We continue to take humans out of our transactions, replacing gas jockeys and cashiers and totemen with machines. I think this suits our society’s increasingly narcissistic and neurotic nature, a nature that would rather see the individual as the center of the universe, not having to bother with other people. Pop in your ipod, slip your credit card into the gas pump, and head out on the freeway.

Anyway, I wonder whether or not in my lifetime we will ever have a product or service that is supplied completely by machines. That seemed to be the vision of futurists in the first half of the 20th century. As we continued to refine time- and labor-saving technologies, we would happen upon an age where men sat around and were served by machines. This would mean that men would no longer have to toil away at farming, manufacturing, etc., and would instead be free to pursue the life of the mind.

(And, since not all people are best disposed by nature to pursue the life of the mind, one wonders whether Asimov and Co. imagined this world filled with servant robots simultaneously devoid of the mentally and genetically “unfit” and, if so, then how.)

I predict that, no, there will never be truly “processed” goods in my lifetime. I suspect that there will always be some human directly involved in either making, growing, cooking, transporting, or selling me the stuff I need.

But, I still worry that too many people have been cut out of the process already.