Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Creative destruction is waiting.........

............to be unleashed by "autonomous cars."  If you fancy yourself prescient, ponder on this for a while:

"Autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030, and the sweeping change they bring will eclipse every other innovation our society has experienced. They will cause unprecedented job loss and a fundamental restructuring of our economy, solve large portions of our environmental problems, prevent tens of thousands of deaths per year, save millions of hours with increased productivity, and create entire new industries that we cannot even imagine from our current vantage point."
-Zack Kanter, as excerpted from here.

Color me doubtful about many of the claims.  

     The author cites a Pricewaterhousecooper study that suggests the number of vehicles in the U. S. of A. will drop from 245 million (The Oracle Google pegs the number at 254 million) to 2.4 million.  Really?  How is that even remotely possible?   
     In 2014 the Big Three automobile companies sold 1.7 million pick-up trucks.  My guess is that a significant percentage of those sales went to people who use the truck as part of their day job.  Think they will give them up?
     I queried my young son on the issue.  He opined that having a car (that was solely his) provided an undeniable sense of freedom (he also mentioned something about the glory of "muscle" cars, but I really didn't want to hear about it).  Maybe big city folks will be willing to cede that, but out here in the hinterlands, freedom of movement is still considered pretty important.
     The author quotes a study done by UC-Berkeley that shows that among the ride-sharing cohort, car ownership was cut in half.  One wonders if the participants of the study were college students.
      But, I'm just nit-picking.   Change is coming.  The free enterprise system cannot function without "creative destruction."  It is an intergral part of the deal.  We would all do well to ponder the opportunites and consequences (intended or otherwise) of autonomous cars and trucks.  

thanks glenn

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