Spencer Kelly
Feb 23, 2018 · 2 min read

I think it’s a bit different this time around though. In the US, 5 million people are employed in the transportation industry, and self driving cars are poised to replace almost all of those jobs. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is a bad thing, and I don’t even think it is localized to transportation, but I do think we need it goes beyond simple technological evolution.

There are actually so many jobs in transportation that there are towns that rely on truck traffic for business. Drive along highway 5 here in California, and you’ll see some of them. So it’s not just the automation of trucks that need drivers that will cause jobs to be lost, but the loss of people in those trucks will itself cause job loss.

And what are they supposed to do when they are fired? Getting retrained for a new job takes a lot of time without pay. And if you live in a small town, skilled work may not even be in demand. So they’ll either have to move (which is expensive) or accept whatever low pay work they can get. Understand that I don’t think this will be the case for everyone, just a large enough number of them to make it a big problem.

We really need to push for a culture that doesn’t base peoples worth on their employment. Once we detach ourselves from the idea that it’s everyone’s duty to have a steady job, we can fix the laws to allow people to live while unemployed. Basic income is a great way to do that, but there are many ideas out there.

Spencer Kelly

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I write about Human and Machine Learning