It could be a bane or a boon. There are ethical issues like the effect on jobs and tariff that we need to talk about

If theres one thing 2016 taught us its that political prophecies are a mugs play. Predictions about engineering and communities, however, are at least a little easier. One happen thats going to rub up against our noses during 2017 is the imminence of the driverless car revolution, which is going to be a big one.

Around our house there is a new interference. Its my tone, in a ambiance of despotic bidding, saying: Alexa, stop! Or perhaps, Alexa, play the Beach Boys; or Alexa, whats the weather like tomorrow? Yes, like millions of others, I got the new Amazon toy for Christmas a small cylinder that can answer many questions with massive speeding and aptitude, play music, order taxis, dictate recipes and much else besides.

Yet Alexa, already changing life in my household, is nothing compared to the changes that driverless automobiles are going to visit on us very soon. Not long ago this is only science fiction, but in 2016 we construed them experimented on wall street of Milton Keynes. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a row between Uber and the nation of California over licences appreciated driverless gondolas removed from the streets and the first lethal car crash in the US concerning a car on autopilot.

Next year the UK government hopes we will see trials of driverless autoes on British motorways. So its age for some serious “ve been thinking about” whats coming down the fast lane in 2017.

Lets start with the positives. First, a lot of people who would be killed or injured on the roads if we carry on as “weve been” will be saved. It may seem counter-intuitive, but almost all studies on well equipped driverless vehicles suggest they are safer than those driven by humen. There is an additional safety advantage for women, who worry about late-night taxi trips. A driverless automobile might seem a ominou invention to some people but it isnt going to assault you.

Driverless automobiles should also greatly improve the city landscape. We have become used to the ugliness of almost every street being suffocated by parked vehicles, but there would be almost no point in most of us owning a car. The costs of a taxi trip is chiefly made up by paying the operator, and therefore neighbourhood moves would be dramatically cheaper.

It will seem outlandishly extravagant to blow tens of thousands of pounds on buying a piece of paraphernalium you can hire whenever you need it for far less. Petrolheads on a Jeremy Clarkson knock will still want to own their gondolas, but for most people this will be a big saving.

So our streets will be clearer. And, because these will be electric cars, cleaner too. There will be required to be enormous new infrastructure systems massive garages to accumulate the cars so they are unable arrive quickly when prescribed. I wonder whether local set services will survive. We may consider a return to the Thatcherite proposal for railway lines to be turned into streets, this time for driverless cars.

As for buses, at the moment we have a largely undiscussed haul apartheid between automobile owners and bus consumers. But if driverless cars wield then surely “theres been” driverless buses, which can be a lot smallest and more numerous than todays diesel-spewing vehicles. At the other dissolve of the scale, vehicle sharing and car pooling, already popular, will expand: the differences between mortal applying a driverless minibus and driverless, large shared gondola could become meaningless.

Put all this together and I can imagine auto owned, and vehicle driving, being frowned on as much as opening a packet of fags at a family gleaning is now.

But gives turn to the dark side of this. First, its effects on activities. There are just under 300,000 HGV drivers licensed in the UK and about the same number of licensed taxi and cab drivers in England and Wales. But these figures are likely an underestimate of the actual number of professional motorists, given the black/ gray-headed economy and the neighbourhood delivery drivers. Putting all this together, I wouldnt be surprised “if theres” around a million people across the UK dependent upon driving others, or goods, or takeaways for their living.

But the numbers are only the half of it. In an age of job insecurity, driving has become the default route that many parties, especially males, keep their fronts above ocean. If you cant find anything else, sign on with a neighbourhood cab firm and spend long hours on the streets.

So the implications of that version of job ruin is likely to be coarse, and involve redistribution. Who will be the enormous gainers from the driverless vehicle revolution? Apparently the most difficult vehicle business, and those at the vanguard of the technology Tesla, Mercedes, Honda and the taxi companionships, like Uber. Both can expect to oblige monumental earnings. How do you channel some of that fund back into the economy to provide jobs for the former moves?

Thats the old-fashioned interrogate about the taxation of multinationals. I dont learn any opportunity of our society running out of things for human beings to do not with the care crisis, or the needs of the NHS, or the nearly endless quantities of environmental work to be done. Its about fund, by effectively tariffing the brand-new profits.

There are also safety issues. This entire system depends upon the internet. A terrorist attack, or even a large solar flare, could knock everything out. The more interconnected “weve been”, the most vulnerable we are.

This is such a huge issue I would expect it to be a major political question for its first year ahead. As with the majority technological advances, driverless gondolas will be a wonderful future or a looming calamity, dependent on the political choices we construct. That, at the least, hasnt changed. Has it, Alexa?


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