Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls

...it tolls for thee, Uber drivers and all who make their living guiding vehicles. The latest sign that the future doesn't need us is Uber's experiment with self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. From Mike Isaac's NYT story:

In many ways, Pittsburgh is the perfect test environment for the company. The city, in essence a peninsula surrounded by mountains, is laid out in a giant triangle, replete with sharp turns, steep grades, sudden speed limit changes and dozens of tunnels. There are 446 bridges, more than in Venice. Residents are known for the “Pittsburgh left,” a risky intersection turn.

Raffi Krikorian, engineering director of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, located in the city’s industrial Strip District, put it this way: “Pittsburgh is the double-black diamond of driving.”

The displacement of human drivers over the next decade or so will be comparable to those of factory workers by automation from 1960 - 2010 and farm workers from 1900 - 1970.