Are these kids tomorrow's coal miners?
Not a referenced post, but picking up on Steve's comments, which are worthy of a whole series of posts, on the replacement of substantial numbers of jobs in the economy by robots. But surely it's not all negative? I'd far rather send expendible robots 3,000' underground to mine coal, for instance, than men. Methane, silicone dust, explosives, flooding, rock falls, risk and injury all avoided – and mines that can work 24 hours a day without needing a town full of people built on top of them.
Well, a bit of googling found a mine robot prototyped in 2013. They must be working somewhere by now.
Not just coal, but tin, copper, rare earths. Robot miners can exploit small seams deeper and more hostile than men can. Even underwater – what about mining the seabed within the 200 mile economic zone? Just another post-Brexit asset we've got.
It may also be worth compiling a running list of those professions most at risk from robots. At the top of mine are fighter pilots; it makes no sense building fast jets half the tech of which are pilot life support systems. Drones with just weapons and avionics can have greater endurance, greater speed, tighter G and in direst emergency can be flown into a target, all at a tenth the cost of a conventional fast jet with no risk to the highly trained pilot. RAF fighter pilots of the future can also be fat, middle aged console-kings downing Chinese Migs in their underpants, reserving our lean, fit risk lords for vital gardening, cooking and bar-service roles for which robots can never replicate human skills.