Robo-Cars also known as the autonomous cars, are seen by many as the gateway to the future for driving. Almost every week there is some new item or invention that heralds the imminent demise for our human-operated automobiles. Mobile companies such as Canada's Blackberry, left in the background as technology advances, pledges to recast itself into the forefront by becoming a developer of software for these robo-cars.
Did you ever wonder why the sudden rush for robo-cars? Consumers are not demanding these and neither are they a necessity for the economy or for political gain. It could never be for the safety of the pedestrian or for the safety of drivers. The only other reason could be for corporate greed because seriously, can you imagine being piloted through rush-hour traffic in a box with a navigation beam, computer circuitry and a sensor array? No thank you. I prefer driving myself than being terrified of being short-circuited in this autonomous bubble called a robo-car.
Maybe there are consumers that are clamoring for the advancement of this technology, but they have not come out in the open with it. All the evidence for automated vehicles may point toward the shipping industry in the foreseeable near future because of its money-saving abilities in this industry. Let's look at the economical aspect first. Economist James Bessen of Boston University wrote in the Harvard Business Review in March 2016 that technological innovation has exacerbated income equality. On one hand, automation and computerization have not necessarily killed jobs but on the other hand, it has created more jobs but with a large income bracket gap.
Thus, employment is not the issue with technological innovation, only the quality and the pay level of the jobs that are available. To clarify, Bensen is quoted in his article, "New computer technologies require major new skills," and, "Workers who learn these skills see their wages grow, but many workers have difficulty in acquiring the new skills." As a result, he states, "…their wages have been stagnant, leading to a growing wage gap."
While Rio Tinto, a mining company in Australia has begun moving iron ore using driverless trucks since 2016, Olivia Solon of The Guardian also reported in an article that 10 billion tons of freight is hauled across the United States every year by more than 3 million professional truck drivers. Across the border in Canada, its 2011 census regarding its labour-force survey ties retail sales with transport-truck driving, as the most common job for its male population.
With the implementation of autonomous vehicles, these highly-paid remote, northern truck-driving jobs would most likely be the first to go. What then happens to the employees displaced by this technological advancement? Of course, they would search and find other jobs, but the social cost may be high as new jobs can be lower paying as well as precarious.
The money companies would save through this automation, would they use some to re-train their former drivers? The view of most of the economists is that education is the only lasting offset for these displaced truck drivers. But, would there be a program for these employees who would be replaced by automated transport?
Another very important issue is that of safety. NighiKalra, a researcher, is quotedin her discussion with the Popular Mechanics magazine as saying that, "If I want to prove through rest driving that autonomous vehicles are safer than humans, I've got to drive them at least 100 million miles without a fatality." Stories of Google's self-driving cars have left some of us doubtful as to its virtual infallibility, involved in a handful of human error crashes since its testing started in 2009. As of 2016 Spring, these robo-cars have logged over a million miles, but a study released in April of that year from RAND, was reported in the same magazine as stating that the tests were of no significance statistically.
Life and death of persons in potential robo-car crashes a major factor when the machine has a decision to make. For instance, the automated chip controlled by artificial intelligence would calculate, according to an algorithm, the best course of action to take to minimize the impact of loss of life it an accident were to take place, say if a robo-car is headed toward a bus filled with children. Would artificial intelligence tell the car to swerve into the brick wall to save the children but cause death to its own passenger?
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