Here’s Some Kool-Aid. Be careful what you drink


Here’s Some Kool-Aid. Be careful what you drink

Boy are we gullible. People say things and we just believe them. Its going to rain tomorrow, Hillary will be elected, The flight is on time, Aliens Ate New York. You know what I mean.

Geoff Nesnow, writing for Hult International Business School, has crafted a piece entitled 73 Mind Blowing Implication of Self Driving Cars and Trucks. From my point of view, he has made up 73 theories, but we will all believe them since they sound reasonable and all things technical are reasonable.

Actually, we believe them because no one is there to counter the statements. Over the next few weeks I’m going to take a few of the “implications” and try to parse them a bit for you. Let’s see how it goes

People won’t own their own cars. Transport will be delivered as a service from companies who own fleets of self-driving vehicles. There are so many technical, economic, safety advantages to the transportation-as-a-service that this change may come much faster than most people expect. Owning a vehicle as an individual will become a novelty for collectors and maybe competitive racers.

Wow! This is something that could be extended to almost anything. Why own a house, a stove, a TV? You could rent them all. It’s like leasing a car. You pay a monthly fee and at the end of a few years you have nothing. And if you don’t think that all the costs of ownership including fuel, maintenance, parking, insurance, depreciation, and the like isn’t built in, you are crazy. In addition, you are paying for the profit of the TaaS provider. I have owned my car for 12 years. Haven’t made a payment for seven. Runs great. I love it, plus its MINE. Am I prepared to live my life at the whim of others.

Software/technology companies will own more of the world’s economy as companies like Uber, Google and Amazon turn transportation into a pay-as-you-go service. Software will indeed eat this world. Over time, they’ll own so much data about people, patterns, routes and obstacles that new entrants will have huge barriers to enter the market

It seems that he believes that all innovation, individual creativity and desire to succeed will just be snuffed out. Will there be no other industries that will be started? Who is going to clean these things? How is the package from an autonomous vehicle UPS truck going to get from the curb to your apartment on the second floor? Do you mean that kids in school won’t be dreaming of new and better ways to…do everything. Transporters, food replicators, planes that fly 2000 MPH. Hotels in orbit or on the moon, time machines, cold fusion, warp drive, flying cars, cure for the common cold. Someone has to invent them, build them, maintain them, etc. It won’t be Google.

Without government intervention (or some sort of organized movement), there will be a tremendous transfer of wealth to a very small number of people who own the software, battery/power manufacturing, vehicle servicing and charging/power generation/maintenance infrastructure. There will be massive consolidation of companies serving these markets as scale and efficiency will become even more valuable. Cars (perhaps they’ll be renamed with some sort-of-clever acronym) will become like the routers that run the Internet — most consumers won’t know or care who made them or who owns them.

Really. So we will all become sheeple. No individuality. We don’t care whether we are sitting on plastic or Fine Corinthian Leather. Does he think that there isn’t a supply chain for building a Chevy? Hundreds of small companies (maybe 1000s) make different parts that GM buys. Why would that change.  Elon Musk is learning quickly how difficult it is to build half a million pre ordered cars. It takes more than a village.

Vehicle designs will change radically — vehicles won’t need to withstand crashes in the same way, all vehicles will be electric (self-driving + software + service providers = all electric). They may look different, come in very different shapes and sizes, maybe attach to each other in some situations. Electric vehicles with no driver controls will require 1/10th or fewer the number of parts (perhaps even 1/100th) and thus will be quicker to produce and require much less labor. There may even be designs with almost no moving parts (other than wheels and motors, obviously).

Don’t be too sure. I’m not certain I want to ride in a vehicle travelling 60 miles an hour that would crack like an egg if it was in an accident. And do you really think that the folks that designed Amazon software and charged you $100 instead of $10 for that widget you bought have such a perfect record that there will be no accidents.

OK  That’s four – There are 69 more to go. I may not have cogent thoughts on every one, but more to come. I know that some of my responses extend beyond transportation, but as you will see, he posits that transportation is such a large part of our lives, this change will affect everything.




John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Have you ever been driving on the highway and wondered about where all those people in all those cars were going? Are all of those trips going to suddenly go away when we have on demand autonomous vehicles to take us where we want to go?

    At some point those who are foreseeing this magical transformation should take a look around at the real world. I, for one can’t think of a single day in the last 2 weeks where I could have accomplished what I did if I didn’t have access to my car. Not saying I couldn’t have survived without it, just saying I would not have been able to do a lot of the things that I wanted to do.

    Try getting your kids to and from school, going to the grocery store, making it to a doctor’s appointment, dropping off and picking up the kids from practice, taking the family out for dinner and a movie and getting to and from work for one week relying solely on Uber. Then decide whether it was easier and more convenient being able to drive yourself or relying on an on demand driving alternative.

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