The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

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The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby mr friendly guy » 2017-06-09 12:26am


Scary thought in some ways. Its not immigrants taking muh job, its machines.
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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-06-09 02:27pm

And this issue of automation taking jobs, above all, is why I consider Basic Income the single most important economic policy issue of our time.

Because otherwise, we are very likely looking at a situation where there will be perpetual high unemployment simply because there are not enough jobs to be had. And telling those unemployed people that they're just lazy parasites who need to get a job isn't going to go over well, especially because there will be no jobs to be had.

This is the kind of situation that leads to revolutions.

Oh, the Usual Suspects will try (as they already are) to scape goat those dirty foreigners and minorities, and they may even succeed (at great cost in human misery and death) for a while. But that argument won't hold water forever.

Sooner or later, we're likely either going to have to pass laws heavily restricting the replacement of jobs with machines (and thus stifling technological innovation), or implement some form of basic income.
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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-06-09 07:57pm

Another issue is that as the total number of jobs shrink, the kind of people most likely to be forced out of the job market change.

Consider a guy with an IQ of 70 who can't read above a third grade level and doesn't read unless you hold a gun to his head.

In 1915, you could take and hire him to dig ditches, because if he manages to chop off his own foot with a shovel it's not really your problem. If there's nothing glaringly wrong with him, he'll do well enough, and your foreman has de facto if not de jure power to beat him into submission if he makes trouble due to his mental deficiencies.

In 1965, the ditch-diggers had mostly been replaced by machinery, but there were still jobs for guys like that. Not operating heavy machinery because a guy like that WILL cause horrible accidents. But he can (hopefully) manage certain aspects of retail. He can (probably) cook in a low-end restaurant. He could, say, work in a laundry or something.

In 2015, these jobs are starting to disappear. Tolerances are more precise, so most jobs involving physical products require higher standards of conscientiousness, intelligence, preparation, and so on. Even for things that sound like a moron could do them... if they involve contact with customers you have a problem. Because nowadays, stuff goes viral. So the IQ 70 retail worker blowing up at a customer or spitting on someone's food at a Burger Fool or losing control of himself and masturbating on someone's underwear at the laundry becomes a problem that costs your business far more money than his labor could ever profit you if he worked for centuries.

Why wouldn't you hire someone who is more intelligent, more conscientious, more capable of long-term planning and therefore less impulsive? There are college graduates out there who are unemployed or underemployed, why wouldn't you hire one? Or someone who at least completed a year or two of college and can therefore be said to have at least passed a higher institution's entrance requirements- a big deal when increasingly they hand out high school diplomas like they were toilet paper?

This trend is likely to get more pronounced over time. The marginal advantage of a low-competence worker's labor, per hour, will remain relatively lower, and there will be less and less reason to hire them.

So the unemployment ends up being concentrated most among the people who are most likely to cause crime and chaos if un-employed and incapable of supporting themselves with meaningful work.

[This is not to say there are no intelligent, capable people out there losing their jobs to automation. It's simply that in any game of musical chairs, the people most poorly equipped to find new chairs in a hurry will be the losers earliest in any given game]
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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby mr friendly guy » 2017-06-10 07:27am

Simon_Jester wrote:Why wouldn't you hire someone who is more intelligent, more conscientious, more capable of long-term planning and therefore less impulsive? There are college graduates out there who are unemployed or underemployed, why wouldn't you hire one? Or someone who at least completed a year or two of college and can therefore be said to have at least passed a higher institution's entrance requirements- a big deal when increasingly they hand out high school diplomas like they were toilet paper?

Can you explain what level of say maths, science and history you're required to get a high school diploma in the US. Its just that I have encountered people online, who presumably are adults who do not understand things like basic science, scientific method, broad history like the industrial revolution, or high school (at least Australian standards) maths, such as exponential growth and logarithms. I had always thought they were just dumbasses who didn't pay attention at school, but after seeing what you wrote I am wondering whether there is more to it.
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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby Imperial528 » 2017-06-10 02:28pm

From my experience most high school students stop taking math at algebra or trigonometry. My high school taught up to calculus, though not at the same level as a college or university would.

