Even as Foxconn, Apple's iPhone manufacturer, continues to build new plants and hire thousands of additional workers to make smartphones, it plans to install more than a million robots within a few years to supplement its work force in China.
Think about this. Robots are close to being competitive in China. Suppose that robots improve their productivity/cost performance at a Moore's Law pace over the next decade. What happens to labor's share of income?
To put it another way, suppose that for most people, the future is one of ZMP--zero marginal product? That is one scenario, which I doubted when I first heard Robin Hanson articulate it. Now it strikes me as plausible. Under that scenario, I am not sure that I would be as wildly pro-natalist as Bryan. From a material standpoint, supporting lots of ZMP individuals will be cheap. But the social tensions of that scenario might be a little troubling.