It could be a bane or a boon. There are ethical issues like the effect on employment and excise that we need to talk about
If theres one thing 2016 taught us its that political prophecies are a mugs recreation. Predictions about engineering and communities, nonetheless, are at least much easier. One occasion thats going to rub up against our snouts during 2017 is the imminence of the driverless gondola revolution, which is going to be a big one.
Around our house there is a new interference. Its my expression, in a feeling of dictatorial bid, 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 gargantuan hasten and aptitude, play music, guild taxis, prescribe recipes and much else besides.
Yet Alexa, already transforming life in my household, is nothing compared to the changes that driverless cars are going to visit on us very soon. Not long ago this was science fiction, but in 2016 we find them experimented on wall street of Milton Keynes. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a row between Uber and the government of California over licences visualized driverless autoes removed from the streets and the first lethal auto crash in the US implying a car on autopilot.
Next year the UK government hopes we will see trials of driverless autoes on British motorways. So its era for some serious thinking about whats coming down the fast lane in 2017.
Lets start with the positives. First, quite a lot of people who would be killed or injured on the roads if we carry on as we are will be saved. It may seem counter-intuitive, but almost all studies on well equipped driverless vehicles show they are safer than those conducted in accordance with humen. There is an additional safety advantage for women, who worry about late-night taxi travels. A driverless auto might seem a sinister invention to some people but it isnt going to abuse you.
Driverless vehicles should also greatly improve the metropolitan 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 cost of a taxi go is predominantly made up by paying the driver, and therefore neighbourhood trips would be dramatically cheaper.
It will seem outlandishly extravagant to blow tens of thousands of pounds on buying a piece of equipment you are able to hire whenever you need it for far less. Petrolheads on a Jeremy Clarkson kick 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 is likely to be electric cars, cleaner extremely. There will also be required to immense new infrastructure systems big garages to store the cars so that they are able to arrive promptly when told. I wonder whether neighbourhood study services will endure. We may examine a return to the Thatcherite proposal for railway lines to be turned into superhighways, this time for driverless cars.
As for buses, at the moment we have a largely undiscussed vehicle apartheid between vehicle owners and bus useds. But if driverless gondolas labour then surely there will be driverless bus, which can be a lot smallest and more numerous than todays diesel-spewing vehicles. At the other discontinue of the scale of assessments, gondola sharing and car pooling, already favourite, will be extended: the differences between soul using a driverless minibus and driverless, big shared gondola could become meaningless.
Put all this together and I can imagine car possession, and auto driving, being frowned on as much as opening a packet of fags at a family accumulating is now.
But lets turn to the dark surface of this. First, the effect on enterprises. 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 perhaps an underestimate of the actual numbers of professional drivers, given the black/ gray economy and the local delivery drivers. Putting all this together, I wouldnt be surprised if there were around a million people in the different regions of the UK dependent upon driving others, or goods, or takeaways for their living.
But the numbers are simply the half of it. In an age of job insecurity, driving has become the default setting route that numerous people, especially mortals, keep their managers above water. If you cant find anything else, sign up with a neighbourhood cab house and invest long hours on the streets.
So the effect of this form of job shattering will be coarse, and compel redistribution. Who will be the enormous gainers from the driverless gondola revolution? Presumably the most difficult automobile fellowships, and those at the forefront of the technology Tesla, Mercedes, Honda and the taxi companies, like Uber. Both can expect to oblige gargantuan earnings. How do you channel some of that coin back into the economy to provide jobs for the former operators?
Thats the age-old question about the taxation of multinationals. I dont realize any likelihood 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 virtually incessant quantities of environmental work to be done. Its about funding, by effectively levying the brand-new profits.
There are also safety issues. This entire organisation depends upon the internet. A terrorist attack, or even a large solar flare, could knock everything out. The more interconnected the administration is, 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 automobiles will be a wonderful future or a looming catastrophe, dependent on the political choices we build. That, at least, hasnt changed. Has it, Alexa?