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.
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?