Automation is taking over all industries and disrupting existing economic models. There are already robot factories producing goods without human intervention. There are automated tellers, cashiers, janitors, pilots, trains, taxis, trucks, forklifts, backhoes, and farm tractors. Soon there will be automated doctors, lawyers, lifeguards, firefighters, and programmers. This is inevitable with the progress of time; eventually all jobs will be performed by algorithms and pneumatics. Naysayers can be reminded that time goes on forever. If all jobs aren't taken over by robots in the year 3000, what about 30000? If humanity lives long enough we will have all this.
We can call this inevitable point "the automation singularity". At this point nobody works and there are no jobs. Everything is produced by robots. As a result, costs of production for goods and services are zero. The robots are powered by energy that comes from power stations that are robot-maintained. Energy, like all goods and services, is free to produce. All products and services and energy is free because people don't have the wages to pay for anything. Robots mine and farm and harvest. These materials are transported by robot trucks to robot factories. The goods are carried by robot drones to houses. Robots build and maintain each other. Ultimately, their programming is governed by laws written in code by human politicians, hopefully in some kind of democracy.
It is a concept, but we need to start thinking about it now because we are already approaching it. And our current economic system only works if it's far away from the singularity. If, for example, a new technology were developed overnight, and this technology instantly replaced 30%, 40%, or 50% of existing jobs with robots, it would be a catastrophe. That percentage of people would instantly be out of work, reliant on our government's safety net. The owners of the means of production would become richer by not having the expense of payroll. And unless the government taxes the ever-loving shit out of them, it won't be able to feed all the have-nots. The consequences of such are unknown but disastrous in all cases.
Present capitalist models [are supposed to] provide a fair economy by balancing an individual's contribution to the economy (labor and investment) with the individual's consumption from the economy (goods and services). Thus, any man can make wages and spend them and have a quality of life. This often doesn't work, as is well-documented, because of lack of mobility or competition or both. But the system does "work" in that we do not have a 40% unemployment and mass welfare. However, this is the part of the system that doesn't work when large chunks of a population lose their jobs because in this system every household needs a job (or welfare).
Many theories of how to prevent this spiraling economic disparity attempt to restrain technological progress to create and preserve humans' jobs. I myself have contributed to job creation by throwing litter on the ground in city parks. If I throw enough litter, the city will be forced to hire additional cleaners and I will have created jobs. This is as nonsensical as any politicians' call to create jobs. Humans need food, water, and shelter but they do not need work. Think of the invention of the windmill: nobody lamented the miller's lost job. The miller went on to do other work, possibly in the arts or sciences. As more and more jobs were replaced by machines in the enlightenment and later industrial revolution, people as a whole simply had more free time. Instead of working 7 days a week, they started to work only 5.
This hints at a policy solution to this dire problem: a light touch that will guide our economy into the automation age. The work week must be shortened. By mandating overtime pay at gradually fewer hours per week, we can ensure that everyone has a job until there are almost none left. One can see how this helps by considering an example.
Trucking is presently a healthy, competitive American industry. Workers have the job mobility to achieve good wages, and there are enough companies to compete and keep transportation prices low. To simplify, we will assume that 50% of the industry's employees are truckers and 50% do desk work. Everyone works a standard full-time 40-hour week. Now, say that all of the truckers lose their jobs to automation and policy-makers respond by reducing the work week to 20 hours in the trucking industry's remaining desk jobs. That is, all the employees doing desk jobs get paid overtime if they work more than 20 hours in a week, prompting employers to cut their hours in half and hire twice as many workers. Thus, jobs will open up for the 50% of out-of-work truckers. They will need to be retrained, yes, but at least the jobs will be there for them.
Nobody has lost their job, but everybody has lost 20 hours of work a week, and 50% of their wages. The company gains this unspent payroll as profit. This is assuming hourly wages don't change and the company's revenue doesn't change. However, this disparity is balanced by the hand of the market in two ways:
Wages go up If the company doubles hourly wages, everyone will make the same amount, even as they work less. The company will afford to do this with their new profit. The company could afford to pay for 4000 work hours a week before, and since the new robots don't cost anything to operate, the company can still afford to pay its workers as much for only 2000 man hours.
Cost of living goes down Assuming the company doesn't increase wages, they will profit immensely. However, as more trucking companies switch to automated trucks, they will be able to undercut each other on price. Remember that this is a highly competitive market with thin profit margins: there is too much competition to allow any company to afford to maintain high prices. As companies charge less and less for transportation, the cost of goods and services will go down. This means prices will go down in stores, and people will be able to afford them on their lower salaries. As cost of living goes down in lockstep with average salaries, people can afford all the same goods and services as before. Thus, quality of life is not affected.
More likely is that both situations will happen gradually: costs of living will decrease and hourly wages will increase. The invisible hand of the market should balance them out and improve everyone's quality of life. Perhaps governments could regularly adjust the workweek hours based on metrics of how many jobs are lost to robots. This would work much like the regular adjusting of interest rates: a way of tuning the economy so it performs at peak.
Hopefully the correct adjustments to our system will be made. If they are, we will all be able to work less and have more time for hobbies, self-improvement, art, exercise, science, and other extracurricular things that accelerate the prosperity of our civilization.
 I do not actually do this.
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