At the TrustBelt 2016 conference in Chicago, business and economic development leaders met to discuss the economic situation in the midwest, and how tech and innovation have been key factors in its economic recovery post-recession. One of the key points in the discussion? How automation, AI, and robots will be changing industry in the midwest.

Ankur Gopal, CEO of Interapt, a software firm in Louisville, KY, that hires developers, spoke to TechRepublic about how his company is currently using automation, and how he plans to integrate new tech into its overall strategy.

On the manufacturing side, said Gopal, CEOs talk about retooling, retraining, and hiring. “You think that technological advances kill jobs,” said Gopal. “But it’s not true–it just creates new skills that are required.”

Gopal says he plans to see a tremendous shift in the workforce. While many of mundane and predictable tasks will continue to be replaced by automation, there are many opportunities for new positions. “We need people to program, scale, and automate the new technology,” said Gopal. “It’s scary because people are trying to learn something before they know what it is.”

His company is “bullish on AI and VR.”

“In our world,” said Gopal, “we’re training people to be AI programmers. I’ve got people in R&D who spend half their time learning the newest tech. Companies that do this are going to win.”

The tech, he said, “is going to create a new economy.”

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