Without evaluating the likelihood of the changes described (I think the author gets the impact on manufacturing a bit wrong, even accepting his priors) or the timeline, I’m curious what folks think about the political effects of a transformation in transport.
Most people—experts included—seem to think that the transition to driverless vehicles will come slowly over the coming few decades, and that large hurdles exist for widespread adoption. I believe that this is significant underestimation.
Autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030, and the sweeping change they bring will eclipse every other innovation our society has experienced. They will cause unprecedented job loss and a fundamental restructuring of our economy, solve large portions of our environmental problems, prevent tens of thousands of deaths per year, save millions of hours with increased productivity, and create entire new industries that we cannot even imagine from our current vantage point.
In particular, I’m wondering what a progressive coalition looks like in this world; we simultaneously reach (and indeed, vastly exceed plausible estimate of success) goals in safety, energy use, environmental impact, and urban livability, while also laying waste to vast swaths of the working class. Does a move to autonomous vehicles continue and enhance the urban renaissance, or does it revitalize suburbia by significantly reducing the costs of long-range commuting?