A nice article, but it seems to be entirely skewed towards the USA. The United States of America is not the only country in the world, and I think it’s important to put some of these issues in context with other regions.
Having said that, I believe this is probably a bigger issue for richer, more industrialized, and less compassionate countries; and probably in the next 20 t0 30 years. Artificial Intelligence needed to replace a human being is decades away [don’t believe the media hype]. Automation, on the other hand, is less of a problem because it’s simply makes the human more productive, unless the intent is to replace rather than to enhance.
Robots are expensive. There are so many emerging economic regions that simply will not be able to afford retooling their industrial operations with robots, regardless of whatever cost benefits there might be. It is simply a massive undertaking from a financial and logistical standpoint, and this cannot be overemphasized.
All tolled, we’re going to have a world with almost zero fossil fuel consumption before we have a world where sentient robots have completely taken over the industrial workforce. This is not to say it’s not something to worry about, but I would be very disappointed if we — as members of the human race — act like we have no power and control to make it a reality. We have to care.
A first step would be to mandate/compel businesses to label goods made either partially or entirely by robots. This way, consumers can make a stand for humanity, and protect the dignity of livelihood, by choosing only products made entirely by humans, or with a sustainable combination of both [robot and human], even if that product turns out to be a little more expensive than its SkyNet alternative.