Facepalm

Driverless trucks: economic tsunami may swallow one of most common US jobs
America is producing more than ever before, but it is doing so with fewer and fewer workers. Once trucks become automated, where will these jobs go?

Well, those jobs will be gone, won’t they?

Sigh.

Along with buggy whip makers and dunnikin divers.

32 comments on “Facepalm

  1. The trucks will get automated, but I can’t see the delivery service being automated as easily. Trunks may move hub to hub unattended, but the point to point delivery routes will need someone most of the time.

  2. If those jobs go away, the people doing them will do something else? Even if that something else is not a renumerative for them?

    Same as happens with *every* economic shift – whether that be because of a disruptive technology or because a better competitor opens up next door to your business.

    I don’t understand how these people can’t understand that – they seem to get caught up in ‘group A will lose its jobs! And probably become somewhat poorer’ and completely forget about Group B (ie, everyone else and a group several orders of magnitude larger) who will become somewhat richer.

    Yet, these same people will use the latter reasoning as justification for a minimum wage and all subsequent increases of it.

  3. “David Moore
    February 17, 2017 at 7:17 am

    The trucks will get automated, but I can’t see the delivery service being automated as easily. Trunks may move hub to hub unattended, but the point to point delivery routes will need someone most of the time.”

    Drone delivery, telepresence, and time-shared semi-autonomous vehicles.

    One operator could handle multiple delivery vehicles near-simultaneously. Only taking direct control of a single vehicle when necessary, monitoring for such situations otherwise.

  4. I can see how automated vehicles would be more efficient & safer than manually operated ones. Provided all the vehicles on the roads were automated. But if they’re sharing the roads with manually operated vehicles, the drivers of those will game the collision avoidance protocols to gain advantage.
    Because that’s exactly what happens now. The selfish drivers who cut you up, counting on you’ll let them do so to avoid a collision.

  5. “Google parcel carrying robots, here’s one example: https://www.wired.com/2017/02/piaggio-gita-drone/

    Yes, the technology is there to move the goods. It’s the dealing with the customer that isn’t going to be as easy. Telepresence and drones only get you ‘most’ functionality, not all. For residential delivery, maybe enough. For others, not sure it’s as clear in the near-mid future.

  6. “Because that’s exactly what happens now. The selfish drivers who cut you up, counting on you’ll let them do so to avoid a collision.”
    So the self-driving cars will gather loads of evidence with every emergency stop, and the dangerous drivers will be rounded up.

  7. Always wondered where Dunnikin Donuts came from.

    Now I now.

    The job is not dead yet, though. Many domestic treatment plants have their medhanical gubbins submerged in the shitso crawling is necessary if not diving.

  8. Andrew M,

    the railways used to be able to handle it, RoRo was designed specifically to do that but a decision was made to put containers on trucks because they didn’t want to be held hostage to the monolithic rail unions.

    Autonomous Trucks are already in use on secure sites like mines/quarries, it is only a matter of time before huge convoys of ATs are thundering down the exclusively AV outside lane of the motorways.
    Before that happens though, huge numbers of public sector managers and workers are going to find themselves automated out of employment, these people are expensive, so the savings are greatest.

  9. These people live forever in the present; they have no knowledge of the past and no concept of the future.

    Have they realised the streetlights come on automatically now (assuming your council hasn’t switched them off to kill off pensioners, sorry, save money) and that lamp lighters no longer do it?

  10. Autonomous Trucks are already in use on secure sites like mines/quarries, it is only a matter of time before huge convoys of ATs are thundering down the exclusively AV outside lane of the motorways.

    Unless those outside lanes are as restricted and controlled as mines and quarries, I very much doubt it.

  11. “Unless those outside lanes are as restricted and controlled as mines and quarries, I very much doubt it.”

    Yes. These people just consistently fail to understand how hard it is to deal with the complexity that the semi-chaotic normal environment creates, especially when that complexity relies on vision to solve.

  12. Tim Newman,

    “We might as well be talking about nuclear fusion as automated trucks on public roads. How many years has it been “just around the corner” now?”

    The problem with automated vehicles are the same as all automation: the 90/90 rule, which itself comes from the Pareto Principle. The more and more of a problem you try and automate, rather than leaving to humans, the more expensive it gets.

    I’ve written a ton of reports in my career out of software that can be summed up as “this would be really complicated for the software to do and only affects a tiny number of cases, so pass it to a human”.

