If you ask me, automation (e.g. robots) will kill the majority of jobs this century. When the majority of the world population will be unemployed, it will cause significant problems though. Not only will the typical face of unemployment show its face with poverty and social issues arising allover; the people that own the robots will also not have a market to sell products to anymore. There’s no money around to spend on products since nobody is making any money anymore. This will create a vicious cycle of economies shrinking and pretty-much a worldwide apocalypse.
To avoid this, the capital owners of the technology and governments may need to pay for most of the people’s income. This income will be paid from the tax income of the businesses that still do make money. The government can then re-distribute this money for social work such as helping the elderly, building housing teaching at schools and universities and other projects that benefit ‘the people’. North and Western European countries like Denmark, Sweden, Germany and (my home country) the Netherlands actually already subsidise many people’s incomes through direct subsidies of entire industries like education and public housing. However, this is still a minority of the countries’ workforce. Now this might change into the government paying for the majority of people’s incomes.
The question is if all countries will allow this ‘socialist’ configuration. The transition may go relatively smoothly in North and Western European countries. But the United States is a prime example of a nation that’s frightened of even adopting moderately socialist policies, as we noticed from the Obama’s health care plans a few years ago. Even if the governments want to adopt this configuration, will the owners of the technology capital actually agree to pay up? There’s a fair chance these these companies will have become more powerful (and wealthy) than the world governments and simply overthrow them. Look at how United States politics are already dictated by wealthy corporations through lobbyists on both sides of the parties. This may only increase to more private power for the people that can pay for power, and that’s going to be, you guessed it, the ones that own the robots.
And that, right there, is quite a dark prospect.