Aaron Saenz at Singularity Hub had post a while back with some great videos showing the extent to which manufacturing has automated. I’ve included a couple of the videos below; you can see the rest here.
As you watch these, keep in mind that automation is going to rapidly penetrate nearly every employment sector—not just manufacturing. If you have a “knowledge-worker” job, automation will not require investment in expensive machines or robots: it will only require a sufficiently sophisticated software automation or specialized artificial intelligence application. (By “specialized artificial intelligence” I mean the type of expert systems that currently land jet aircraft and perform thousands of other tasks. These types of systems will get better and better and will be able to take on a much broader range of jobs and tasks. Automating the vast majority of jobs—even those that require college educations and high skill levels—will not require the “general” or human-like artificial intelligence that we see in science-fiction movies.)
As Aaron says:
As robots continue to step in and increase factory productivity, new and cheaper goods will become available. If we plan it right, that will mean we can spend more time being creative, relaxing, and enjoying the fruits of our mechanized labor.
Yes, but the problem is that if you don’t have a job, then you don’t have an income. In the U.S. you don’t have a right to health care, or the right to a home. So how exactly are we going to get to the point where we can begin “enjoying the fruits of our mechanized labor?” (“We” meaning the majority of the population—not just the top few percent.) That’s the question that I try to explore in The Lights in the Tunnel (which you can now download in PDF format for free).