I found this thinking-out-loud by an economist on a blog about the impact of robots on wages fascinating to mull:
So your house, for example, might still be worth 250K dollars but within a few years the cost of deconstructing your existing house and building a new house from the parts might be 500 dollars and could be done by several thousand robots in an afternoon. As you can see in a world of such cheap service the actual cost of materials becomes a huge consideration. Building an entirely new house and on new land is radically different proposition than reconstructing an existing house.
This is why everyone who owns something besides their own labor power would likely become very rich, very fast in the robot future.
Oh yeah, I also was interested to see that this group of right-leaning econ guys seem to view econ theory as fairly settled on the idea that immigrants *don’t* drive down wages, which is pretty much accepted as fact from every right leaning non-economist I’ve ever heard open their mouth on immigration.
Which means economists are doing a pretty shitty job getting the word out on that. I’ve seen a lot of economists say this, as the more brains you dump into an economy, the rising tide lifts all boats (bringing all those European immigrants post WWII is often said to be the cause of American rocking the 20th century). Most people view immigration as negative because they’re functionally economically illiterate, they view jobs as a static function (ie: there are 1000 jobs, and 1000 Americans, and pay is jobs divided by people available for the job, in their mind. Therefore, more people arriving equals competition for the jobs or lower pay). Economics is more complex.
Although, economics often comes down to color of skin. No one ever minded that I showed up and took jobs from Americans because I look white, but around the parts I live I overhear a fair number of white people worried about brown people ‘taking’ jobs.
Either way, these guys seem to think robots would actually drive down the pay because robots don’t create a demand for services of their own or perform any consumption.
Which right away makes me realize these guys also haven’t read THE MIDAS PLAGUE by Frederik Pohl, set in a world where robots are creating too much for humans to consume, and people are being forced to live profligate lives in order to try and overcome the economic problem. Eventually some dude hits upon having his robots consume stuff to create demand and help him out.
Yeah, that’s right, once again, Science Fiction was all over that shit already back in the day.