International competition after automation

Today we figure that production of goods is a highly competitive business, especially in cost of production. Most people are familiar with the offshoring / outsourcing trend over the past 40+ years. Many people are also aware of the progression of low cost providers: the initial outsource provider was Japan; after that Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, China. As these countries themselves develop stronger economies, their wages increase and they in turn outsource to neighboring (& cheaper) providers.

Note that the biggest impact in cost of production in these countries is labor, both directly and indirectly. But what happens under an automated and robotic workforce, where labor is a one-off cost rather than an ongoing expense?

One possibility is hyper-localization. Local factories (really just resource storage facilities) where robots can process or create a large number of products. Given unlimited expertise at a fixed, one-off cost – why can’t that happen in your city, or even in your neighborhood?

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