What do we do as a society when AVs become increasingly automated and driving professions become obsolete? With nearly three million individuals involved in industrial transportation in the United States alone, whole logistical operations are likely to be automated, resulting in widespread unemployment. AVS will undoubtedly generate new professions and businesses that we aren't aware of now, but many people's skills will become obsolete in the meanwhile. As a society, we must prepare for the day when the abilities that millions of individuals have spent a lifetime honing are no longer in demand. "Cars first, people second," as New York City Traffic Commissioner Samuel Schwartz reportedly stated, "is an attitude that has been difficult to overcome." Now is the moment to make a mental shift.
Automobile production is another area affected by AVS. Car and truck ownership will decline if the promise of always-on, on-demand AV fleets comes true. While fewer automobiles on the road is beneficial for the environment and for customers, manufacturers will sell fewer vehicles, forcing reductions in assembly, component production, materials, and other supply chains.
You're sure to observe a few things if you drive through any little American town. Gas stations, auto mechanics, muffler shops, and oil charge stations are all places where you may fill up your tank. Many businesses will have few job possibilities remaining as they are consolidated owing to diminishing margins and new technologies such as electric automobiles. Municipalities that rely on traffic and parking fines to balance their operating budgets would lose those advantages, in addition to the money and taxes lost by small enterprises. This unexpected cash shortage will have a wide range of consequences, including a reduction in the number of police officers the city can hire and cuts to parks and leisure.
Perils, like any developing technology, must be weighed against benefits. The number of automobiles and trucks on the road will be reduced by autonomous vehicles, making travel safer. However, the system may be manipulated: empty "zombie" automobiles may circle the block to avoid paying parking fees, cutting revenue for many cities and towns while also raising pollution. The trucking sector employs 74 million people in the United States alone. Approximately 5% of total labor is accounted for. In twenty-nine states, "truck driver" is the top employment, and millions of support jobs are also in jeopardy. For instance, 1.7 million automated drivers won't eat at a truck stop pancake house. Throw in warehouse drivers, chauffeurs, train and boat operators. and AVs will have a marked impact on one of the last well paying jobs that can be done with only a high school education
Accidents and Death
The most significant potential for AVS is to reduce the 1.3 million yearly fatalities caused by automotive accidents. While a decrease in road deaths is clearly beneficial, there are still drawbacks. The vast majority of organs for transplantation originate from healthy persons who die in car accidents. The death toll for patients on the organ transplant waiting list will rise if the traffic death toll falls.
Consider a situation in which an AV is traveling on an icy patch of ground or is otherwise obstructed by a person. How would a computer handle this issue if the carat had to choose between murdering the pedestrian or driving the vehicle off the bridge, killing the passenger? What would a person do in this situation? Depending on who the pedestrian was, humans would respond differently. We might be more inclined to hit a single adult, but we'd rather run the car off the bridge than hit an adult carrying a little child. It's unnerving to consider all of the possible solutions to this dilemma. While it's understandable that you wouldn't want to hit a family, what if your own children were in the car? The Trolley Problem is a long-standing ethical thought experiment about human readiness to exchange life. While the original purpose of these thought exercises was to freak out freshmen philosophy students, they now have a new urgency. While humans are hesitant to rank how human lives should be valued on paper, we'll have to if we expect a machine to make comparable rapid decisions, preferably in a transparent manner.
The Trolley Problem
While there are many advantages to using AVs, we must not be fooled by the benefits and overlook the risks. Autonomous vehicles must not "suffer a victory," as journalist Alexander Kabakov put it when the Soviet Union fell apart. It's still early enough that we may choose to emphasize the advantages while minimizing the negatives. The good news is that each setback provides us with another opportunity to take control of our destiny and create the finest possible conclusion. AVs, like any new technology, are neither good nor evil fundamentally, but rather a potential to transform the world. Let us endeavor to bend that transformation in the direction of justice for the benefit of more people.
AVs will happen at scale, and in some form, despite the secret aspirations of luddites worldwide. The economic benefits are simply too tremendous. However, it's likely that the value we see now may be restricted to a few niche applications until we achieve the holy grail of self-driving cars capable of safely transporting a child to soccer practice. "We may wake up fifty years from now to find a world where Level 5 AVs never existed," Sertac Karaman, an autonomy researcher at MIT, once said. However, there are a variety of less autonomous transportation solutions that can nonetheless cause considerable economic disruption. Long-haul shipping, geofenced transportation, such as airports, and consumer fleets run remotely are all occurring now. We know that with appropriate infrastructure, we can construct automobiles that can drive in designated high-speed lanes without being watched. However, fully autonomous cars capable of navigating in all traffic circumstances would need a significant increase in effort. And until that happens, much of the AV industry will continue to invest billions of dollars on faith.
Consider a future in which automobiles were delivered on demand and ownership was unnecessary. Those stranded in cities with underfunded public transit may benefit from personal, direct transportation at a fraction of the current fees of 25 cents per mile, allowing them to pursue more employment and educational options. It is a grave injustice to need ownership of a costly and fast deteriorating transportation asset merely to participate in the economy.
We might anticipate urban and suburban real estate to change as people's work and home lives become less intertwined. It's no surprise that the University of Waterloo in Canada discovered a clear correlation between commuting duration and overall life happiness. Commuting isn't everyone's cup of tea. Furthermore, when the human population grows but land does not, a significant portion of land currently used for parking spots can be recovered for human use. Many vacant lots and garages in city centers may be converted into parks and residences, therefore enhancing quality of life and lowering living costs. And how many residences outside of cities give up perfectly decent square footage for a garage? The good news is that because millennials value convenience above ownership, the very existence of ride sharing is removing automobile ownership as a prerequisite for middle-class membership in America.
Aside from the conveniences of daily living, the cost of transporting goods will also decrease. This will expand the supply chain's possibilities. Last-mile transportation at low cost and autonomous robotic cars in warehouses can help unleash much of Industry 4.0's promise. For example, more quick, small-batch shipments can help with just-in-time bespoke manufacturing. The rate of production will increase, the volume of inventory will decrease, and the cost of transporting items will decrease. When this is combined with personal and business conveniences enabled by personal logistics and autonomous cars, the things we buy will arrive sooner, fresher, and for less money.
With the advancements in autonomous vehicles and ride-share fleets, we can finally take a step back and consider if we ever truly desired cars and trucks or just the freedom to move and move things. Transportation that is both safe and readily available is a cornerstone of liberty in the twenty-first century and beyond. Our ancestors will be perplexed as to how we managed to endure this bronze era of human-powered mobility and why it took us so long to disconnect our simian minds. This advanced technology cannot come fast enough for those of us who have lost friends and family members in car accidents. We can undoubtedly tame our own robots if we can conquer the planet on the backs of a few well-trained quadrupeds.