Industrial robots, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence are rapidly changing the face of global production and trade. Global sales of industrial robots reached a new record of 387,000 units last year and robot adoption is projected to grow in the coming years. Techno-pessimists fear that developing countries might lose the opportunity to export themselves out of poverty by linking into Global Value Chains (GVCs), as firms in rich countries relocate robot-driven production closer to home.
My nephew Reuben was born on December 9, 2017. Reuben is a member of generation Alpha, a cohort that is younger than smartphones, cryptocurrency, and synthetic human cells. Reuben was born in Australia only a few short months after Sophia became the first robot citizen of Saudi Arabia. Reuben will take his first steps in a pair of self-tying shoes to walk into a world of self-driving (maybe even flying!?) cars, digital assistants, and augmented reality.