CL Simplex

Self Driving Cars: Social

Self Driving Cars: Social

This was previously going to be part of the "Ethics" series, but we actually want to expand on this. We will be blogging about several areas in which this technology will impact our lives.

Self driving cars are going to be coming to our lives sooner than later. Google's parent company, Alphabet just led a one billion dollar funding round with Lyft - a taxi company / Uber competitor. This partnership, along with Waymo's (a Google subsidiary) autonomous driving research will put more robot cars on the road even faster. Self driving cars are a cornerstone of science fiction, but there are a couple things to consider the moment they enter reality. There will be an impact on human life.

Social Impact: Lives Saved

Self driving cars will save lives. Robots (a working self driving car specifically) are better drivers than a human could ever be. There are several instances of robots that can process visual data and act on it so fast that to the human eye it appears the robot is predicting the future. A "rock paper scissors" robot was developed that has a "100% win rate." It changes its response so quickly the human player cannot tell that it only moves after the human has already made their move!

Point being, people needlessly dying in automotive accidents might be a thing of the past. Apparently over a million people die every year worldwide due to car accidents/events [1]. That is a lot of people. Having an extra million people sticking around each year will have an impact on the global population, economies, environments, as well as a simple increase of human potential.

Social Impact: Jobs

As saving lives will increase human potential, we need to make sure we are taking advantage of that potential. Removing drivers from the economy will dramatically shift economic sectors. Economists refer to this as "structural" unemployment - meaning some jobs no longer exist and new jobs come into the picture. These driver jobs will almost certainly never return as the new jobs being created are specialist engineering positions needed to create and maintain robot car fleets.

As the very largest organizations have car fleets, they will need less people to generate wealth. This wealth can then be used to automate more and more of the economy. This further compounds the removal of humans from the economy and its balkanization into specialists and entry level positions yet to be automated.

To circle back to our Lyft/Uber example - they could eliminate 90% of their workforce and be just as productive if not more productive.

Social Impact: Travel and Tourism

Self driving cars could be a huge boon to tourism and travel. It would make longer commutes more feasible. Imagine getting into your car at 5:30am, going to sleep then waking up to arrive at work for 8:30. The same applies to long trips of any kind. You could travel in your sleep. This would make tourism much more accessible. Visiting that place 6-8 hours away would simply be an evening's sleep. With cloud gps technology and data your own car could provide a guided tour of wherever you happen to find yourself. Barriers to travel would make our society (and economy) more fluid.

Social Impact of Self Driving Cars

This is a very simple overview! Making it easier to travel places has traditionally had a large impact on our lives, direct and indirect. Self driving vehicles will represent a large change in not only our society, but also in how our economy operates.




Tap or click on these posts to navigate to the next or previous posts.

Post Series

This post is part of a larger series. Tap or click on a post to view more in this series.