Global and local media has been focused on the unfortunate accident of a pedestrian in Arizona being run over by a self driving uber car. I had the opportunity to discuss these and other technology issues on the Agenda at Dubai Eye radio station. While the accident is truly shocking, what is also shocking is the sheer scale of the self driving car trials. In total self driving cars have driven 5 million plus miles on US roads. In contrast an average American car is driven 12,000 miles. As technology improves and gets better, the number of fatalities per mile driven will go down , as they did with driving in the early days. The accident will put a lot of regulatory scrutiny on the safety aspects of these cars, one area which is sure to be overlooked is the impact they have on jobs in the transportation industry.
UAE alone has around 700 thousand people that work in the transportation and storage industry. How many of them will be needed, when self-driving cars are here and how far before that change. The impact does not stop just there, what happens to all the highway stopovers and restaurants which serve tired drivers. More self-driving cards equals less tired drivers equals less pit stops. On a ten year basis, while people can disagree on the quantum of job losses, everybody will agree it will be significant. And who is going to be working with these drivers, waiters and other similar professions like maids, which AI & automation threatens.
Our work at rise deals with these and other challenges head on. We realize that they need to be better prepared financially and professionally not only for their retirement, but also for their next career. While we don’t have all the answers yet and the scale of the challenge is humbling — we believe we are already having a significant impact on thousands of maids we work with on a regular basis to help them grow. We have come a long way, but in some ways we are just getting started.