Obviously this is not all going to happen overnight, it’s going to be a slow steady advance to full automation and there will be a period of adaptation along the way. There are likely to be key events that trigger an explosion in the advancement of full automation along the way. To start with we will get more and more partial automation followed by full automation in some industries. This is likely to causing short term problems until we work out how the world will run with full automation. The first big breakthrough is coming soon with the full automation of transportation. The top level of driving automation is called level 5, which is when the vehicle is as good or better than a human at all driving tasks in any place or condition it could encounter. As I write this we are not quite there yet but there are people putting dates on when it could become a reality and it’s only five to ten years away at most. The rate of advancement in this field is astonishing and seems to be getting faster every year. Now the big problem with that is that there are a lot of people who earn a living as a driver, millions of them and as much as 10%-20% of the workforce could loose their jobs. It could also happen quite quickly as a lot of these jobs are working for companies that have a fleet of vehicles that are replaced about every five to ten years. This could mean the jobs are replaced overnight for lots of taxi, lorry, bus or other commercial vehicle drivers. Most of these driving tasks don’t need level 5 automation as they perform tasks along a known route and only need to be able to cope with what it will encounter on that route. For example shipping goods from a dock to a distribution centre may mean driving from the dock to a main road that connects it directly to the distribution centre. It will never have to leave that road. These driving tasks will be the first to be automated and within 5-10 years after level 5 driving automation is good enough, all these type of driving jobs will not need any humans. Along the way there will be people who try to stop this full automation, just like any technological revolution, they will say it will be the end of the world or fight it to protect their interests. Technology rarely goes backwards and usually the nay-sayers are proved wrong, it’s not the end of the world but the start of a new era. I’m sure too that in the world of full automation there will still be ways to move up the social ladder, become more powerful and what every you need to feed your ego in the current era. Often though, it’s the transitions between eras that are the most dangerous. Economic depressions, starvation, uprisings and the like can be triggered by a change in how the world works. The move to solve all our problems and have a world where everyone’s basic needs are easily covered by automation and robots could well be one of the world’s darkest hours. We do have some fall back plans though, including ideas like Universal Basic Income which would give everyone a basic income that's enough to cover their basic needs. At the moment people are saying the cost of this basic income is too high and they may have a point. Though as we move towards full automation then the prices of everything drops, therefore the amount of basic income needed also drops. So I am expecting there will come a point where we can afford to just give everyone a basic income because the basics they need are so cheap. Once everything is free then the basic income is just a way controlling how much products an average person can consume over a set period of time. If they want more then they will have to find a way to get other people to give up some of their universal income and pay them for some service so they have more than the average person. One of the fist big drive down in prices is going to come with the automation of transportation. Self driving vehicles are almost certainly going to be electrically powered. The price of solar and battery combinations are falling all the time. Both electric cars and batteries for the home need a lot of battery cells. As the demand raises for both of these then more factories are built to make them. It’s almost essential to automate these factories to keep up with demand, Elon Musk recently showed of a video of his first big battery factory where they had to use a strobe light for the camera to see the manufacturing line in action, otherwise it just looks like a blur because they are moving so fast. These batteries are made in huge volumes, very quickly because the demand for them is massive. So the new factories, made to supply this demand for batteries, are likely to be heavily or fully automated and the same is true for solar panels or solar roof tiles. It seems likely these new plants will be built either in deserts where there is cheap land and good sunshine to power them, or they will be built near where the raw material needed are mined or processed to reduce transportation. The main cost of batteries and solar panels these days is paying for the construction of the plants and building the supply chain to make them. Once some of these huge manufacturing plants have paid for themselves they will suddenly either cause a massive drop in price or make enough money to make even more plants. By the time the driving jobs are going we could be getting electricity a lot cheaper and running more vehicles on electricity than oil based fuels. So the cost of petrol/diesel and labour from transportation will vanish, reducing a sizeable cost of producing physical goods, therefore everything suddenly becomes a lot cheaper to make or buy. You will have less people working but the amount of money they need to buy anything will have dropped too. I know some of will be thinking this is just a utopian dream, well maybe you have a point. This is the ‘best case scenario’ and there are other ways the future can play out. The minority in power could just let billions die and keep the utopian future for themselves, something else could come along and change things again or there could be a totally unexpected side effect we can not predict. Though these are just likely to be a setback or the cost of transgressing to a new way of living. Eventually we will automate everything and never have to work again. It’s only a matter of how long that takes and how well we adapt to that. Chapter Six: What’s needed for full automation?