Environmentalists are notoriously pessimistic. They confidently claim, “We consume too much, there are too many people, capitalism destroys nature…”. I disagree. Over the past few years, I have become increasingly optimistic about our chances at not only survival, but prospering.
I recently read an article about the automation of warehouses for major companies. Intelligent robots run around the wharehouse and fill orders that have been entered over a company’s website. An order that used to take over 3 hours to fill, now takes 12 minutes! Think about that. There are less humans involved, and the ones that are have an easier and less dangerous job. See the video below.
In addition to removing human needs, the use of automation allows for a dramatic reduction in energy consumption. Robots do not need lights, heat, or rest – think about the efficiency of this. With increasing automation at both the production and distribution level, we can continue to break the Malthusian cycle of resource restriction.
Let me sketch out a possible future: Lettuce, Tomatoes and other plants are planted and harvested by robots, then placed in a storage facility, when the supermarket goes low on stock it automatically issues an order to the warehouse (already happening at Wal-Mart), the order is filled by a robot at the warehouse (see video), placed in a truck that is automatically driven to the supermarket, another robot restocks the shelf and all these devices (including the vegetables) are powered by the sun. What in that process is not technically possible?
Soon, we will all be sitting around sipping martinis in lush, rich natural environments while robots do our work. Today we laugh at the idea of living in a cave, 25 year life-spans and no medicine; one day, not so far from now, we will look back and ourselves and say, how did we ever live like that?