The digitalization of production processes, in Germany also known as Industry 4.0, promises economic growth in times of stagnation. According to business organizations and market-liberal politicians, digitalization will provide solutions for current global challenges like economic stagnation, (youth) unemployment, post-financial crisis or climate change. From buildings and cars to entire supply chains, everything will be connected. We will live in yet another “brave new world”, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
Some hope that a digitalization of the production – or Industry 4.0 – will help to increase resource efficiency, thus eventually decreasing resource consumption. Overall, however, the issue of raw material demands is mostly absent from public debates about digitalization and future technologies. This fact sheet thus sheds light on precisely these interlinkages between new technologies and specific raw material demands. Furthermore, the social and ecological consequences of mining will be outlined, followed by demands towards a democratic and globally just resource policy.
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This fact sheet is a shortened and updated translation of our publication Ressourcenfluch 4.0 – Die sozialen und ökologischen Auswirkungen von Industrie 4.0 auf den Rohstoffsektor (February 2017).
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of PowerShift, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.