Mayors from across the country gathered in South Bend Friday morning to discuss how they can address the impacts and opportunities that automation and artificial intelligence could have in their communities.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors Automation Task Force met in South Bend’s former Studebaker manufacturing warehouse. The space, which was once used to build cars, has been remodeled for tech companies, highlighting a generational transformation in automation and artificial intelligence.
Christopher Cabaldon is the mayor of West Sacramento, California. He says he and others were excited to visit South Bend in particular.
“We’ve been wanting to see what’s the magic that’s been happening in South Bend,” says Calbadon. “Both the revitalization work, but also the actual application of some of the smart technologies and automation and the sewer system, and the kind of basic problems mayors are dealing with across the country.”
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg says for cities to adapt to 21st Century job demands, mayors play a critical role in helping their towns and cities adapt.
“Mayors are beginning to realize that our jobs are a little different now with all these new technologies coming about. They’re changing our economies, they’re changing the way we run our cities,” says Buttigieg.
A report issued in November by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates some 73 million American jobs could be replaced through automation by 2030.
Buttigieg says the Hoosier State could have a lot to lose if government leaders don’t continue innovating.
“Well you know because Indiana has the highest reliance on manufacturing proportionately of any state in the country, we have lot at stake of how automation is going to change the manufacturing workforce,” says Buttigieg.
He points to his city’s partial automation of trash collection as one way South Bend is embracing the increasingly robotic climate.
Cabaldon sees this task force giving him the chance to find solutions and also connect with other mayors going through similar challenges.
“What a session like this really does is, you want to open your eyes to what some of the possibilities are. But also when you see other mayors, it’s kind of a little bit a support group,” says Cabaldon.