This is my first response to my post “Where have all the unskilled jobs gone?”
It concerns paper mills and workers related to the person who responded.
I am but offering a prediction. An informed one yes, but an extrapolation.
The problem with the statement, " Big data/automation cannot replace the human element when it comes to crafting and dealing with physical manufacturing processes." Is that this is already occurring. The issue is not if this is possible, but can it be achieved cost effectively. There are already plants that offer light's out automation. It is not science fiction, it is a process that has already started and is being taken up more and more in new plants each day.
Blacksmiths, farriers and many trades have passed. These have been skilled trades that many thought could never be replaced. Computers were people once. These rooms of people would add and do calculations (even log charts) for many purposes including shipping. They were essential. In a matter of years they became obsolete and have been completely replaced by newer technologies.
For these people, it is a tragedy. More so when they do not see and react to the changes until too late.
With forethought, we can plan and be prepared.
The shame in what you have written and the true tragedy is that you have told of a dying industry. Paper plants are already becoming automated. More importantly, paper has a shelf life. We will not be using the vast volumes of paper forever.
I have linked a paper (http://www.tappi.org/Downloads/unsorted/UNTITLED---eng01108pdf.aspx). This is on Complete automation on paper mill warehouses. It is a decade and more old already. Old mills will be replaced slowly, new mills will start more and more to become completely automated.
We can be angry at these changes and want to have a world where we know what we do now will be a role our children may also move into, but this is not going to be the case.
The economics of machines becoming less expensive and people more allow only one determination. These types of industry will change and manual labour will vanish. For those in these industries, it is a tragedy. For the whole of society, we have more at a lower cost. I am sorry for their loss, but the gain to the many exceeds the costs.
The tragedy is not new. Just as blacksmiths and farriers bemoaned the losses they experienced, so too will many alive now.