Unintended consequences of driverless cars

The presentations yesterday were great, though perhaps too based on the present. The following is largely copied from the unintended ways self driving cars will change our world and needs consideration.


Driving could become illegal.

“Let’s put it bluntly: humans are shitty drivers. The whole idea of giving every adult the right to drive a two-ton death machine is pretty dumb.”

The Technology Will Lead to Massive Public Surveillance

“Paired with face-recognition technology, a network of self-driving cars could identify and track any pedestrian in sight.”

Owning a Car Will be a Foreign Concept to your Kids

“you get all the benefits of owning a car, pay less, and you never have to worry about maintenance or finding a parking spot. In a future where self-driving cars are so cheap and convenient, the idea of owning a car will be silly.”

Traffic Will Be Virtually Nonexistent

“in a system where cars can communicate with each other at the speed of light, an overarching traffic management system could make this a reality, reducing traffic to its optimal minimum.”

Driverless Cars Will Wipe Out Millions Of Jobs…

Taxi drivers, bus drivers… any driver will be redundant, but that’s not all. “In a world without any drivers, parking spots, and traffic lights, there is not a lot of work left for street police.”

…And Transform The Economy As We Know It.

“automation is expected to wipe out about half of US jobs within the next two decades. … Future generations will think of human drivers the same way as we now think of town criers or elevator operators.”

“Historically, work has always been about solving problems, but somewhere along the way we confused it for a way to keep ourselves busy. I believe this is fundamentally wrong. I believe in human potential, and I believe it is first by freeing ourselves from the menial, automatable jobs that we can ultimately break free and reach a higher level of self-actualization as a society.”

While this might be the case for a lucky few, this last paragraph seems rather optimistic. It is difficult to imagine the wealthy caring enough about the situation of unemployed taxi drivers to see a significant transfer of wealth (and a corresponding change in the gini coefficient).

If the highest level in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was ‘mutual’ rather than ‘self’ actualisation, then the collaborative sharing economy, and resulting disintermediation, might ultimately result in a cultural shift towards a value system that affords ‘self-actualisation as a society”.

Psychologists: what might Maslow II: a hierarchy of collective needs include?

One thought on “Unintended consequences of driverless cars

  1. John Mahon

    Very interesting read. My thoughts align with that concept raised that historically work and problem solving go hand in hand, but the “problem – solution” pair is that mentality persists, that keeping busy is needed for self actualization. I see trends in family members and friends become the people they want to be through hanging out and working with like minded folks, which leads my cognition to tend for mutual rather than solely self-driven (originating?) social advancement. Maybe though, in north wales autonomy of transport will maintain belatedness to alleviate culture shock for locals, when their bus turns up on time. I hope we keep racecars too.

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