C.G.P. Grey posted this fantastic video on the inevitability of automation, and what it might mean for society at large.
We think of technological change as the fancy new expensive stuff, but the real change comes from last decade's stuff getting cheaper and faster. That's what's happening to robots now. And because their mechanical minds are capable of decision making they are out-competing humans for jobs in a way no pure mechanical muscle ever could.
You may think even the world's smartest automation engineer could never make a bot to do your job -- and you may be right -- but the cutting edge of programming isn't super-smart programmers writing bots it's super-smart programmers writing bots that teach themselves how to do things the programmer could never teach them to do.
via a post by Jason Kottke
For an extra-sobering good time, tie this in with Audrey Watters' writing on robots in education.