Courtesy Reuters

Robotics and World Poverty

By David Martin

Your otherwise balanced package on the potential impact of automation (“Hi, Robot,” July/August 2015) was lacking in one crucial respect: it failed to assess the effect robots might have on the 80 percent of the world’s population who don’t live in rich, developed nations.

History is full of examples of poorer nations that became wealthy by exploiting their comparative advantage in cheap labor to become globally competitive in a range of manufacturing industries. China is the most notable recent example.

If robots are expected to take over many of the menial jobs currently performed by people, the concern should be not for the working class in wealthy countries but for the billions living in the developing world who will now have lost the only established ladder out of poverty.

DAVID MARTIN, Bulungula, South Africa