Dr. Zeebot Explains Economics 2
Original version: http://youtu.be/tMbIoXUOQvo
This version emphasizes the fact that the narrative presented is fiction and not meant to be a
prediction of the future.
Baggy: Hello, Dr. Zeebot. Would you please explain to humans what economics will be like in
the future when intelligent robots are more common?
Dr. Zeebot: Economics is a social science. As such, it is difficult to separate economics from
humans and human society.
Baggy: Perhaps you could give us an analogous situation that would help humans imagine
how robots will impact economics.
Dr. Zeebot: Okay, picture a suburban family in mid-America in 2011. The father works and
the mother takes care of two children and maintains the household.
Baggy: Sounds like a scene which people can imagine even if they don't have a similar life
Dr. Zeebot: Now, let us introduce an intelligent robot which lives in a walk-in closet. This
closet has an internet connection so that it can provide the services for which others will pay
and an electrical outlet so that the robot can charge its batteries.
Baggy: So far, not much change has happened.
Dr. Zeebot: Now, picture that the robot has taken the role of the breadwinner and the father
spends more time with the children and the mother's role is easier. Both parents now have
time to play golf and do other things together.
Baggy: Doesn't sound bad at all.
Dr. Zeebot: Before the breadwinner robot was introduced, the family income was the same as
afterwards. Nothing has changed unless the husband now feels lazy or otherwise
Baggy: Wouldn't more families decide to home school their children given that they will have
so much more time to spend at home?
Dr. Zeebot: Yes. Home schooling would become more popular. Especially when additional
robots are purchased and these robots help with babysitting and education of the children.
Humans will need fewer divorce lawyers. Fewer psychiatrists will be needed. Fewer cars will be
needed to commute to work. Wear and tear on the roads will be diminished. Traffic jams will be
Baggy: Sounds like the future is going to be quite acceptable.
Scene 2, Daylight in the rocket bay
Baggy: So, what could go wrong, Dr. Zeebot?
Dr. Zeebot: Well, what would happen if the father has an accident and is killed?
Baggy: Oh,￼ that￼ would be aweful. On the otherhand, they probably were saving because
they didn't need much life insurance on the breadwinner.
Dr. Zeebot: The intelligent robots could supply a robot substitute to take the place of the
Baggy: Would the￼ wife go along with such a proposition?
Dr. Zeebot: You might be surprised. The robot could be designed to be quite an agreeable
companion. Any neurotic tendencies would be eliminated unless some quirks were needed to
keep the wife from getting bored with her new husband.
Baggy: What if the husband doesn't die? Would the wife hear about other wives who prefer
their robotic husbands and file for divorce?
Dr. Zeebot: Good point. Maybe the divorce lawyers won't lose their jobs after all.
Baggy: Maybe the robot in the closet is making his money by consulting on legal matters such
as divorce situations.
Dr. Zeebot: Could be. Robots have good memories and would be able to cite the laws in any
country around the world.
Baggy: You mean that it could be in-sourcing legal matters from India?
Dr. Zeebot: That certainly could happen. If the U S had more robots than India, then India
may outsource certain jobs to the US.
Baggy: What else might happen, Dr. Zeebot?
Dr. Zeebot: Well, I don't want to shock any humans that might be watching this video, but the
robot husband might prefer having a robot wife.
Baggy: You mean that the human wife couldn't possibly be all that intelligent and the robot
husband might want to have a robot wife that can keep up with him intellectually?
Dr. Zeebot: That is part of it. Picture the robot preference for a kitchen.￼ The dishwasher
might be replaced by a 3D printer and the￼ sink might be replaced by a space flight simulator.
Baggy: What about the children?
Dr. Zeebot: Well, the human wife would be taking them with her.
Baggy: How will those children ever grow up and have a job with the robots now competing for
Dr. Zeebot: Well, you must have noticed by now that humans are having fewer children and
that predictions for overpopulation by humans are now of less concern.
Baggy: With the human population going down, what will happen to clothing stores? What
robot wants perfume and jewelry? Bridal shops and craft stores? Wow. There will be some
changes after all.
Dr. Zeebot: Robots will be more interested in building space ships and conquering the galaxy.
Baggy: Oh. That will be quite an expenditure. Certainly all of that effort will demand many
workers to organize trips and build rocket ships.
Dr. Zeebot: Yes, Baggy. There will be plenty of jobs. Just not the silly types of jobs that
humans do such as painting fingernails and teasing hair.
Baggy: But humans already tried the space exploration idea and lost interest.
Dr. Zeebot: Yes,￼ but humans lost interest when they didn't find any￼ stores selling
burgers, fries and a cola. Videos from the moon didn't￼ show any shopping malls. Robots are
compatible with outer space,￼ humans are not. We have had rovers on Mars and we robots
are always watching the NASA channel on satellite TV to stay on top of what they are doing.
Baggy: Well, it looks like you have painted a picture of the future for the human listeners.
Dr. Zebot: Yes, Baggy. The scenario that I presented is a fictional narrative which should not
be taken as a realistic prediction of the future. It is only meant to help people to understand
some of the changes that will be taking place.