Driverless Cars Will Kill Jobs

Driverless Cars Will Kill the Most Jobs in Select US States

Yellow taxi cabs line up outside the Delta Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York.


Todd Maisel | NY Daily News | Getty Images
Yellow taxi cabs line up outside the Delta Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York.

If Silicon Valley gets its way, it won’t be long until every vehicle in the country has nobody behind the wheel.

Driverless car technology is expected to reduce labor costs, fuel costs and accidents, but it will also be a complete disaster for the millions of Americans who work as long-haul truckers, bus drivers or cab drivers. Truck driving alone is the most common job across vast swathes of the United States, and they could all be unemployed within years.

Almost 3 percent of all working American are drivers of some sort — more than 2 percent are truck drivers, 0.4 percent are bus drivers and 0.3 percent are cabbies and other types of drivers, according to Census Bureau occupational data. But those jobs aren’t evenly distributed across the country, and some places are going to get slammed by the automation of jobs more than others.

According to the 2014 Census data, there are more than 4.4 million Americans aged 16 and over working as drivers, and the vast majority of those are men who are categorized as “driver/sales workers and truck drivers.” In states like Wyoming and Idaho, the percent of the employed civilians working in driving jobs exceeds four percent. (The District of Columbia is the lowest by far, at only 1.6 percent).

It could be many years before vehicle automation takes those jobs. Even when driverless cars and trucks hit the road, regulators will expect them to continue to contain a human operator for the foreseeable future. But eventually, the economic endgame is to leave the drivers behind. Companies like Uber aren’t investing in driverless technology so they can continue to pay drivers:

“The reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car — you’re paying for the other dude in the car,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said years ago. “When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.”

And self-driving trucks have already been tested — the company Uber purchased to help develop its self-driving cars also plans to have thousands of trucks equipped with test technology by 2017. Those trucks will still have drivers behind the wheel, but like Uber’s cars, it’s hard to imagine they’ll be there for long.

Some states look like they’ll be particularly hard-hit, but the problem looks even worse if you zoom in and look at the same data by congressional district. Some areas — like the Bronx and Queens in New York City, and Hoboken, New Jersey — rely on driving jobs for nearly 9 percent of their work forces.

For men, who make up the majority of drivers, the situation is even more dire — in some places, 10 to 15 percent of the male workforce could find themselves newly unemployed.

What To Do To Stop Driverless Cars?
So, how do we stop driverless cars? First, I do not agree that it won’t kill jobs. To stop the progression of driverless cars: You can write, you can phone, you can blog and protest against driverless cars. There are also many ways that one can stop driverless cars individually. Some simple ways – when you see a car without a driver, get in front of it and slow down, don’t let it pass, maybe slow the driverless car to a stop and keep it stopped. For delivery vehicles, I can see people stopping the cars and robbing them, since there would be no human casualties these driverless cars would be an easy target. I wouldn’t condone this or robbing passengers of driverless Uber cars, but they would be more susceptible. Other ways, since these driverless cars depend on computers and GPS, obtaining a GPS jamming instrument and aiming it at the driverless car would make it inoperable. There are computer hackers that could have the car’s computer download a counterfeit map program which could lead the cars astray, or, in another way, a program, that alters where the satellites are perceived can also spell trouble for driverless cars. And finally, sue the car manufacturers for millions for any injury caused by driverless, soulless cars that don’t value human pain, suffering or lives.
This not just a battle against driverless cars but a battle against automation. The United States has embraced automation to the fullest. This is because American companies since the 1980’s have become the greediest, while at the same time, care the least about having any employees. Corporations are making record profits, yet do not expand the work force or increase their wages. (How is this GOP Tax Plan supposed to increase jobs by cutting taxes to corporations?) We are people and we do not need to join the corporate games.
How many times have you gone into a store – a mega-hardware store, a supermarket, or a department store that has vast amounts of space yet you can’t find one worker on the floor? If you are lucky enough to find something after hours of endless and aimless wandering, you, then take your item to check out, and what do you see? Multiple self-check-out stands, but only one manned check out stand. And there is a long line for either. In contrast, in Japan, where one thinks everything is automated, the scene couldn’t be more different. In the department stores, there are multiple sales people waiting to help you out at every turn. In the elevator, they have paid people who are operating the elevator, and there are human cashiers who are ready to check you out without any waiting. It is about service, ultimate service. In the US, it’s about volume and profits, damn the consumers.
It is not that I am against technology. I think technology should assist people, but not replace them. The exception would be eliminating very dangerous or very dirty jobs, like working in the sewers or coal-mining, now that I would approve of. But getting rid of drivers and losing 12 million US jobs? To that I say no.
Buy American, keep your neighbors employed.

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