Cardiff Garcia at FTAlphaville just posted a commentary worth reading, “The History of the Robot Future’s Future History,” about shrinking U.S. middle class employment levels. The article is a good analysis of why we have so much uncertainty about just how automation will change the dynamics of employment, and why hearkening to industrial revolution trends is both misinformed and incapable of helping us future fact from science fiction. When you look at the Figure 2 job categories, notice that the ones increasing in employment levels include “Technician” and “Food preparation.” This is worth a look because robotic automation doesn’t simply make operation and production ever more automation-efficient, furthering humans from useful large-scale roles there; robotics also extends the leading edge of just what activities robots can outcompete humans on in terms of cost and ROI. Technician and food preparation activities are examples where the leading edge will change the power relationship between robots and humans as robots achieve greater competency in reasoning, computer vision and manipulation. That is coming, like it or not. Well worth a read.