Carmageddon is Coming
Angus Hervey

Let me give you some more food for thought: I, like you, am a ‘believer’ in Carmaggedon, and I also agree it will come sooner than later. One ‘proof’ that validates my ‘belief’ is that all major companies in my country which ae related to oil, gas, petrol production and/or production, and even the big power companies, all have been heavily investing in extracting energy out of alternative sources since 2006… ‘as if they feared that the oil economy would disappear overnight’. It might sound strange to you, but in my country (Portugal) we have a free energy market with Spain, where any power company from any country can offer services to the other. Spain offers cheap energy thanks to nuclear power; on our side, we are over 80% on alternative sources (mostly wind, hydroelectric and some solar), peaking to 110% or 120% in the summer (lots of wind and sun). So, yes, ‘Big Oil’ is turning into ‘Big Alternative Energy’, and they have been preparing for over a decade now. So… these are the good news. When Carmaggedon finally arrives in full blast, none of these companies will be affected; in fact, many will actually push for Carmaggedon, because they’re among the largest stakeholders in the non-fossil-fuel industry as well. And this is a Good Thing.

Where Carmaggedon becomes dystopic is not on the alternative power side of things (because most jobs there will adapt: car factories will still produce cars; petrol stations will provide cheap electricity using their space to install solar panels, and earn money from selling things to eat for people waiting to get charged up; petrol distribution companies will push batteries around; and mechanics might have an easier job fixing electric engines, but they will still be needed — they might just charge more for their work to compensate the smaller need to constantly tweak one’s internal combustion engine to keep it going). There is, however, a big but, and you haven’t addressed this at all: with autonomous vehicles, you won’t need lorry drivers, and this will especially be the case in long-haul cargo transportation, where you need to have teams of drivers for journeys over several nights. All of these people will be jobless. And one wonders if that will have an impact? Of course it will: we estimate perhaps 150 million people working in that area which will become jobless, at least in the Western world (this includes, of course bus drivers, taxi drivers, even couriers delivering pizza — all these jobs will disappear).

Such people cannot be ‘retrained’: they have one qualification only, and that is being a professional driver. But companies will be more than willing to let them go and replace them with AIs doing the same job. Even if a lot of new jobs will be created — designing new kinds of batteries, of motors; software engineers writing new AIs; building new peripheral devices to extract information from the streets, etc. — all these require qualifications, skills, and knowledge that cannot simply be imparted to a pizza delivery guy, who got the job in the first place because he didn’t know what to do except driving a bike…

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