Call me skeptical, even cynical, but this entire thread reminds me of 1960s Popular Mechanics articles about flying cars and personal jetpacks.
I'm glad for all of the personal productivity improvements, especially Moore's Law and factory automation, but I think the slope of the curve is less exponential than the popular media predicts...
You have to understand that Moore's law is an exponential curve.
This article explains that extremely well, with an analogy and a cartoon:http://www.motherjones.com/media/2013/05/robots-artificial-intelligence-jobs-automation
It is on exactly the original topic - how soon robots are likely to be able to take most human jobs, and then what the impact on society and the economy and the distribution of wealth is likely to be.
"Until a decade ago, the share of total national income going to workers was pretty stable at around 70 percent, while the share going to capital—mainly corporate profits and returns on financial investments—made up the other 30 percent. More recently, though, those shares have started to change. Slowly but steadily, labor's share of total national income has gone down, while the share going to capital owners has gone up. The most obvious effect of this is the skyrocketing wealth of the top 1 percent, due mostly to huge increases in capital gains and investment income.
According to this chart made by Stuart Staniford, our robot overlords will take over soon.
In the economics literature, the increase in the share of income going to capital owners is known as capital-biased technological change. Let's take a layman's look at what that means.
The question we want to answer is simple: If CBTC is already happening—not a lot, but just a little bit—what trends would we expect to see? What are the signs of a computer-driven economy? First and most obviously, if automation were displacing labor, we'd expect to see a steady decline in the share of the population that's employed.
Second, we'd expect to see fewer job openings than in the past. Third, as more people compete for fewer jobs, we'd expect to see middle-class incomes flatten in a race to the bottom. Fourth, with consumption stagnant, we'd expect to see corporations stockpile more cash and, fearing weaker sales, invest less in new products and new factories. Fifth, as a result of all this, we'd expect to see labor's share of national income decline and capital's share rise.
These trends are the five horsemen of the robotic apocalypse, and guess what? We're already seeing them"
Any job that relies on an opinion, risk weighing, reasonableness, and making educated guesses in a field where every situation is unique. Robots/computers are great at things that can be reduced to a reliable, repeatable algorithm. Everything else not so much.
You're looking at current computers. As the article I linked points out, we have been making slow, but steady and serious progress towards true AI. The human brain isn't infinitely intelligent, we have a specific amount of processing power and memory. When computers hit that point, they should be able to do literally any mental task a human can do. They already do a much better job at risk weighing and educated guesses than we do, because they don't fall prey to the (many, powerful) cognitive biases we do.
Robotics will help generate even more wealth over time...
Greater efficiency benefits everyone in the long term.
They do definitely generate more wealth, as do all increases in efficiency, but greater efficiency does NOT necessarily benefit everyone. In fact, that basically came to a full stop a couple decades ago, and technology advances is one of the largest reasons. The other big one is political. Under a free market, increases in efficiency are likely to benefit everyone. But under capitalism, they only benefit investors, at the expense of labor. US politics have been undermining the free market and supporting capitalism to an ever greater extent in recent years, with the predictable result that median income has flatlined while the top 0.1% has grown exponentially: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2014/04/free-market-vs-capitalism-current-state.html
In theory, having robots do almost everything, and having humans do just those few things that robots couldn't possibly do (not sure what those things are, but lets assume there are some), could mean that every human has a 1 hour work week and a 10 years working career, and they earn an inflation adjusted $1000 per hour for the work that they do. The economy would be able to support it.
But as long as the politics and laws are as they are now, we're more likely to have 97% unemployment, and 3% private security forces.