The problem is that the vast majority of schools in the US are not good at teaching to understanding or at least retention of the material. Many schools also do not teach at as high a level as one would expect for the age of the students involved.

This is becoming an issue with colleges because now many students spend their first year or so just relearning material they should know from high school, while they should be spending that time on the more advanced levels of those basic subjects, as necessary for their area of study.

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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby madd0ct0r » 2017-06-11 05:33am

Simon_Jester wrote:Another issue is that as the total number of jobs shrink, the kind of people most likely to be forced out of the job market change.

Consider a guy with an IQ of 70 who can't read above a third grade level and doesn't read unless you hold a gun to his head.



Nah Simon, you're behind the times. What you describe has already happened. In the UK, you need to pass a safety course (CSCS) to even start work on construction sites as a labourer swinging a broom and sledgehammer. There will always be a role for people at smaller companies because of how flexible people are and how fast they switch between tiny batch work - the kinda workshop that makes 500 steel brackets for lorrries, then 1000 mini aluminium heatsink mounts, then punches 7000 holes in a flat stainless sheet for an architecual wrap.

But this wave of automation, it's not about psyical force and precision. It's about data. A lot of nice middle class managing jobs rely on taking a wide mix of data and making sensible decisions and reductions of it - legal researchers for one. Finacial crime for another. In engineering, there's a serious disscussion going on about the first five years of the job. That's the bit between masters degree and becoming a competatn engineer, where you learn, make mistakes, do basic analysis and develop an instinctive feeling for forces and the ability to then put precision to instinctive responses.
Automation looks set to eat that five year period. We still need senior engineers to manage the process and do the optionieering before detailed design and sense check the results afterward, but the junior engineers are superfulous. The question is, withou those five years, how are we going to train people to senior engineer status?
People pulling cranks on a black boxe that they don't really understand is fucking terrifying for engineers, and we're already inching down that path.
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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-06-11 08:23pm

mr friendly guy wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:Why wouldn't you hire someone who is more intelligent, more conscientious, more capable of long-term planning and therefore less impulsive? There are college graduates out there who are unemployed or underemployed, why wouldn't you hire one? Or someone who at least completed a year or two of college and can therefore be said to have at least passed a higher institution's entrance requirements- a big deal when increasingly they hand out high school diplomas like they were toilet paper?

Can you explain what level of say maths, science and history you're required to get a high school diploma in the US. Its just that I have encountered people online, who presumably are adults who do not understand things like basic science, scientific method, broad history like the industrial revolution, or high school (at least Australian standards) maths, such as exponential growth and logarithms. I had always thought they were just dumbasses who didn't pay attention at school, but after seeing what you wrote I am wondering whether there is more to it.
Oh, someone who actually pays attention in all the relevant courses and retains the relevant material WILL understand all the things you've listed, except maybe logarithms which seem to give some people inexplicable headaches and cause their brain to shut down. Logarithms are just one of those fundamental 'barrier' concepts in math, I've come to believe; some people never get past them and have to work around the idea or just shut up and memorize how to cope.

The real problem is that the de facto requirement does not align with the de jure requirement. In pursuit of higher graduation rates, we've devalued the diploma. We've wrapped ourselves about with so many layers of makeup work and social promotion and weird after-school programs for making up your failed classes with computer classes where it's trivially easy to cheat and get a more competent friend (or website) to do the work for you.

Everything you just listed IS covered in courses that are part of a standard US high school curriculum (e.g. the Common Core State Standards). It's just that it's entirely possible to get the diploma without really learning any of it in a permanent, stable fashion. And especially in low-income demographics, the students know that, because their own older siblings and cousins were able to graduate from high school pig-ignorant. And all but the stupidest and most obstreperous of them have diplomas.

We'd have much higher levels of "students know the relevant knowledge" if the students were motivated to retain the knowledge by the fact that they actually for serious won't graduate if they do not demonstrate the knowledge.

Imperial528 wrote:From my experience most high school students stop taking math at algebra or trigonometry. My high school taught up to calculus, though not at the same level as a college or university would.

