Whereas in the past people whose jobs were automated had an opportunity to retrain, now machine learning has the potential to hit all industries. Moreover, robots can adopt a variety of guises, often far removed from the familiar humanoid image found in the movies. One development trend in robotics is the construction of soft, plastic, polymer-based robots: artificial “muscles” are able to contract like the extremities of an octopus. Without bones or other rigid elements, such robots can change size and shape, stretch and twist in different directions, and wrap around objects and people without harming them.
Robotization will affect the economy at all levels, liberating humans from the most tedious, monotonous tasks, such as walking around warehouses, searching high and low for goods on shelves, cleaning office premises, sowing seeds and harvesting, providing individual banking services, issuing prescription drugs, etc. Meanwhile, exoskeletons will expand people’s physical capabilities—from everyday life, where the disabled will be able to move without the aid of a wheelchair, to space exploration and defense, where soldiers in “mechanical suits” will be practically indestructible.