The technology may be new, but the socio-economic consequences are are long established. I have been reading the Simon Carrow “Eagle” series (Think “Sharpe” but set in the era of the Claudian invasion of Britain) Whilst I dare say there is a fair amount of artistic license, I imagine that the historical factual side is reasonably accurately presented, especially the nature of life for the typical Roman citizen in Rome itself. We look forward to a future where an increasingly large proportion of “Work” will be carried out by machines of one form or another. The Romans didn't have machines but they did have slaves. And the socio-economic consequentness we face in the future are likely to be very similar to the ones that the Romans faced 2000 years ago. Now, I am not sure exactly how the Roman economy operated but it seems to me that the gist of it was this. Rome had a very wealthy aristocracy, who owned lots of slaves. One of the ways the aristocracy maintained their wealth was by serving as senior officers in the Legions while young before going on to politics. During their time served they would claim a good share of the booty that military campaigns captured which would serve them in later life. For the non-aristocracy Romans, life had rather fewer opportunities. Rome did have a middle class of traders and merchants and small farmers (Who also would own slaves) Many of this middle class would be made up of retired army personnel who had been fortunate to survive their 25 years service and were able to retire on a combination of their acquired booty, Final payment, and Army pension. Typically these people would buy a small farm in the country (Yes really, Nothing ever changes! ) to retire too, of course, worked by Slaves But for the rest of the Roman citizenry the options were really very limited. Most would not have employment because there was no work for them to do. All the work was done by slaves. And why salary a Citizen when you could buy a slave outright? (There would be some work available for plebs, There had to be since Rome did have a cash economy too, But it would be likley to be the equivalent of our minimum wage, unskilled labour, I expect) This does not mean that the “Plebs” led comfortable lives. Many lived in large crowded and often really quite slummy tenements not unlike today's sink estate tower blocks. Since there was no work for them to do, they were not able to support themselves so were allocated a daily bread ration, a massive logistical operation involving the production of over a million loaves per day! (And the origin of the phrase “Dole” to refer to benefit payments). And they were kept distracted from their poverty by a constant diet of sporting events, provided by the aristocracy, to keep the mob entertained and their minds away from rioting. (Is all this sounding familiar??) The only way any “Pleb” could escape this life was to join up and hope they would survive to retirement. This I see very much as a model for our current future. Now, the economic logistics of this will be slightly different in an industrial society since we rely far more on “Stuff” in our day to day lives to define our standard of living than the Romans did, For a classical Roman citizen Bread, Circuses (and roof over their heads) would be enough to keep the mob happy. Todays Mob might need a little more placating, but probably not much more (And Robot slaves will eventually be able to produce “Stuff” for a relative pittance) Bit dystopian really isnt it? Am I being unduly pessimistic here? Are we instead actually looking forward to a future golden age? Or, am I right, and is the past actually a pretty good predictor of the future here…?