The problem is that the vast majority of schools in the US are not good at teaching to understanding or at least retention of the material. Many schools also do not teach at as high a level as one would expect for the age of the students involved.
We can't, because of the core underlying reality that our students are getting shoveled up to the next grade level whether we like it or not. No one draws a line in the sand and says "you must be this educated to enter high school." Which means that we have a large number of students who have 7th or 8th grade levels of knowledge entering high school, and think this is normal because they're surrounded by and socialize with other people who have the same problem.

It's not that hard to wind up with a student who reads and calculates at a 7th grade level upon entering high school. It just means they were only learning about 80% as fast as they were supposed to. Throw in enough low teacher retention and disruptive classmates and that is exactly what you get.

But when you 'inherit' a student who's one or two years behind grade level... what do you do? You can't say "I'm sorry, you need to take remedial courses" because the system is institutionally allergic to saying that. So you end up having to teach basic algebra to students who don't understand fractions and decimals and and aren't accustomed to organizing and extracting information from text. And teaching basic trigonometry to students who don't remember algebra, and advanced trigonometry to students who didn't understand basic trigonometry because they didn't remember how to do algebra when it was taught because they tuned out of their Algebra 1 lessons as soon as the teacher started using yucky word problems and scary fractions.

It all snowballs and you can end up with a student who is catastrophically ignorant and who has virtually no ability to apply even the (surprisingly large) sample of a high school education that they do in some sense 'know.'

So we end up exporting responsibility for telling the kids with bad educations "I'm sorry, your education is not good enough, you must be this tall to enter and you ain't this tall, go take three years of remedial courses" to the colleges.

This is becoming an issue with colleges because now many students spend their first year or so just relearning material they should know from high school, while they should be spending that time on the more advanced levels of those basic subjects, as necessary for their area of study.
See my last paragraph. By pushing for a 100% graduation rate, pushing down teacher working conditions, and reducing or eliminating our ability to deal with disruptive students by removing them from the institution, American secondary education has gotten sucked into a system where ONLY the colleges are capable of handling remediation properly. And where ONLY colleges are institutionally capable of accurately reacting to the level of skill and knowledge students actually possess, as opposed to the level we're supposed to pretend they would possess under ideal circumstances.

Because no one votes the president of a university out of office for saying that students have to have a four-digit score on the SAT to enter their institution. Or for saying that students who can't write an essay have to take English 090 through 099 over and over until they learn how.

madd0ct0r wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:Another issue is that as the total number of jobs shrink, the kind of people most likely to be forced out of the job market change.

Consider a guy with an IQ of 70 who can't read above a third grade level and doesn't read unless you hold a gun to his head.
Nah Simon, you're behind the times. What you describe has already happened. In the UK, you need to pass a safety course (CSCS) to even start work on construction sites as a labourer swinging a broom and sledgehammer...
This I'm aware of- but I wanted to pick the most obvious cases.

Statistically speaking, unemployment in Western countries that aren't in the worst shape is something like 10%. Something like that.

Now, IQ has a roughly Gaussian distribution with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15. About 2.2% of the population has an IQ of 70 or below; about 15.8% of the population has an IQ of 85 or below. For the sake of argument, we use IQ as a proxy for a whole cluster of related 'employability' traits like conscientiousness, low impulsiveness, ability to follow complex directions, ability to predict the consequences of actions, and so on.

With unemployment at around 10%, we'd expect it to be nearly impossible for someone with an IQ of 70 to find a job, simply because no one wants to hire them when they can find someone who isn't the dimmest bulb in a randomly selected box of fifty. At the same time, we'd expect it to be at least marginally possible for someone with an IQ of 85 to find a job, with difficulty.

In real life IQ isn't the only thing that matters, which smears things out a little... but I'd still expect IQs of 80 or below to be vastly, vastly overrepresented among the permanently unemployed.

The trouble is, and this is what I was getting at, these are exactly the sort of people who become maximally disruptive when you squeeze them out of the workplace. Or even when you expect them to live calm, orderly lives on public assistance (that requires them to fill out paperwork they don't read and follow laws they don't have the curiosity to investigate) in various forms of organized, publicly supported homes.

What happens when the population of <80 IQs is joined by the considerably larger slice of IQs between 80 and 90? 90 and 100? Part of the problem is going to be not just how many people have been screwed by the system, but what kind and how they react to it.






