August 16, 2017
To follow the fickle artificial intelligence industry is to understand, and even appreciate, the fact that it can be interpreted differently by many people.
Recently Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk became embroiled in a good old fashioned internet beef when Musk called the Facebook founder’s understanding of artificial intelligence “limited” after Zuckerberg disparaged unnamed “people who are naysayers” he deemed “irresponsible.”
I've talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2017
Regardless of where one stands on the potential future benefits and pitfalls of AI, there is one major U.S. industry that’s already reaping the tangible rewards and dealing with the multitude of current threats that comes with embracing artificial technology as it stands in 2017, automobiles.
By the end of the decade, the majority of new cars will come with some semblance of AI built into them such as voice recognition, auto-pilot mode, or even the ability to perform self-diagnostics and maintenance. And as many before me have pointed out, humans will soon be less ‘driver’ and more ‘cargo’ when it comes to their experience on the wide open road.
However, what about those drivers whose job it is to be responsible for — and therefore distinguishable from — the cargo they’re hauling?
In October 2016, Uber’s self-driving truck completed the world’s first autonomous truck delivery from Fort Collins 120 miles south to Colorado Springs, with 50,000 cans of Budweiser in tow. And just a few months ago, the company unveiled Uber Freight: a brokerage service connecting shippers and truckers through a new standalone app.
“It is showing what the future will be like,” said Uber Freight’s product lead, Eric Berdinis. “There are lots of path that that could happen. Nothing to go into detail on now.”
Nevertheless, this map lays out a gloomy future for the trucking industry.
As of 2014, the “truck driver” was the most popular profession in 29 states.
The occupation that has been fortuitously immune to both globalization and automation and is about to get a right hook in the jaw. Natalie Kitroeff of The Los Angeles Times reported last September that robots could replace some 1.4 million American truckers over the next 10 years.
“There’s also a sweeter financial incentive for automating trucks. Trucking is a $700-billion industry, in which a third of costs go to compensating drivers,” explains Kitroeff. “If you can get rid of the drivers, those people are out of jobs, but the cost of moving all those goods goes down significantly.”
The loss of those reliable $42,500/year average salaries is going to do a number on our nation’s economy and psyche, like no malevolent Android could ever dream of doing.
And if we’re not smart about how we handle this natural consequence of artificial intelligence, then we’re a lot dumber than we look.
Read more about advancements in autonomous vehicles at TechCo
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