In the not so distant past, people viewed the planet has having infinite resources, and the only thing that prevented us from having ample amounts of physical goods was labor and know-how. As I like to keep pointing out, in the early days of the United States both the federal government and state governments gave away land for free to anyone willing to farm it.
But things have changed since then. There has been a huge increase in world population, and there has also been a huge increase in the amount or productivity per human. In the future, when there is robot mining, robot agriculture, self-driving trucks, robot factories manufacturing robots for other factories, lack of labor will no longer be an issue with respect to the manufacture and distribution of physical goods. Resources will be the bottleneck that prevents infinite manufacturing.
This means that there will be even more devaluation of human labor. There won’t be enough resources available to employ even a small percentage of humans in manufacturing and other related blue-collar jobs given how few human workers will be needed in the future production chain.
Robot manufacturing will also have greater economies of scale than human-based manufacturing because it will probably take some human ingenuity to set up the factory, but once the factory is set up it cranks out merchandise twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with minimal human labor requirements. Therefore, it would be much more efficient to set up a single robot manufacturing process than to set up robot manufacturing processes for hundreds of small independent companies. In the future, the economy will be even more winner-take-all than it is today.
In the future we will see much less class mobility, because capital (robot factories, resources) are much more important than labor. If your born to a family with capital, then you will stay in the upper class, but if you are born to a family without capital, you will not be able to work your way up to a higher class because there will be such little demand for labor. Most people will work at government jobs which can’t be roboticized such as teaching, social work, law enforcement, and the military—jobs that are necessary to support and control the ever-growing lumpenproletariat. Or they will work in jobs where they serve rich people, because rich people like to lord it over the common folk so they prefer being served by humans rather than by robots. The upper class themselves will work in winner-take-all value transference jobs; fields in which those not born to money won’t be able to compete because they require so many years or costly education followed by non-remunerative work. There will be a small middle-class of engineers who program robots and computers and design new goods and industrial processes. They will be mostly Asian.
How do you profit from this robotic future? The answer is to invest in commodities because they will become more expensive. Because of peak oil, oil will be one of the first commodities to go up in value, so investing in companies with in-the-ground oil reserves is a good investment opportunity to profit from the dystopian robotic future.
And the other thing you need to do is to get in the upper class, because the future won’t have much of a place for those who just want to settle for just being middle class.
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Don’t believe this vision of the future? Just look around and you will see that everything I predict for the future is already happening. These trends will just continue in the same direction, and in fact accelerate sharply in the near future when robots suddenly become commonplace rather than science fiction.