But this wave of automation, it's not about psyical force and precision. It's about data. A lot of nice middle class managing jobs rely on taking a wide mix of data and making sensible decisions and reductions of it - legal researchers for one. Finacial crime for another. In engineering, there's a serious disscussion going on about the first five years of the job. That's the bit between masters degree and becoming a competatn engineer, where you learn, make mistakes, do basic analysis and develop an instinctive feeling for forces and the ability to then put precision to instinctive responses.
Automation looks set to eat that five year period. We still need senior engineers to manage the process and do the optionieering before detailed design and sense check the results afterward, but the junior engineers are superfulous. The question is, withou those five years, how are we going to train people to senior engineer status?
People pulling cranks on a black boxe that they don't really understand is fucking terrifying for engineers, and we're already inching down that path.[/quote]
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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby madd0ct0r » 2017-06-12 04:06pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
Nah Simon, you're behind the times. What you describe has already happened. In the UK, you need to pass a safety course (CSCS) to even start work on construction sites as a labourer swinging a broom and sledgehammer...
This I'm aware of- but I wanted to pick the most obvious cases.

Statistically speaking, unemployment in Western countries that aren't in the worst shape is something like 10%. Something like that.

Now, IQ has a roughly Gaussian distribution with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15. About 2.2% of the population has an IQ of 70 or below; about 15.8% of the population has an IQ of 85 or below. For the sake of argument, we use IQ as a proxy for a whole cluster of related 'employability' traits like conscientiousness, low impulsiveness, ability to follow complex directions, ability to predict the consequences of actions, and so on.

With unemployment at around 10%, we'd expect it to be nearly impossible for someone with an IQ of 70 to find a job, simply because no one wants to hire them when they can find someone who isn't the dimmest bulb in a randomly selected box of fifty. At the same time, we'd expect it to be at least marginally possible for someone with an IQ of 85 to find a job, with difficulty.

In real life IQ isn't the only thing that matters, which smears things out a little... but I'd still expect IQs of 80 or below to be vastly, vastly overrepresented among the permanently unemployed.

The trouble is, and this is what I was getting at, these are exactly the sort of people who become maximally disruptive when you squeeze them out of the workplace. Or even when you expect them to live calm, orderly lives on public assistance (that requires them to fill out paperwork they don't read and follow laws they don't have the curiosity to investigate) in various forms of organized, publicly supported homes.

What happens when the population of <80 IQs is joined by the considerably larger slice of IQs between 80 and 90? 90 and 100? Part of the problem is going to be not just how many people have been screwed by the system, but what kind and how they react to it.



BUT, and here's my point, the waves of autmation won't neccesaily work up the IQ scale in a nice neat line. And the waves will be too fast for the 150IQ guy who's lost his job to replace someone at thier IQ 100 job who forces someone out of the IQ75 job. The IQ150 guy might be unemployed again before the first ripple reaches bottom. The kind of difficult, abstract infomation processing job I'm talking about isn't the one you are.

and angry withdrawn clever people with nothing to loose scare me more than thugs.
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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-06-12 05:47pm

I'm going to be honest, in terms of the amount of chaos caused, I'm a lot more worried about ten thugs with nothing to lose than one genius with nothing to lose. Geniuses tend to try and figure out ways to solve their problems without hurting other people. It is actually quite rare for high intelligence to express itself through a calculated desire to cause random, counterproductive destruction; mad scientists happen more often in the comic books.

I mean, you're not wrong that automation is going to displace jobs in a nonlinear way. My point is, there's going to come a point at which the total number of jobs in the country is roughly enough to keep 2/3 of the population employed, at which point very few people more than one standard deviation below the mean in employability can find a job at all. Sure, there will be people near the mean or even above it who lack jobs through bad luck, but they will be fewer in number and more likely to find SOME way to make ends meet.

That's disproportionately going to affect the people who are, on the whole, the least stable and least likely to channel their reaction to our problems productively. This may actually be part of what's going on in the rise of right-wing political figures like Trumpolini. Part of what made him distinct from other Republican candidates was that he was exceptionally good at appealing to IQ 85 voters who can see the wave coming and don't understand how it happened, as opposed to just trying to push all the same buttons that worked when the wave was more distant.
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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby K. A. Pital » 2017-06-19 12:43pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Geniuses tend to try and figure out ways to solve their problems without hurting other people.

