufactured by robots will cost only the natural resources and the cost of capital. Once capital is amortized, robots work for free. So while they will improve our standard of living, they won’t help with the economy, which ultimately depends on humans trading with other humans.

    As Japan’s population shrinks, its economy will get smaller as well, robots notwithstanding.

    • CapitalHawk

      I think you are off base here and confusing (as many people do) “economy” with “standard of living”. When people talk of a growing economy, generally they assume that also means an improved standard of living. But, they are not necessarily related. If the GDP of the United States were stagnant for 10 years and in that time the population was also stagnant and the cost of living went down by 20% (i.e. the same standard of living could be purchased with fewer dollars) don’t you agree that the average American would be better off?

      • Dan King

        Sorry, but no. You have it backwards. I freely admit that robots will improve our standard of living, i.e., they’ll give us more stuff. What they won’t do (at least in the long term) is improve gdp. Making something for free is nice, but it doesn’t show up at the cash register where gdp is measured.

        I’m not against robots, just as I’m not against free stuff. But that’s not the economy.

        • CapitalHawk

          Yes, the number that is GDP will go down. So what? If we lopped of a digit from the prices of everything tomorrow and a car went from $40,000 to $4,000 and everyones pay went down by the same amount (i.e. all income and all expenses went down by 90%) the GDP would also go down by 90%. So what?

          GDP is a numerical representation of the nominal value of goods and services exchanged by people in an economy over a given period of time. Just because the nominal value goes up or down means nothing. The underlying value is what really matters. And getting the same value for fewer dollars or more value for the same dollars is good. Full stop.

          • Dan King

            I agree that gdp is not the end-all and be-all of life. But it is a good measure of total employment, income, tax receipts, etc.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The problem with robotics is the lack of AI. At the moment, it seems Waldos are the way to go with a person controlling many Waldos and so leveraging a person’s sapience. This isn’t to say that many repetitive tasks can’t be performed with a properly programed Robot, but that with the exception of assembly lines, most jobs require a lot more flexibility and adaptability, and even assembly lines have people supervising the stupid machines.

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