When our robot overlords take our jobs, what then?

It often seems as though someday being unemployed won’t be unusual. Those who have jobs will be the ones who are unique.

This seems particularly true in the manufacturing business, where robots and technology are replacing humans, who will be left to do … what, exactly?

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader, as part of a series on how automation is changing the economy, profiles a cabinet company maker who hasn’t yet replaced his humans because, he says, people want cabinets that look like they’re made by humans, not machines.

That may be a soon-archaic way of looking at things, if some experts are right.

“You might replace 10 people with six or seven workers who are younger, maybe more agile and not so ingrained in the traditional mindset that existed with their predecessors,” (Matthew Miller, assistant professor of computer science at Dakota State University in Madison) said. “I would think there would be fewer people needed to do some of the jobs. Now whether or not those people stop working, I don’t know. They might end up retooling and doing something else with their lives. It’s really hard to predict.”

That retooling and shifting of employees might work for a time, Ford said. But he sees a day in the not-so-distant future when automation becomes more ingrained and the opportunity to shift diminishes greatly.

“I don’t dispute what they’re saying about moving people into other jobs,” he said. “My question is, ‘Do you expect that opportunity will persist?’ ”

And that’s the current question: What do you do with people when they’re no longer any use?