A lofty view. But justified by... what exactly?

If anything, the geniuses of our age are perfectly content with throwing people under the bus by creating a corporate ruled world of powerful machines and disempowered people. Many of the geniuses of the previous age were politically active, and in movements which had a fair share of blood on their hands.

And if ten thugs with nothing to lose find even a mediocre mind - not to say Walther White, heh - to lead them, their dangerousness will be graetly amplified.
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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-06-19 01:56pm

Firstly, you missed my point; I said counterproductive destruction.

Highly intelligent people generally do not become nihilistic madmen out to destroy as much of the world as possible. This is unsurprising, because higher intelligence makes it easier to identify the specific parts of the world one objects to, and target them directly.

If very intelligent people decide society has nothing to offer them, they are far more likely to try to fix society than to blow it all up. This is not because they are inherently better people as such, it is simply because it's easier to do the right thing when you're smart enough to figure out what the right thing is.

Stupid people, on the other hand, generally will not understand what is threatening them, and will lash out randomly or in counterproductive ways.

...

I am not that concerned about what happens if a host of IQ 130 types find themselves unable to find work and trying to change society; the outcome is likely to be not-that-bad compared to what is actually happening.

I am far more concerned about what happens if a larger host of IQ 85 types find themselves unable to find work and trying to change society, because many of them will think it's a good idea to vote for Trump because he struts convincingly and yells about being "anti-establishment."
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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby Juubi Karakuchi » 2017-06-19 06:14pm

I suppose it comes down to your definition of 'fix'.

Peter Turchin put forward a buzz term for what Pital is describing a few years back; he called it 'elite overproduction'. We are producing ungodly numbers of highly educated and capable young people, but there just aren't enough jobs for them to do; at least not at the level their education and training have prepared them for. Ironically, some of these unfortunates are actually part of the wealthy elite. Turchin specifically refers to wealthy Americans trying to get high-level political jobs, but there just aren't enough to go round. This leads to more infighting within the elite, with the factions undermining the wider system in their struggle for power. Turchin actually raises it as a factor in the American Civil War, with large numbers of wealthy young northerners locked out of top jobs by wealthy southerners. The northerners resented the southerners and sought to supplant them, while the southerners struggled to keep them out. This caused political infighting over other issues (notably slavery, tariffs, and immigration) to spiral out of control.

What we have now is an ever-growing educated elite who cannot find elite jobs, or even half-decent jobs they hate but pay enough to make up for it. They might not mutate into mad scientists and try to wipe out the world, but they will attempt to redress their grievances through political or economic means. This can manifest as voting for the likes of Brexit or Donald Trump, as a means of shaking up the system and potentially creating opportunities. One could even argue that the activities of Tesla or Uber are a part of this tendency; outsiders starting businesses and developing new technology in order to make money, heedless of the potential ill-effects on society.

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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby K. A. Pital » 2017-06-23 04:58pm

Yes. Overeducation is also a problem. We have the devaluation of education as consequence (no university degree? you can't be a clerk - nonsense, but true), and people starting to think education is bullshit alltogether.

Somewhere down the line it will blow up.
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Re: The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time

Postby Elheru Aran » 2017-06-24 04:13pm

This was recently shared on FB via Surlethe and Ace Pace:

How Just 14 People make 500K Tons of Steel a Year in Austria

The Austrian village of Donawitz has been an iron-smelting center since the 1400s, when ore was dug from mines carved out of the snow-capped peaks nearby. Over the centuries, Donawitz developed into the Hapsburg Empire’s steel-production hub, and by the early 1900s it was home to Europe’s largest mill. With the opening of Voestalpine AG’s new rolling mill this year, the industry appears secure. What’s less certain are the jobs.

The plant, a two-hour drive southwest of Vienna, will need just 14 employees to make 500,000 tons of robust steel wire a year—vs. as many as 1,000 in a mill with similar capacity built in the 1960s. Inside the facility, red-hot metal snakes its way along a 700-meter (2,297-foot) production line. Yet the floors are spotless, the only noise is a gentle hum that wouldn’t overwhelm a quiet conversation, and most of the time the place is deserted except for three technicians who sit high above the line, monitoring output on a bank of flatscreens. “We have to forget steel as a core employer,” says Wolfgang Eder, Voestalpine’s chief executive officer for the past 13 years. “In the long run we will lose most of the classic blue-collar workers, people doing the hot and dirty jobs in coking plants or around the blast furnaces. This will all be automated.”

