In April, Thomas Frey, the founding executive director of non-profit futurist organization the DaVinci Institute, posted a prediction outlining 128 things that the driverless car era will bring to an end (or substantially reduce) by the year 2030.
“I’ve become enamored with the coming autonomous car era where many of today’s problems get solved,” writes Frey. “However, going through the transition will be anything but smooth.”
He goes on to explain all the areas primed for disruption by autonomous vehicles. Personal drivers as well as drivers and operators of heavy industrial vehicles are an obvious guess. In addition, Frey lists supporting jobs such as driving instructors, traffic analysts, car licensing and registration jobs, parking-related jobs, and many others.
Because autonomous vehicles promise to cut down on the number of accidents and fatalities resulting from human error — such as fatigue, drunkenness, and distractions — vehicle and road maintenance and repair will also be less of a problem. As a result, insurance firms may also see their businesses suffering.
In connection with this, Frey also foresees car theft and road rage instances dropping down. Subsequently, we’ll see fewer related court cases. Legal jobs and personnel that monitor, enforce, and oversee the implementation of driving laws, such as police, traffic lawyers, and judges, will also be downsized.
Frey agrees with Elon Musk’s forecast that, as full AI autonomy becomes legal, human drivers will likely become prohibited. “The privilege of driving is about to be redefined,” he writes. “Elon Musk has predicted, over time, that lawmakers will decide that driving a vehicle is far too dangerous for humans, and most people will be outlawed from doing the driving themselves.”
So how are humans going to adapt in a world where machines are taking over fast?
Some are recommending a universal basic income (UBI), but Frey posits that unemployment won’t be as big of a problem as it’s being made out to be.
“The part that’s receiving far less attention is the huge number of new jobs that will replace the ones going away,” writes Frey. He says that autonomous vehicles will be opening up industries surrounding driverless vehicles, such as “ride experience” designers, as well as analysts and engineers focusing on automating and coordinating cars with traffic.
Regardless of how the age of autonomous vehicles affects employment, one thing is almost certain: we’ll all be a lot safer.