Is mining a bellwether for automation’s impact on employment?

robot1In the next decade, the mining industry may lose more than half of its jobs to automation, according to a new report. That’s not based on future technologies, but on automated equipment being deployed today.

The mining industry is primed for automation. It’s capital intensive, buys expensive equipment and pays relatively well.

This industry is adopting self-driving trucks, automated loaders and automated drilling and tunnel-boring systems. It is also testing fully autonomous long-distance trains, which carry materials from the mine to a port, according to the report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg, Canada.

A broader question is whether mining is a bellwether for other industries. There’s no clear answer, but what Aaron Cosbey, a development economist with the institute and a report author, can say is this: “Where you can find robotic replacements for human labor you tend to do it.”

Robotics, driverless tech are taking over mining jobs

 

technological unemployment.

“For most people, a secure, well-paid job is the difference between a reasonable life and penury. Today, changes in the structure of the work force driven by globalization and technology make this objective increasingly elusive.

Technology has exacerbated declines in employment and incomes by eliminating tasks and “de-skilling” many jobs.

Robotics and complex computerized equipment has successfully replaced skilled labor. Computer software is now replacing journalists, synthesizing news items electronically by crawling the internet. Even traders in financial markets are being replaced by automated algorithms.”

Workers will simply try to survive, rather than prosper, as tech takes over the economy