Wave of Automation (Donald King Timeline)

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The Wave of Automation is an ongoing techno-economic phenomenon. Increased levels of automation, including the use of robotics in industry and agriculture, as well as the application of computer programs for office work and services, has had a significant sweep of implications for the American economy. Largely focused in developed nations, the Wave of Automation has eliminated hundreds of millions of jobs, creating a vast unemployment crisis. Governments have responded by providing different degrees of wealth redistribution and welfare programs to solve the issue of inequality; different political parties in the US disagree about the proper magnitude of this wealth redistribution.

Moore's law, the principle of the exponential growth in computing power, halted around 2025 because of engineering constraints (largely due to quantum interference in transistors). Thus, transistors were left largely at the 5 nm limit; computing power has not increased by much since then, and even now, a 1,000 USD computer possesses only about 200 billion FLOPS of processing capacity. Meanwhile, the human brain has a capacity of about one exaflop. Thus, for creative tasks, like art, science, and especially invention, that require a significant degree of brain processing capacity, humans will probably always be cheaper to use than computers.

However, simple tasks, including factory labor and office work, that do not require a significant fraction of human brain capacity, can be implemented cheaply with a superior robot or computer. Thus, the vast majority of jobs--employment involving simple or repetitive tasks, and even more complex labor, like work in the services sector--became replaced with automation, as corporations intended to save money and resources by not hiring humans. Thus, an increasingly high fraction of economic resources became concentrated in the "creative elite" of scientists, artists, and inventors, whose work could not be replicated by machine. These individuals provided ideas that could be used to produce new products or make the production process more efficient. The actual products would be manufactured physically by robots, or, if non-physical (like books or information) would be distributed on digital networks. As most of the population became unemployed and unable to afford many of these products, most of the products were consumed by members of the elite themselves. Thus, companies transitioned to providing luxury goods for the rising elite, and, without the necessity to use the broader unemployed population, the elite became an entirely closed, self-contained economic system. Members of the elite would come up with ideas for new products or ways to make the production process better, and these products would be consumed by other members of the elite.

Government redistribution takes some of the elite's economic resources (production) and gives it to the larger, unemployed population, thus draining the elite's closed economic system of wealth. Different politicians disagree on how much wealth should be distributed in this manner. Members of the Rockefeller Party (including Annie McPherson) propose only a moderate amount of government welfare, while those in the Democratic Party (like President Albert Norman) feel that more government economic power is appropriate. Members of the Patriot Party, including Donald King, desire more public revenues to be spent on the military, and less on welfare.

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