    What people are seeing with Google’s work is that they’ve solved 90-95% of the problem. It gives the illusion that we’re almost there with full automation, but what they’ve automated is what’s straightforward. But they’ve still got to sort out rain, fog and icy roads. Let alone all the other weird things out there like fords or horses. Will they pull over if a police car flashes at them? Will they move over if an ambulance is approaching? You’ve got to write all of those algorithms or abstract all of that to an AI. How are you going to protect these trucks from robberies?

    And until you solve those problems, you don’t destroy the job. It might be done better. But it’s not gone.

  13. Autonmous trucks will still have a human in the cab. And a dog. The human is there to feed the dog; the dog is there to keep the human from touching anything.

  14. As the Dunnikin divers of the ancient twin cities of Ankh-Morpork often say whilst doing the car mechanics intake of breath…”Non ante septem dies proxima, Sqviri!” (“Not before next week, squire!”)

    I’m far happier paying some scrote as a Dunnikin diver than fondle the contents of my own septic tank or wander the underground highways of the sewerage network.

    I believe they are called Water Recycling Engineers nowadays…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/nyregion/09sewer.html

  15. I bought a DVD set of documentaries from the 30s/40s/50s some time ago, and watching how people did things back in those days was quite amazing. One of the documentaries just follows the process of paying a bill by cheque, from mailing it, through to the balance updating on the bank acounts. The number of people who were involved in the process who have now been replaced by a web site and a few mouse clicks was quite staggering. No-one seems to be complaining that there are no longer any jobs taking cardboard bank account records out of filing cabinets, updating the numbers, and putting them back.

    Back on the truck front, as I understand it, one benefit of largely-automated trucks is that they can be driving pretty much 24-hours a day, whereas the driver is limited to a certain number of hours by law. So you can still have a driver on board to handle unexpected situations, but they’ll be asleep or watching pr0n most of the time.

    That does, of course, require that the truck is capable of detecting situations it doesn’t understand and stopping safely so the driver can take over. Rather than just rolling on and crashing.

    I doubt we’ll ever see full-automated trucks, because local manufacturing will make them obsolete before the last bugs are worked out. Maybe on Mars, but they’ll have to be able to drive across whatever terrain is in between them and their destination, as I can’t see anyone building major highways there any time soon.

  16. A wee bit of cynicism will go a long way.
    Autonomous vehicles will be imposed by stealth.
    Who noticed when ABS or ESP became standard on cars?
    It’ll become an insurance requirement to have anti-collision or whatever switched on to do over 50 on the motorway / freeway. Once thats established the ratchet will move one more notch to include lane guidance and on and on it goes

  17. “one benefit of largely-automated trucks is that they can be driving pretty much 24-hours a day”

    Sure, til they unionize.

  18. “one benefit of largely-automated trucks is that they can be driving pretty much 24-hours a day”

    Sure, til they unionize.

    Quite what demands a robotic truck would make I am uncertain. It’s doubtful that money would have any meaning for them, unless it is to pay for “Blackjack and Robot Hookers” as Futurama’s Bender would say.

    God can only imaging what a truck’s robot hooker would look like…

  19. “Autonmous trucks will still have a human in the cab. And a dog. The human is there to feed the dog; the dog is there to keep the human from touching anything”

    +1. And if the RMT or ASLEF are the union they’ll need another human to open the doors.

  20. We’ll only recognise that automated vehicles have become normal in hindsight. It’s like smartphones: they didn’t get the capabilities or the market penetration they have now all at once, but they became ubiquitous so smoothly that I doubt you could identify the tipping point. We can all remember a time before smartphones, and now it’s hard to imagine life without them. It will be the same with autonomous vehicles.

  21. “It will be the same with autonomous vehicles.”

    Maybe. If I were a teenager, I’d try to goof them. Trick them into wrecking. How fun would that be?

  22. I guess about as much fun as throwing a paving slab off a bridge through a car windscreen, and likely to attract roughly the same penalties.

  23. “I guess about as much fun as throwing a paving slab off a bridge through a car windscreen, and likely to attract roughly the same penalties.”

    Uhhh . . . Bloke, there’s nobody in it. Autonomous has meaning.

  24. At least one of the kids I knew at school would stand out in the middle of the road, just to see if the truck stopped.

    I do sometimes wonder what happened to him. I never saw a local news story about someone running him over while he was lying in the road, but often expected to see one.

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