Aug 1, 2017 - Economy & Business

What truckers and taxi drivers will do after autonomous driving

Don Ryan / AP

The most convincing evidence promoted by automation doomsayers, who argue that we are about to enter an era of mass unemployment, are the roughly 4 million motor-vehicle operator jobs that are put at risk by self-driving car technology.

But Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert argues in Quartz that even though her firm predicts that "autonomous vehicle fleets will begin being introduced in 2020," and start doing the jobs of human drivers by the middle of next decade, we shouldn't be overly concerned about the impact of the technology on labor markets.

What today's truck and taxi drivers will do: Engelbert argues that self-driving technology will make getting around cheaper, leaving consumers with more money to spend that will support different types of jobs. These include aid work for the growing elderly populations and jobs in the new "mobility services" sector, with companies that manage fleets of autonomous vehicles, including logistics planning and maintenance.

Trucking's slow decline: Engelbert says that the long-haul trucking industry actually faces a chronic shortage of workers, and that self-driving trucking technology could help alleviate that shortage. "Since [self-driving] vehicles can operate for much longer periods without stopping, fewer total drivers would be needed, helping to alleviate the shortage. The jobs that remain could be less fatiguing and require shorter stints away from home (again, because the truck can operate almost constantly)."

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