2015 September 13 Sunday
Robot Nation: Has Needed Broad Bipartisan Support

Yet more reason why I keep getting more optimistic about the future of robots in the American workforce: Even a majority of Republicans favor a policy that will boost the spread of robots.

Nine-in-ten Democrats surveyed backed a minimum wage increase, but support among Republicans was more divided, with 53% supporting an increase and 43% opposed.

The theory is that a higher minimum wage will stop the decline in wages of the cognitively less able. But that trend (see below) will only be strengthened by higher minimum wage.

Rising Earnings Disparity Between Young Adults with And Without a College Degree

That graph really drastically understates the size of the earning power gap between levels of cognitive ability. College grads cover a wide IQ range and also a wide range in innate motivation, social skills, and degree of development of commercially useful skills. Engineers making over $100k and even over $200k are the norm in some areas, notably Silicon Valley. We need another graph line for degrees in engineering, computer science, and mathematical disciplines.

There are great benefits for the cognitively more able from a $15 per hour minimum wage. The most obvious benefit: Fewer illegal immigrants when demand for their low-skilled labor collapses. This will slow the growth of America's (quite socially pathological) lower classes.

But there is another benefit that might end up mattering even more in the long run: higher quality goods and services. Services will be delivered faster and better by the robots of 2030 and 2040. Imagine a robotic hair cutter than cuts your hair in about 2 minutes. Or a robotic chef that enables a cheap fast food restaurant to serve high quality cuisine. Or cheap, prompt, and very safe robotic taxis. And of course there is the long awaited robotic home cleaning maid. My hope is that the Dyson Eye 360 will provide a much better solution for the vacuuming part of that problem.

The Moore's Law doublings of computer power are doing more to usher in the robotics age than any government policy. But a $15 per hour minimum wage (and why not $20?) could make each step in robotic advancement happen a few years sooner.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 September 13 10:46 AM 

Randall Parker said at September 13, 2015 10:50 AM:

If you had comments on this post: I accidentally deleted it while trying to delete a duplicate other post. So I had to restore it but had no way to retrieve the comments. Please comment again. Sorry about that.

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