Tuesday, 19 May 2015

bypass or great big convoy

Via the ever-excellent Kottke comes this rather profound study and projection of how self-driving vehicles will alter the economy and particularly the gas-food-lodging infrastructure built to support commercial trucking. While it does not take much boldness to imagine a phalanx of safer, more efficient robot guided convoys taking truckers out of the drivers’ seats as it has already come to pass, but the impact does not of course stop with this last lament of middle-class bread-winners.
The article is written from an American perspective and by analogy compares the seismic changes that could occur to those communities that the interstate freeway system passed by and withered for the sake of expedience, but I think the analysis is completely universal. With manufacturing increasingly retreating into yonder tightfistedness, goods are forever being shuttled back and forth. Consuming merchandise created and delivered by machine, vast swathes of the human workforce (and ultimately, all of it) become redundant and without access to meaningful employment. The untenable situation is accelerating to an important junction, wherein either there is no demand to satisfy the production-capacity because no one has the tender to pay for it or money becomes a rather meaningless trifle and in a utopian society, humans are at last allowed to enjoy the fruit of their labour. I suppose that’s precisely the point of progress but it is hard for me to imagine that the robber-barons might herald this event joyfully—especially if they knowing ushered in their own severance. What do you think? Will those automated cars drive us all off a cliff or make our existence better by abolishing capital?