50 mind-blowing implications of driverless cars
Geoff Nesnow
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  1. It’s not just driverless vehicles, it’s all sorts of automation, including warehouses and shops and customer services. When I was a young man, if I wanted to do anything with my bank account, I had to go into a building and talk to a human being. Now I do it all with an app or an ATM. Over time, most of the (especially, but not exclusively) urban economy will be running on automatic systems. We will need to find ways to share the benefits — you can’t throw millions of people out of their jobs and let all the money pool in the accounts of Uber and Google. Apart from anything else, where will Uber and Google get their money, if no-one has a job?
  2. None of our current social security solutions (including minimum wage, no matter how high it is) comes within a million miles of addressing this problem. The best, most straightforward, perhaps even only, solution will be a full living Unconditional Basic Income. Whether that’s funded by taxation or fiat money or whatever is a political decision, but it’s either that or armed insurrection. This is not a threat, or even a prediction, it’s a reductio ad absurdum.
  3. I’m a pensioner, and I drive a car that I bought from a friend for £500 (about $650). How am I going to afford to — effectively — get a taxi everywhere? Sure, without drivers they’ll be cheaper, but right now no-one is making a profit when I drive myself somewhere (well, OK, the oil companies, the guy who services my car, the tyre fitters — but driverless cars will need the equivalents of those, too). In this brave new world, will I need to have a credit card before I can even get in a car and take off somewhere? This doesn’t sound like freedom to me, it sounds like an infantile dependence on our corporate overlords.
  4. Over the last two hundred years the increasing technology in the world has been eroding democracy. We have, at times, found ways of counteracting that tendency, but there’s an unceasing ebb and flow and we can never just lean back and say “that’s OK now”. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Sorry, does that sound paranoid? I’m 60. Bite me.
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