With two partners, I founded Vision Robotics Corporation over 15 years ago. While very small, we're one of the oldest firms in the world that focuses strictly on machine vision based robotics.
We've seen a great deal of change in those 15+ years.
By far the biggest change is that computers can do more than 10,000 times as much processing per dollar as they could when we founded the company. That means that many of the algorithms and methods for using the information from image sensors that were impossible or extremely hard back then are child's play (for a really smart child!) now. It means that we've gone from vision systems that were vastly inferior to human capabilities to vision systems that often surpass humans' abilities to see and do something with what they see. For example, on our robotics lettuce thinner, the images are streaming by so fast that no human would have any chance of keeping up. Soon, $1,000 worth of parts will build a vision system that surpasses human visual capabilities in nearly every way.
In many other areas, machine intelligence is rapidly catching up to humans. Voice processing such as Apple's Siri may still seem primitive, but consider how far it's come in only a few years and project that forward ten years into the future. Computers will be conversational on most common topics by then.
In fact, in about ten years, $1,000 worth of computer hardware, in real time, will be able to perform as many computations as a human brain. The following graph is taken from an ancient post of mine, and we're still right on track to catch up with human computational capability.
Of course, human computational capability and human intelligence are two very different things. But the latter is probably not possible without the former.
The bottom line is that intelligence is hardly the limiting factor and will most likely not be any factor at all in another decade or two when it comes to automation.
The limiting factor? Hands. Often called "end effectors" in the industry lingo.
We are a few decades away from catching up with the human brain. We are perhaps centuries from competing with the human hand.
If someone could build me an end effector with the characteristics of a human hand for $1,000 or even $10,000, there would be many trillions of dollars worth of robotic and automation applications that would be instantly addressable.
If you want to have unlimited wealth, invent something as effective as the human hand.
Here's a video of a talk I gave not too long ago in which I made this point (towards the end). It's long, so I won't hold it against you if you choose not to watch it. :-)