Robot Replacements

From Bloomberg:

The appeal for factory owners is clear: German robot maker Kuka AG estimates a typical robot costs about 5 euros ($5.38) an hour to operate over its life. The hourly compensation cost of U.S. manufacturing was $36.49 per employee in 2013, according to The Conference Board.

In Traveller, we get sentient robots at TL 12. That may well be true in real life, depending on where you tag TL 12… but robots are going to get a lot more common in the next two decades, way before we get to that level of know-how.

And in some countries, the future will arrive sooner than others. Especially those nations that are 1) very wealthy, 2) have a love of high technology, and 3) depopulating fast.

From Marketwatch:

Professor Richard Thaler, an expert in behavioral economics, talked to MarketWatch about his ‘lazy’ investing strategy that allows investors to maximize their returns while doing very little.

In essence, Gartman explained in an interview, robots are enabling Japanese corporations to turn a demographic liability into an asset. Once roboticized, those corporations will easily outperform firms from other countries that are more dependent on labor.

After all, he argued, “Robots don’t go on strike, they don’t sexually assault other robots, don’t ask for health care, don’t protest, and they do their job consistently and for the most part flawlessly.” As a result, Gartman predicts, profit margins at Japanese companies will “rise sharply and perhaps relentlessly.”

It’s no accident, he continued, that Japan is already at the forefront of the robotics revolution. And its lead is likely to widen even further, as the country is forced demographically into investing even more in that revolution.

Strange: we already know the first country where robots will outnumber humans, but there has been few scenarios where the implications of this has been chased down and spelled out.

An interesting Traveller scenario, yes?


About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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3 Responses to Robot Replacements

  1. Bill Cameron says:

    Reads like a pamphlet for the “Society for the Sovereignty of Man over Machine”.

    Jokes aside, I’ve long pondered what the “end of work” means for higher TL societies. While the Third Imperium isn’t a post-scarcity economy by any stretch of the imagination, it’s still intriguing to mull over just what all those billions on those high TL worlds actually do to fill their days. My guess is more Dickensian than the “Improve yourself” utopia of Star Trek.

    While none of the polities making up the EU, US, and rest of the West yet have official “minincome”, “negative income tax”, or “guaranteed standard of living” policies, there are plenty of social programs which in the aggregate come quite close to providing the same. The effects on the socio-economic groups most involved haven’t been pretty.

    Another example is the incredible collapse of marriage rates across the West. Changes in divorce have made marriage financially, legally, and psychologically dangerous to men while at the same time government support of single parents (nearly all mothers) has made that “lifestyle” more financially possible, albeit marginally.

    One of the results of this is the lowest male participation rate in the labor force since that statistic has been measured. Men, especially young men, no longer need to “do well” for their wives and families. Without the bills associated with a house, white picket fence, minivan, and all the rest, men no longer have the need to work overtime, strive for promotions, or even work regularly at all. Men only need to work enough to meet their own needs and pay for their own luxuries.

    The effect of this “retreat from work” on the tax base – the same tax base which creates and supports the single mothers those young men are avoiding – is only beginning to be felt.

    It seems to me that if – IF – the majority or even substantial minority of all those billions on all those high TL worlds are “minincome” recipients in one way or another, then the needs of social stability seem to require a higher level of “social engineering” on the part of governments than that which we would be comfortable.

    Suddenly the POP code DM to the LL roll in sysgen makes more sense.


  2. Andrew K says:

    “…then the needs of social stability seem to require a higher level of “social engineering” on the part of governments than that which we would be comfortable.”

    I’m sure that will end well since it’s arguable that government social engineering brought about the situation in the first place.


  3. Andrew K says:

    For a more in depth discussion of robots in society try this podcast, the best starts at the 3 minute mark.


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