Putting off the planned post on technology and energy to look further at some possible outcomes from advances in automation. How might they affect the economy and what that might mean for society. My last post was prompted by thoughts about a discussion between Jack Spirko and John Pugliano on The Survival Podcast.
Here are my thoughts on one segment of jobs that might be hit very soon and how those people may react.
Self driving vehicles have been in the news a lot lately. With the technology available today, everything that is needed to have cars and trucks drive themselves is available. My bet would be that long distance trucking will be the first to see a significant impact from self driving vehicles for several reasons. Trucks are expensive, so the cost adder from the additional sensors and computing power will be a small percentage of total cost. Drivers are also expensive, they require breaks from driving, they add weight and they take up space. Initially the autonomous trucks will probably look like existing trucks and have the ability to have a human driver as well as auto operation. Then they will transition to only autonomous (or remote drone) operation. This will allow the space and weight that is now used by the cab to be put to better use. That use could be more cargo space or more fuel storage (they would still run on diesel, for reasons that will discussed in a future post) so they could travel longer distances between refueling. Businesses will replace current trucks with autonomous trucks to save money.
So in time many skilled drivers will be out of work and the small truck stop businesses that serve them will be hurting, while autonomous trucks cross the countryside. Here my thought on how those out of work drivers might react. Learning that the autonomous trucks will automatically slow to a stop if a vehicle in front of them does, these out of work, but still skilled drivers start passing the trucks and bring them to a stop on the quiet routes that the former truck drivers are so familiar with. Some do it just to cause problems for their former employers but others take to piracy and small truck stop towns along the routes become hubs for the stolen merchandise.
So we might have inland pirates boarding and taking from autonomous trucks instead of ships and using the truck stop towns as bases just as sea faring pirates used islands. How would the country react? Would the pirates be labeled domestic terrorists? Will the autonomous trucks be armored (adding weight and increasing fuel costs) or might they end up being armed? What do you think? Please let me know in the comments.
The Archdruid Report – I look forward to reading John Micheal Greer’s Archdruid Report every Wednesday evening. His understanding of history, the environment and the quality of his writing always make for an interesting and thought provoking post. I do not read much fiction but have read his book Star’s Reach which was a great story set several hundred years in the future and have been enjoying his latest fictional work Retrotopia as he posts new chapters on his blog.
Grass Feed Beef and Global Warming – a 3 minute video from the Savory Institute