Will the development of robotics be pulled in different directions by the following scenarios, all playing out in the future? If so, which scenario will eventually dominate?

State-sponsored virtual colonialism

One or more visionary nations recognise the dangers of their citizens being reliant on trans-national intelligent networks with remote peripherals (robotic applications).

The State invests heavily in federal intelligent networks and exploits such networks to ensure its citizens prosper i.e. disproportionately reap the benefits in future global trade. The networks are designed to preserve the power of the State, even over the power of the network users. National strength usurps the progress of global governance institutions.

As an aside, the US commitment to massive annual defense spending, (fuelling at least some of its $17T Debt) might provide suitable momentum for significant investment in a federal intelligent network, par excellence.

Rise of the entrepreneur

As technological progress changes economic variables and erodes multi-national corporate power, job growth comes from people everywhere using technology to embrace and exploit advanced technologies in diverse ways.

Entrepreneurs and their robotic systems innovate and compete against other entrepreneurs and their robotic systems, regardless of country of residence, perhaps using one open-access intelligent network. The network dominates any State or proprietary networks operating internationally.

The entrepreneurs affiliate with global communities of interest, to some extent reinforced by global governance institutions.

A world of corporate clubs

Multi-national corporates exploit technology to place increasingly more wealth in the hands of their specific shareholders. The corporates control the development and deployment of technology to influence individual or regional government policies to their advantage. Innovation becomes mostly proprietary intellectual property.

People increasingly rely on corporate brands to run their lives, job or no job. National and global governance institutions influence the non commercial aspects of people’s lives.

See also http://www.kurzweilai.net/humanity-in-jeopardy by Prof Max Tegmark of MIT for an interesting presentation of future possibilities.