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Thriving cities may soon be disrupted by robots

Right in the centre of Florida is a metro area that is home to more than 600,000 people, along with some of the most technologically sophisticated distribution centres in the country.

In and around the city of Lakeland, you will find operations from Amazon, DHL (for Ikea), Walmart , Rooms to Go, Medline and Publix, along with a huge Geico call centre, the world’s largest wine-and-spirits distribution warehouse and local factories that produce natural and artificial flavours and, of all things, glitter.

Yet, a recent report by the Brookings Institution, based on data from the US Census Bureau and McKinsey & Co., argues that the economic good times for Lakeland could rapidly come to an end. Brookings placed it third on its list of metros that are most at risk of losing jobs because of the very same automation and artificial intelligence that make its factories, warehouses and offices so productive.

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