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Mia has had a rough time at work. A robot just took their job as a barista. Now they’ve started a barber apprenticeship, but there’s lots of robot competition here too. Really, Mia just wants to open up an heirloom food café with their partner, Naomi. But with all the water sensors and restrictions it’s not looking likely. Mia is hoping that Luca will pull a sponsor to sort them out, but for the time being they are stuck worrying about work.

Automation-based anxiety

Anxiety about automation in the workplace is not new. Since the early 1800s there have been people who have been worried about machines, later came computers, and now robots. It’s great at creating jobs for those that make the tech, but what about everyone else?

There are some jobs that will outlive the robot revolution, known as Industry 4.0. They’re the ones that involve managing people, creativity, decision-making, or social intelligence. Basically, the things that humans are better at doing than robots.

It’s not just people on factory lines that are at risk. Big media organisations are already using AI to generate reports and articles. And machine learning algorithms can detect breast cancer better than most radiologists. So, where does that leave us?

In Australia, it’s likely that we will need real people working in industries that will deal with our ageing population (like health care and social assistance). We need people to build all the things to deal with our growing population (like construction). There needs to be someone to teach all the people (education). And we need people to program the technology (like programmers).

If you aren’t working in any of those industries, don’t worry. Most fields estimate that AI and robots will augment the workforce, not replace them. For the time being, Mia has a lot of feelings about this. Why don’t you visit the salon? Get a haircut and hear a little more about how automation is impacting the workforce in Eucalara.