Welcome R2D2 & C3PO

While the robot characters R2D2 and C3PO were good guys in the Star Wars films, we can recall that robots were featured in movies and early television science fiction almost always as evil and villainous. Real life robots, which recently have seen increased use in manufacturing and service industries to perform various repetitive tasks may be resuming their villainous role.

Currently, many are fearful that these robots are causing many well-paying, and maybe some not so, jobs to go away.   This fear is nothing new.

The early 1960s information media fretted about automation as well. As it turned out in the subsequent decades, automation created many more jobs than it eliminated. But those memories fade.

The Wall Street Journal “Journal Report” (10/25/2019, R1) on technology features an essay “The High Cost of Impeding Automation” that is well worth reading. This article chronicles the history of vested groups and interests opposing innovation and labor-saving technology back to the Medieval period and even the Roman Empire, through the British Luddites in the early19th Century, to the present day. It noted that the world per capita income took 6,000 years to double until 1750, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the first real breakthrough in labor saving technology, but doubled every 50 years thereafter.

The comfort in our lives humans correspondingly increased immeasurably. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, the standard of living produced by one’s manual labor is that of a Medieval blacksmith; the rest is a gift from James Watt, Thomas Edison, and Jack Kilby.

For the full article, see https://www.wsj.com/

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