On a personal level I like technology, all sorts of technology. It’s a bit of a hobby for me. Another hobby, one I hope to turn into a viable business is my writing. There is this blog, and I’m writing a book about the collision between business and life of the workforce professional. I’m not much of a futurist and predictions aren’t really the goal of my work. Still there is one prediction that is very easy to make.
If you have been paying any attention to the tech sector news media or any attention to the news out of the auto industry you know that self-driving cars are very much a focus of both industries. Google, or should I say Alphabet, is successfully developing a self driving car. Apple computer, a company well known for its insane levels of secrecy can’t hide the fact that it is researching automobiles as well. It is safe to assume that there will be a self-driving component to any Apple vehicle that is produced. That’s just the tech sector, the automotive sector is driving forward with plans for self-driving Vehicles as well.
All of this makes perfect sense as there are quite a few upsides to a car that is self-driving. First and foremost computers have a tendency to make less mistakes than human beings. This means less roadside fatalities. Then there is the fiscal savings. If you own a logistics company and have a fleet of tractor trailers then you would love to be able to send those tractor trailers on the road without having to pay the salaries of drivers. Imagine the savings if you only needed one driver in a central office to drive twenty trucks remotely. The next step of having those drivers being outsourced and located remotely in some low cost country like India isn’t too far of a jump. This is classic industry disruption and not really all that much to get worried about (unless you hold a CDL that is).
I think the bigger challenge is going to be in the cultural change that comes with self-driving cars. when you consider how technology has impacted the professional individual contributor, it has accelerated the demands of Corporations on the individual. You are expected to use your cell phone when you are traveling to answer emails. you are expected to work on the shared spreadsheet on Sunday night before the big bid is due on Monday. The future is not too difficult to discern when you take into account self-driving cars. Heading into work at six in the morning? Forget quiet time or being able to listen to the radio: you will be expected to prepare for that meeting that they scheduled right at 8 a.m. when you walk in the office. It will get worse, maybe you have to leave to go to pick up your child from daycare. Is it that difficult to see a time when a boss tells a professional “why don’t you just send the car to pick up the kids so you can stay here and get this work done?” I’m sure there are many variants and extensions to this theme that I haven’t even begun to think about.
This will all happen not because of some nefarious secret plan on the part of some evil corporate overlord but as uncounted reactions to the systemic demand for ever more productivity out of the professional workforce. In my mind there is absolutely no question that another area separation between our professional and personal lives will be minimized or eliminated altogether as the inevitable adoption of self-driving cars accelerates.
This is one prediction you can take to the bank, or maybe just have your car drive it to the bank while you stay at the office and get some work done.