Self-Driving Trucks

Those 3.5 million truck drivers driving all over the country stop regularly to eat, drink, rest, and sleep. Entire businesses have been built around serving their wants and needs. Think restaurants and motels as just two examples. So now we’re talking about millions more whose employment depends on the employment of truck drivers. [...]

Robot trucks will kill far fewer people, if any, because machines don’t get tired. Machines don’t get distracted. Machines don’t look at phones instead of the road. Machines don’t drink alcohol or do any kind of drugs or involve any number of things that somehow contribute to the total number of accidents every year involving trucks.

Never heard of Scott Santens before, but I came across this Medium article and I found it fascinating. It starts with an analysis of the truck industry and the impact it has beyond the drivers. And it touches the key question: we tend to think of technology as a job replacement mechanism, but the implications go much farther, they impact the how overall economy is shaped.

The truck example is really compelling. First because from a purely rational point of view it makes a lot of sense. It's like "let the machines do this because we are so bad at it". But once you've passed that point, you start thinking of the small economies that work around the truck industry. The fact that this is the most common in the USA. The local ecosystems that cycle over those incomes. The fact that (this time) the alternative does not create additional jobs...

So without you even noticing, the topic has shifted from the imminent unemployment of truck drivers to the extinction of car ownership and the accumulation of capital on corporations and away from the middle class. We will be facing this problem sooner than later, so we might start talking about it before it's already too late.