Excellent article and enjoyed it immensely. I think you’re being a tad bit overly optimistic. I don’t see the cost dropping to that of a cup of coffee. There is a lot of overhead for any technology; to implement and maintain. Albeit the costs are dropping, they are still there (I own a technology company). The overall total ownership cost for an employee in the 1980’s to own and use a PC was in the neighborhood $400 to $500 a month. It is now around $150 a month. It took us thirty five years to get there.
The second issue is driver-less cars themselves. AI is not true AI. It’s deep learning, not cognitive learning. You can drop a two year old into any foreign country in the world and in two years they will be speaking the language fluently, without any data set of that language. You cannot do this with AI. It has to have a deep data set to correctly add to it’s knowledge. Neural networks greatly increase the speed at which they do this but that is not cognitive learning. There is no perfect example to this than what happened in the accident with Tesla in self driving mode; the vehicle was unable to identify something a human would have been to identify almost immediately; because it was not in its data set. Or the issues that they are having driving at night, four ways stops and aggressive drivers.
The problem with cognitive learning is we do not understand how it works. Which makes it difficult to replicate in computers.
Having said that, you are entirely correct with your assessment that this is the third way of technology impacts on our society. AI will make (and already has) a huge impact on repetitive jobs and I can definitely see autonomous car only lanes in the near future replacing toll roads. I can also see cities such as Hong Kong, New York, and Tokyo where space is a premium adopting these technologies much more quickly than states such as Texas, where I live.
Having lived through the technology revolution of the 1980’s through today and remembering all the glorious promises that were made and what actually occurred I have a much tempered view of the future.