Technology is changing the truck driving profession, will entrepreneurs find new opportunities?
We live in such technologically advanced times, that mundane jobs can be automated by machines. While technological Luddites may rise up in arms over the loss of jobs from time to time, the overall world benefits greatly from this relief of human effort. For every human mind saved from 40+ hours a week of mundane work, we gain a potential mind that’s efforts can be put towards more fruitful endeavors.
Of course, this is all very positive thinking. Many of the people currently working jobs that will likely be displaced have been working those jobs for decades. Their habits are so very ingrained that the effort required to “update” them into more modern productive vocations may outweigh the benefits.
This is a problem ripe for solving by today’s entrepreneurs. How do you educate an mass of unemployed people whose skills are obsolete? Humans are capable at learning at any age, but the desire to do so seems to deplete in the majority of people as they age. How can you convince someone who is stuck in their ways to enjoy the prospect of learning a new skill?
Lets look at a specific example of potentially displaced workers: Truck drivers. For sake of discussion, we are going to assume that laws aren’t passed limiting the ability of autonomous vehicles to drive on roads.
What will we do if the 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States all lose their jobs in the next half decade? Perhaps laws will be put into place to keep companies from replacing drivers with robots, but the reality is that the robots are multitudes safer at driving than any human. And the cost of an automated driver is far less than the upkeep cost of a human employee. The odds are truly stacked against the truck drivers.
Will we wait to replace truck drivers one by one as they retire or quit? That might be one possible solution, but it seems very unlikely from a capitalistic point of view.
Will the government compensate displaced and uneducated workers with a minimum income? Maybe the more socialist party will win the election and institute such a change, but we can’t count on that yet.
Will a group of entrepreneurs step up and design an education solution? The opportunity exists, even if robots don’t immediately replace millions of workers. Whether warranted or not, the fear is already out there of lost jobs, so surely the market is ripe for a solution to this fear.
Current autonomous trucks still have a human driver present at all times in the cabin. What opportunities might be found with the new found “free” time these truckers can enjoy? If we assume a future of trucks without human pilots, educational opportunities may exist since most truckers will see the inevitable loss of their job looming on the horizon. If we assume a future of autonomous trucks with pilots: entertainment, health, and educational opportunities may exist.
No matter how the specifics pan out, the change is here. We do a pretty good job here in America at smoothing out abrupt change, so I have my doubts about any sort of truck driver robo-apocalypse (aka: extreme job loss). But the landscape is evolving, and with evolution comes many opportunities.