funwithBSD, There are several separate issues here. The most basic question is how many hours per person is need to achieve a given level of average material comfort. A simple measure is how many hours per person is spent in farming to keep us fed. Since industrialization this has dropped substantially. Same for making a ton of steel, etc. Nothing wrong with that per se. Except it leads to problem two, the distribution of goods and services. Creating an economic system that provides a fair distribution of the wealth and provides reasonable encouragement of individual contribution has been a problem that has defied effective optimal solutions. I would suggest that indeed most of our mass produced goods, cell phones to jeans are capable of being produced in "dark" automated factories at trivial long term cost. The capital investment to do this will drive to even more standardized parts so those jeans may someday only cost $3, but will only come in one style. Sure you will need more robotics and manufacturing engineers, but millions of sweatshop workers will be unemployed in a traditional economy. While we will have the capacity to meet everybody's material needs how will those goods get distributed if most of the world lacks jobs? Do you let people starve and thus starve the capitalist of customers? Do we start shrinking the human population due to lower birth rates as has started in some industrial countries? Do you divert folks from the work force such as sending them for schooling? Does the service economy grow: how many hair cuts can the world use? Do we grow the government sector? (BTW, larger government sector does really help even out the business cycles) Do we just grow the dole queues? Does the dominance of standardized products create a new demand for unique items that drives a massive itsy like market for handmade custom product: will people pay $1000 for a high status artizen custom handmade belt buckle to go with their standard issue $3 jeans? If you could make and sell two or three of those handmade custom belt buckles a week you could have a good living. Is there some Utopian Star Trek solution just waiting to be invented or implemented?