Elgin Marbles. 5th century BCE.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, when optimism about technology and space was at an all-time high, a popular conviction arose that by the 2000s robots would have replaced humans to do all sorts of menial labours. This would lift people up, free them from work like scrubbing floors and digging ditches so that they could live in an idealized world eating grapes, wearing space-togas and philosophizing like cartoon Greeks and Romans.
We keep looking for the robots, and in fact they are already here, in the form of computers. When we think of the impact of technology on jobs, we might think of a robot in an auto plant, or an automated bank or grocery cashier. While the impact of technology on the working classes was never a worry for a family like the Jetsons, they would not necessarily like being replaced themselves. GOOD Blog is reporting that that's what's happening. Computers are replacing clerical jobs associated with the middle classes, and the result is the creation of a stratum of the super-rich and a stratum of the super-poor: "The culprit is technology, not politics. The hard truth—and you don't see it addressed in news reports—is that the middle class is disappearing because middle-class skills are becoming obsolete. Routine clerical work and assembly-line production can now be done by computers and robots. Algorithms and machines are replacing customer service agents and even grocery checkout clerks. On the low end of the spectrum, the jobs that are left are the ones robots' bodies can't do yet (grounds-keeping and protective services, for example). On the high end of the spectrum, the jobs that are left are ones that machine brains can't do yet (law and medicine and management). As technology advances, more people near the middle are going to be elbowed out of the workforce. We may not have robot janitors any time soon. But when the science of computer vision advances sufficiently ... we'll have algorithms, not humans, evaluating X-rays at airport security checkpoints and monitoring footage from security cameras." No worries - I'm sure the Jetsons will adapt - somehow.