Thank you for posting this. The future is not going to be won by the country with the cheapest labor, or the country which has the most factories. It also isn’t going to be won by the country with the best service-oriented economy. It will be won by the country which most readily adapts culturally and economically (in terms of the nature of currency, primarily) to the very deep changes occurring in pretty much every aspect of life.
We are heading to a point where marginal costs of production approach zero, where a relatively miniscule amount of man-hours can provide everything that we need. This is, in general, an extremely positive development, that will occur over the next handful of decades. But getting from here to there will require massive change. These changes will not be pleasant, if history serves as any guide.
I find this question fascinating, since it requires questioning almost everything we think we know about society and economics. For example, cities teeming with people made sense when they were the hub of manufacturing. Now, they are archaic ecosystems financed by transfer payments, debt, and the white collar versions of ditch digging and filling (business services whose role is primarily for lobbying, or for adhering to the labyrinth of regulations). Over time, this will change. But not easily and not without serious problems.
And that is just one simple example. The changes over the next few decades will call into question everything from the fractional reserve system, to the purpose of education, to the role of nations themselves.
Hearing people call for the return of “manufacturing” is somewhat akin to calling for the return to a life in the trees. When the old system dies, as it is in the process of doing, it will be replaced by something fundamentally unrecognizable. The only question now involves the somewhat painful path from a to b.
Point B is the foodstamp lifestyle, which already dominates the low end of the IQ spectrum and is working its way up. Most everyone will become a human pet eventually. Idle hands are the devil's workshop so expect more violence and strife. Militaries are also automating, with the "cutting edge" of robotics. A side effect is wars are more likely. There is little political cost for robot losses.