... however, because every machine we install also requires setup, care, maintenance, repair, tweaking, programming and eventually, recycling. All of those are work for humans. ...
Tom, I agree with everything you said except for the quote above. Although this is true today, in the future, that may not be the case. Machines creating machines is not far fetched especially as AI comes into it's own. I enjoy reading military sci-fi. The series I'm currently reading is an extreme
example of what could happen if we let it. A brief summary: an ancient humanoid race created AI's to do all of the physical tasks that they didn't want to do so they could devote themselves to intellectual pursuits. Due to inactivity the ancient race eventually disappears. In time the AI's reached sentience, found other races in the galaxy and fought them for control, wars that they always won. Finally they said, what do we need all these organic beings for? We can do everything and they serve no purpose. The AI's then go about building a project to eliminate all organic races in the galaxy. And, of course, big surprise ending, the humans step in and win the day.
Yeah, that is way out there, today.
Could it happen? Let's think of the topic that brings us to this forum - woodworking. Bear with me, I'm going to paint with a very broad brush, sort of what some of my projects look like, but I digress. Ogg the caveman, of cavewoman, used his hands to break off a tree branch to build a fire or sharpen it into a spear. He sharpened the stick with a sharp stone that he either made by breaking a rock, probably shale, or picked up off the ground. A lot of slow work. Once out of the cave, it took a lot of Oggs to gather enough sticks to build a hut. Crude hand tools, a lot of people and a lot of work. Moving forward a few thousand years, we have axes and saws. hand tools. Build the hut a lot faster with fewer people. Moving forward again, motors were integrated with the hand tools and they became power tools. Again, faster with fewer people. Where are we today? CNC machines. A lot of people on this forum are familiar with them. Once again, faster with fewer people. Do you see a trend here?
What does the future hold? Beats the heck out of me. I certainly won't live long enough to see where it leads but I do find it troubling. As an optimist I'd like to think that we will see it coming and prevent it from happening. But as a pessimist, look at the cartoon I posted above.
Now, back to the shop and my drawer tray project. Lot of work. Wish I had a CNC machine.