24 July 2003

Robotic Nation

Marshall Brain, founder of the web site How Stuff Works, proclaims that by 2050, robots will hold half (over 50 million) of the jobs in the United States. Brain cites Moore's Law in his argument that increasing computing power makes full scale job automation inevitable. And he presents a detailed breakdown of job categories that will be significantly transformed by robotics.

Future prognostications are always fraught with the inherent errancy in applying present day frameworks on an open, uncertain future course that nobody, except God, can see with a prescient scope. Disciples who extol the virtues of technological progress dismiss concerns of job loss by countering that new jobs are created. But, one truth is indeed clear - it does take less work and less workers. Even before the recent economic downturn and widescale job migration to the third world, job totals at Fortune 500 companies were measurably lower than they were a decade ago. While I don't subscribe that the charted future Brain sees is gospel, he is on the mark in identifying a trend that leads in that direction.
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