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JSPES, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Winter 2007)
pp. 397-420

Robotics: A Route to the Survival of Advanced Societies?

Dwight D. Murphey

Wichita State University, retired

The world’s more advanced economies and their societies are facing crises posed by the competition of vast pools of low-wage foreign labor and by the aging of their populations. Globalization has caused low-wage foreign labor, some of it of excellent quality, to come into direct competition with the firms and workers within the advanced economies through imports, offshore production, outsourcing and immigration. The result for many
individuals and firms within the developed societies is growing economic displacement, a struggle for economic survival, and downward pressure on salaries, wages and living standards. At the same time, the populations in the developed societies are growing older, raising the question of how an evergrowing
number of the elderly are to get by in a time, soon to come, when
there will be relatively few working-age adults. Further, the West faces demographic swamping by the waves of immigration, both legal and illegal. Solutions for all of these problems are hard to come by, but one that is receiving increasing attention is for the advanced economies to turn their reliance primarily to their capital. They can do this by accelerating their development of non-labor-intensive technologies and business processes.
The growth of robotics looms large as perhaps the preeminent future form of such a technology – one with far-reaching social implications.