Kevin Roose's terrific interview on today's Fresh Air (March 16, 2021) about his new book, Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation, spoke to the transformation that occurred in the automotive industry and the effect on later generations in factory towns like Flint.
"We need to prepare for the possibility that a lot of people are going to fall through the cracks of this technological transformation. It's happened during every technological transformation we've ever had, and it's going to happen this time. And in fact, it already is happening. ... [A] lot of the people who went through those technological transformations ... didn't have a good time. They weren't necessarily happier, or living better lives, or wealthier as a result of this new technology. ... Old jobs have been disappearing faster than new jobs have been created."
This promise and peril of automation -- also known as "deindustrialization," from an earlier period -- is a theme in my novel Motown Man, which is set in the early 1990s in a fictionalized version of Flint. Bradley, the book's main character, is reminded of the plight of two individuals who fell "through the cracks" as industry automation, designed by electrical engineers like him, made certain jobs obsolete.