Around the year 2050, there will probably be about 42 billion people in the world. We'll have robots that can make other robots and fix other robots and dig metal out of the ground. We probably won't have construction workers or ditch diggers, we might not have plumbers or auto mechanics.
Everyone who doesn't have robots will probably be a farmer and might not have running water. The certainly won't have iPods.
The people who have robots will either be doing very technical or creative work that the robots can't do (yet). I'm afraid that only the smartest or most artistic people will matter.
I wonder if my brother, Eddie, will have a robot. He's a nice kid, but, honestly, I don't think he's about to become a doctor or an engineer.
Eddie has a few ideas about what he might want to do when he grows up; my favorite of these is his opening and operating a sandwich shop. He'd invent sandwiches that people wouldn't think to try, but that they'd find that they like. Eddie would know the regulars and they'd be happier people because they'd see Eddie everyday.
If Eddie were to be an adult right now, this would be a great job. In 2050, though, maybe robots would be so much better at making sandwiches than Eddie that he'd be out of a job.
Will the people with robots be good enough to share with Eddie?
There are two kinds of cultural stuff. There's the stuff so good or new that strangers would care about it, and there's the stuff that is good because you made it and your family loves you. I'm used to thinking of the former stuff as better, and I think that's an unhealthy attitude.
I have a picture in my cubicle that Eddie drew. I think he made it when I was home watching him during a family emergency. Every time I look at the picture, I smile. My life wouldn't be as good as it is if Eddie hadn't made that picture for me. Thanks, Eddie!