Writing at bloomberg.com, columnist Virginia Postrel presents an thoughtful take on the realities of the ‘robot revolution,’ and how the transition to a deeply automated society will affect humanity in the decades to come:
From the cab of Rodney Terry’s state-of-the-art John Deere cotton stripper, harvesting cotton seems like the easiest job in the world. We chug along at four or five miles an hour, watching the giant machine’s bright yellow fingers gobble up eight rows of bolls at a time. White rows magically turn brown as we pass over them. Then comes the reveal, as every few minutes a plastic-wrapped cylinder eight feet across plops out the back, holding as much as 5,000 pounds of cotton ready for the gin.
The story goes on to cover three key aspects of practical automation:
1) Full automation was impossible without years of tinkering.
2) The robot takeover created opportunities.
3) Even when automation is unquestionably a net benefit, there are losers.