There will of course be new industries and jobs created in the future, just as there always have been. The question is, will they look like GM and Wal-Mart? Or more like Facebook, which provides a global service to more than a billion people with just 8000 employees? Or WhatsApp, which served 500 million customers with a staff of fewer than 20? And wouldn’t the new industries, funded by the profits generated by smart machines themselves, use those technologies to minimize their costs—including labor?
When smart machines can do most routine work in the economy, the demand for human labor splits into two camps. A small group with the most valued skills and talents—creative, intellectual, entrepreneurial—will earn great rewards. For the remaining jobs that machines can’t do, the qualification will be “being a human,” and the basic rules of supply and demand will drive those wages to the legal minimum.