Baxter and other robots are getting easier to program and use. Traditional manufacturing jobs will increasingly be replaced by robots and only humans with college degrees will work in such places. This could easily lead to the working class being eliminated.
Baxter might not replace Maddie immediately, but it suggests that sooner rather than later, the only people working in factories in rich countries any longer will be those who had the time and money to get college degrees. Consider: a large slice of America’s middle class used to consist of people who had started out working in factories despite having only a high school degree. The machines they worked with were comprehensible enough that people could learn on the job, slowly advancing, perhaps all the way up the ladder into management. That path to a middle-class wage is almost gone—and may finally be eliminated altogether.
The same process is also happening in software. The cloud, big data, and smart computer programs will increasingly do work that humans used to do.