In Making it in America, author Adam Davidson writes in this month’s The Atlantic about the problem of falling factory employment in the U.S. The relationship to Robot Futures is crystal clear- Davidson describes Standard Motor Products as an exemplar microcosm, and in this world a concrete example takes shape in the from of an employee, Maddie, whose job is not yet replaced by a robot because the robot costs $100,000, and that is more than Maddie makes in two years. But as the cost of robotics falls, or if Maddie’s annual cost rises enough, then the cold logic of ROI flips around and one more position permanently disappears thanks to robotic automation. Of course the logic is even more complex than this simplistic analysis- Standard’s customer base has gone from diversity to monoculture, and the new super-customers demand low margins and low cost parts- this puts further pressure on the company to reduce cost, and this will eventually spell further increases in machine productivity and reductions in labor costs. When does this end? I see no natural forces that help cushion the march toward ever-further underemployment of us humans.