We’re Going To Need A Lot of Robots.
You might be thinking that’s a bit crazy. That we keep adding people on this planet and they’re going to need jobs. And robots take away jobs. They’re increasingly used in manufacturing and now there’s robots that have figured out how to open a door (that simple task for us, is very hard for a robot.) But the reality is, we’re going to need lots and lots and lots of robots.
Robots will play a key role in how humanity adapts in the Cognitive Age. In part, this is due to how economics will change and likely parts of capitalism. Also, because of increasing population decline. There are mixed estimates on when we will reach peak humans and the rate of decline. Some suggest we’ll reach peak population around 2064 at 9.7 Billion and then we’ll decline to around 8.8 Billion. The UN thinks we’ll peak at 10.9 Billion. Others at 8 Billion and some think we’ll decline well below 7 Billion.
As countries become wealthier, birth rates decline. Western democracies have been experiencing population decline for some time. Where we see the increases is across Africa and in India. China isn’t even meeting replacement levels for its population. Russia is paying people to have kids…now many Russians are leaving as they fear extended war and economic demise due to needless Putin’s war on Ukraine. And male fertility is on the decline as well, with research showing a decline of over 10% in the past 16 years. Japan is another country facing serious population declines.
Which brings us to robots. While the world is in a period of turbulence with the rise of populism, nationalism in the United States and other countries, including Sweden and Norway, capitalism in a mess and the reshaping of our cultures due to digital technologies like the internet, it can seem a proper mess. It is. It will be for a while.
Sociocultural systems around the world are at the beginning stages of a fundamental change. Humans have been here before. It is a cycle. Ray Dalio describes these cycles very well. He does take a more economics focus in his argument. Historians, sociologists and cultural anthropologists have seen these cycles too.
A big difference in this change of world order are technologies that we didn’t have in the past and the progress we’re making as a species. While that may be hard to see, we’re moving forward more than we are backward. We may slip a little here and there. But we’ve let the Genie out of the bottle with gene editing, Artificial Intelligence, robotics and the internet. We find more benefit to these technologies than we do downsides.
So, robots. As our work becomes increasingly knowledge-based and financial models change along with economics and capitalism, we will pass on the drudgery of repetitive tasks to robots and AI. We will need robots to care for the elderly, as they already do in Japan. We will need them to make cars, trucks and other goods.
We’re already seeing a significant shift beginning as the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions lift. Some call it the Great Resignation. People aren’t stopping work. They’re just starting to say they want a better standard of living, more balance. So they’re finding companies and opportunities or making those economic opportunities and digital technologies are playing a key role in allowing them to do that.
So we are going to need a lot of robots. As our societies change around the world and we evolve our technologies at an exponential rate, we are going to find new ways to adapt. It’s what humans do to not just survive, but thrive. Robots are one of those technologies.