Driverless Society or Jobless Society?
Most people are amazed at Google’s propensity to push the envelope. From their creation of the worlds largest advertising web farm to the final destruction of those webs it dictates terms to when it started to give answers instead of directing them to the people with the answers. But they entered the driverless car territory now and are out to prove that any automotive device can be better directed by computer than humans.
This may be true in following the laws of the road, less road rage, and quicker reactions to conditions it is programmed to. No one knows what would happen if there was a condition that was not programmed, but that is not the area I am looking at.
What I am looking at is this effort by Google will only push the work force out of transportation and into the streets.
The US Department of Transportation stated that in 2012 there were 133 million trucks on the roads. This is big trucks, not your delivery vans and other forms of trucking. In 2010 there were a reported 13,000 taxis in NYC. Nationally there are estimates ranging from 120 million to 140 million nation wide. There are about 265 million cars registered in the USA. We are talking a lot of people using and working with automobiles of all kinds. In the USA there are at least half the people working around the automotive industry.
When, and if, driverless cars start to reach out into our lives you have to face the fact that at least 200 million Americans will be out of work because of technology. Unemployment will reach out and touch more than half of all Americans.
When PC’s first came out and software to do accounting, word processing, etc., the work place changed forever. But people were not out of work, they just had to adapt to changing from pencil pushing to typing data and give up their calculators for electronic equations. I remember being called in to train people to adjust to database, spreadsheet, and word processing software and how hard it was to get people to move from the old into the new.
But driverless vehicles present a different problem. There is no adaptation to keep your job. Drivers will no longer be needed. 133 million plus truck drivers out of work. Dock workers replaced by robots a thing of the past. Small delivery drivers – out of work. What will people do to earn a living? They do not have the education to find work as engineers. The only people who might keep a living are the few mechanics who can change the way they work from mechanical to electrical.
So, I have to ask: Is a driverless society going to be better?