Transmission systems are the last thing that will be robotized. I base this on the fact that there are still sections of the electrical grid using parts that were installed in the 1940's. Baring a complete re-installation of these systems (which ain't gonna happen) they will be using people to maintain these systems for another fifty years.
^This. Spoken like someone who has perhaps seen one of these sites, unlike the rest of the commenters. The broadcast industry is over a century old, and certain aspects have not changed from the first time they "got it right", such as transmission line. We know how to make it perfect. With that goes the understanding that we expect it (infrastructure) to last a long long time. While we broadcasters use cutting edge technology in the studio where the content is created, the transmission infrastructure that's out there is from the 80's and 90's, and it ain't going anywhere anytime soon. Nor will it have extremely expensive robots attached to it. The people who spent the massive sums of money to install it expect it to work a while longer, because they are strapped for expenditures from all that cutting edge technology and talent being used on the front end.
A decade ago when I got into this field, I did so because I too saw the writing on the wall that robots would replace some jobs. Woe, whole swaths of job categories in some industries. I realized in time that I wanted a job that was safe from that, so I looked for something that absolutely required a human's *hands* and *whole body* and not just his smarts. I can't say for certain that my job is safe a few generations of technology from now, but I can say for certainty it won't change before I retire from my current job. And I'm damn sure not looking for another job. There isn't anything else I can get that won't be phased out or infested with newbies, and because of the extreme specialization, the compensation is as good as any tech job out there.
"* Climbs up tower and replaces part: ehhhh...you win.
You have me on that last one. Replacing parts still requires a human. For now"
I could easily see that being replaced by a modular design of easy to fail parts and a drone. Drone flies up, puts part multitool into slot, unslots it and transfer the one from its drone bay in place. Optical sensors verify the repair and no air leaks.
Wrong. The parts are absurdly heavy and have to be winched up. This requires several people keeping tabs on where the part is and steering it so it doesn't smash other antennae on the way up. Furthermore, the tower is swaying back and forth in the wind.
Manually switching parts is difficult only because the parts havent been designed to be switched by a robot. Once that happens, game over. You've probably seen videos of robotic tape libraries already. https://www.google.ca/search?t...
I have a tape library. And a room full of servers. And hundreds of fiber links. And about a thousand spinning disks. There's no automated way to keep all of those things working. And none in sight.
All thats needed is to design and build the system. We have the technology. Making it cheaper than paying some forest ranger 50k a year to do it on the otherhand might take a while.
Wrong again. The more technology you throw at the system, the more important the human in charge of the system becomes. This is what robofetishists keep failing to recognize. It's a bit like the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which you have demonstrated by referring to broadcast engineers as forest rangers. I would remind you that we make quite a bit more than $50K/y, as well. What I make here in Alabama equates to about $160K in San Fransico's economy.
Of course you can drive stoned
Unless you're "one toke over the line" and suffer a panic attack. Well, even then a salty stoner can still get up and down the highway, but it is by no means pleasant.