Voestalpine long ago decided it couldn’t compete on bulk steel with titans such as Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, Japan’s Nippon Steel, or South Korea’s Posco, let alone hundreds of low-cost Chinese furnaces. Management instead went for high-value niche products such as the wire made in Donawitz, which have kept Voestalpine profitable. But the shift has had a big effect on the number and kinds of jobs the company creates: An increasing share of workers are white-collar technicians—like the trio of controllers in Donawitz—rather than the coal shovelers of yore.

The change comes as steel’s political significance is rising. France and the U.K. have considered nationalizing plants to stop closures, while Donald Trump has focused on steel as a symbol of U.S. industrial might and a source of well-paying blue-collar jobs. People in the industry say that’s a simplistic view. Steel “will create employment, but it will not be creating the numbers that many governments hope for,” says Edwin Basson, director general of the World Steel Association. “There’s a long way to go for this message to be adopted everywhere. We are fighting against historical experience and perception.”

Over the past 20 years, the number of worker-hours needed to make a ton of steel industrywide has fallen from 700 to 250, as new control processes and innovations such as casting steel closer to the shape of the finished product have improved productivity, according to the World Steel Association. From 2008 through 2015, Europe’s steel workforce shrank by almost 84,000 jobs—about 20 percent—to 320,000. Voestalpine’s Eder predicts employment in the sector could decline another 20 percent over the coming decade. “The industry will need less and less unskilled workers,” he says in his office at Voestalpine’s Linz headquarters, 110 miles north of Donawitz.

The Donawitz mill, in a narrow valley flanked by lush green pastures filled with dairy cows, stands in stark contrast to the medieval churches and castles clinging to the rocky cliffs nearby. Alongside a small creek on the valley floor, the €100 million ($111 million) plant turns 3-ton beams of steel forged in Voestalpine’s blast furnaces next door into thick wire used to make components such as shock absorbers and piston cases in BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi factories across the border in Germany. While about 300 other workers in Donawitz carry out support roles such as shipping logistics and running the internal rail system, the rolling mill itself will be operated by just over a dozen people.

The three technicians sitting in what’s called the “pulpit”—a structure like a ship’s bridge high above the plant floor—mostly play a monitoring role, watching for warning signs such as spikes in temperature or pressure. The former line workers spent three months training for their new jobs, studying control systems and working in a simulated pulpit learning how to interpret the data. The other employees maintain equipment or retool the plant for various wire gauges—hundreds of variations ranging from 4.5 millimeters to 60 millimeters.

Within three years, the company aims to open a fully automated plant in Kapfenberg, a half-hour’s drive down the valley from Donawitz, that will supply high-tech airplane components such as stress-resistant engine mounts and landing gear parts. Although the details are still uncertain, automating the plant—which currently employs 2,500 people—could dramatically change the jobs picture. Over the following decade, Voestalpine plans to modernize its blast furnaces, the massive tubs filled with molten metal that produce the bulk steel that gets processed at mills like Donawitz. The work there is dirty and labor-intensive, with a total of 2,700 employees at the company’s five furnaces, in Donawitz and Linz. Voestalpine says much of that process can be automated, providing a safer and cleaner environment for employees even as the number of jobs will likely fall. “What does steel production of the future look like?” Eder says. “The positive thing is, the jobs surviving in the long run will be really attractive.”

BOTTOM LINE - At Voestalpine’s new Donawitz wire mill, advances in technology mean fewer steelmaking jobs even as politicians point to the sector as a symbol of industrial might.


TL;DR: Improvements in manufacturing and automation have made it so the number of people actually working in the steel industry (specifically, although by extension you could apply it to some other industries) can be dramatically reduced. Jobs being "really attractive" can mean that while the jobs will be rare, they will be well compensated... but the owning corporations will be able to take their pick of people, because frankly there are going to be more people looking for work than there are jobs, by far.
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.


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