" A middle-aged man, holding a tool from the machine shop, looking forlorn and wistful. That’s what we might call the stock image of automation fears. It’s the picture that graces the news story about grim job-loss forecasts or think pieces about whether the robots are ‘coming for our jobs.’ (It’s either that or a menacing android.) This is who the robot threatens, who is afraid of the robot: older, semi-skilled, probably uneducated men in the manufacturing industries.
Except it’s not exactly true: Just about everyone, it turns out, is afraid that automation is going to erase their jobs, even the youngest, most starry-eyed among us. Studies have shown that automation has impacted some of the youngest members of the workforce the most, and a new bit of market research reveals that so-called Generation Z is already plenty worried about the phenomenon.
Perhaps if Gen Z looked at the generational trends and did not see forecasts like the deep likelihood that they’ll be the second generation to be poorer than their parents, due to widening inequality, the degradation of job quality in certain sectors, and the ‘uberization’ of work—and no small part to the fact that automated and semi-automated technologies are sending an increasing share of profits upstream, where they are enjoyed by the upper management and not the middle class—they may have more reason to accept an “empowerment narrative” about AI and automation."
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