Two items that landed in the box. First, from Business in Vancouver:
A report released Monday (September 19) from a group of Seattle-based tech experts suggests autonomous vehicles are needed to better link their city’s economy to their northern neighbours.
The report is pushing for the creation of dedicated traffic lanes for autonomous vehicles throughout the 225-kilometre stretch of highway between Seattle and Vancouver.
… the report suggests that within 10-15 years, self-driving cars would supplant existing vehicles along the I-5/Highway 99 corridor. Human-driven cars would not be permitted on highways except for times when there is little congestion such as weekends or between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. on weekdays.
Here’s a question I’m hoping comes up at Monday’s presidential debate: Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump, what would you do about self-driving trucks?
According to the boosters, autonomous trucks would avert lots of accidents, saving thousands of lives annually. They could reduce congestion and carbon emissions by cutting the number of trucks on the road, as each truck would never have to sleep. In the short-to-midrange future — before they are good enough to dispense with a human driver entirely — they may make the job of driving a truck far more comfortable and enjoyable than it is today. And they could also slash the cost of interstate transit, possibly sparking wider economic prosperity. …
In the long run, if the trucks prove successful and our logistics infrastructure adjusts to accommodate them, they could begin to displace the three million Americans (mostly men) who now drive trucks for a living, not to mention truck stops and the small towns that depend on them. …
How Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton think about autonomous trucks is in some ways a test case for their ideas about technology generally. It might reveal how they would weigh the benefits of innovation — which usually accrue diffusely to the nation at large — against the particular burdens borne by a small group (the truck drivers who might lose their jobs, in this case).
PT: The question could equally apply to our leaders in Canada, where the job-loss estimate, for all kinds of driverless vehicles, tops well over 100,000.
Think about just dumping tens of thousands of low-skilled aging men out of work, with little prospect of retraining for similarly paying jobs, and imagine what the social and political consequences would be. Actually, Trumpism gives you a pretty good idea.
There is also the question of wealth inequality and redistribution as transportation services get increasingly concentrated among a handful of ever-more-powerful service providers who control and integrate an many modes as possible – all with the intent of delabouring trucking, transit, taxis, etc.
This is not a recipe for social stability. Political leaders would be crazy to unleash these forces without preparing for the consequences.