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Erica and Kaveh are steering Future for the next two days as Steve finishes up a week in Davos, rubbing shoulders with the global elite.
Okay, let's start with ...
The midwestern counties hit hardest by previous waves of job-market turbulence will again bear the brunt of the next round of automation-fueled disruptions, report Erica Pandey and Kaveh Waddell.
Why it matters: As middle- and low-wage jobs in the American heartland disintegrate further, the national anger and polarization fueled by an urban-rural divide will only deepen.
"We often talk about automation in terms of which jobs will be lost. It's just as important, if not more important, to think about which places will be hit."— Roy Bahat, head of the venture fund Bloomberg Beta
The backstory: The last wave of technological disruption — the IT revolution of the 1980s — created new jobs, but the bulk of the job and wage gains were in the high and low ends of the labor market. Scores of middle-wage, middle-skill jobs in manufacturing, largely in the middle of the country, were automated away or sent abroad.
By the numbers:
But the extent of the hit to middle America is even clearer when zooming in to the county level.
Why it's happening: Automation is best suited for jobs that are repetitive and predictable — like factory work. Now, in the AI age, machines may encroach even on jobs that require uniquely human skills, like taking care of the elderly or waiting tables, says Gorbis.
What's next: To absorb the coming disruption, the government and corporations will have to take charge of reskilling and upskilling huge swaths of displaced workers.
"The big challenge we're looking at in the next few years is not mass unemployment but mass redeployment."— Michael Chui, McKinsey Global Institute
The bottom line: The cost of reskilling the 1.4 million people who are displaced will be close to $34 billion, according to the World Economic Forum.
A Lakeside student works with his math teacher. Photo: Tom Reese/Lakeside School
The year I graduated high school, economic anxiety was cresting: The Great Recession was at its worst, and unemployment was hurtling toward 10%, Kaveh reports.
The big picture: Lakeside, which counts Microsoft co-founders Paul Allen and Bill Gates among its alumni, has long emphasized tech. Students are given laptops starting in fifth grade, and every high schooler learns programming in math class.
That may no longer be enough, says Lakeside principal Bernie Noe.
A top priority should be teaching students to coexist with artificial intelligence, says Noe: "knowing where their cognitive ability ends and AI's picks up."
The reshuffle may cause casualties, too. Some teaching styles, assignments or even entire subjects might be shown the door, Noe says.
I asked several Lakeside sophomores how they think their high school should adapt and what working will be like by the time they start their careers.
A helicoper fighting the Ferguson fire flies by dead trees. Photo: Noah Berger/AFP/Getty
A California judge's proposal for clearing dead trees near power lines — a leading cause of the state's devastating wildfires this year — would cost billions of dollars, according to energy giant PG&E, Kaveh writes.
The big picture: In a court filing yesterday, the company claimed the work would cost as much as $150 billion dollars and require 650,000 full-time employees.
PG&E equipment led to at least 17 major fires in 2017, according to an ongoing state investigation, though the company was cleared of blame for the Tubbs fire today.
Go deeper: More details in the San Francisco Chronicle
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
UK Prime Minister Theresa May is interviewed in a Sky News studio. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Images/Getty
A new vision of the future of work is coming out of Sky News in the UK. It involves constant video and audio surveillance — not for security, but for others' entertainment.
Kaveh writes: For one day, an online livestream being called "Sky News Raw" will carry the sights and sounds of the Sky News newsroom between 5:30 am and 10:30 pm, BuzzFeed UK's Mark Di Stefano reported on Twitter.
Our thought bubble: An all-day livestream of a workplace would be fun if the cameras were trained on, say, zookeepers. An all-day livestream of a newsroom sounds profoundly boring. Journalists mostly drink coffee, call people and type.