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Manufacturing: Coming 3rd Industrial Revolution?
I suggest you take the time to read The Third Industrial Revolution. This comparatively short article discusses how its author believes the Internet, robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and their collective integration are about to "launch a new era".
The central idea put forward is that "the Third Industrial Revolution will 'collapse the distance between the design of a product and its physical manufacture". This is very important in the context of what I consider to be a major peripheral issue that I suggest has a very real chance over the longer term of changing society, and potentially assisting in the promotion of societal havoc.
The article, while an interesting summary, fails to discuss that 'major peripheral issue' that I believe is likely to result from the increased integration of technology into manufacturing as that has a high probability of happening at an increasing pace over the next years and decades.
That issue: How will the increasingly larger portion of the population that will be unemployed cope with 'life without opportunity and meaningful work' due to a combination of:
robotics, 3D Printing, and other technologies spawned by such things increasing productivity while concurrently requiring less human intervention and labour hours; and,
the inability of many people to keep up intellectually and/or practically with technological change and application?
Simply put, will all the unemployed people:
sit on street-curbs as 'the few employed technically trained and required' pass them on the way their automated factories in their driverless vehicles; or,
block and stop those driverless vehicles, thereby ensuring no one works alongside the robots in the automated factories and 'forcing' some sort of social equality.
Obviously this is extreme 'futuristic style' thinking - but I am sure you get the idea.
In the next ten years, not likely. In the next fifty years, perhaps!
Topical Reference: The Third Industrial Revolution, from Real Clear Markets, Robert Tracinski, March 3, 2013 - reading time 4 minutes.