We’ve all seen the news segments about the self driving cars from Google, Uber, and Tesla on TV over the past few years, but most of us will just shrug at the idea that we’re going to see a Jetson type of self steering vehicle soon. To most people this type of technology is ‘cute’, but not practical today, and they feel it would be many decades before it even starts impacting them, if at all.
The truth is, it will be here sooner than you think, and it won’t be limited to self driving cars. Boston Dynamics has robots in its laboratories that will scare the crap out of you – they are so realistic and can do things that would’ve seemed impossible just last year. Automation has even started making moves into our healthcare system, wherein robotic technology is now starting to take over surgical procedures. Sure, you will still need a surgeon to manage the robotic technology, but semi-automation is just a step away from full-automation.
The driving force behind all of this is pure and simple, it’s economics. If you can invent a way to produce your widget for less, faster, and more durable than your competition then your company will survive the brutal world of capitalism. Sure there might be individuals who don’t care about the almighty dollar in their quest for innovation – just look at Elon Musk, but even he can’t do it without outside investment. Let’s not forget, those guys will only invest if they expect a return on their investment, and then some…
So how will this impact our society?
- Electric and self driving cars will reach a tipping point in about 3-4 years
- At this point, they will become mainstream, and affordable to the masses. Then its market share will become significant enough that it will replace enough oil on the market to crush the economies of the Middle East, Russia, Venezuela (that ship has sailed already, but for different reasons), and Nigeria
- The U.S., Canada, Norway, etc. will be fine since technological advances will keep pumping oil profitable even at lower margins, but since there’s no need for developing nations to go get oil from far away dangerous places the money will stay within its own economies
- Watch for the next big war to break out in one of those volatile locations, but most likely it will be short lived (see below # 3)
- Low skilled labor will become extinct in the developing world
- Fast food locations will move to automation in about 10 years
- The trucking industry will automate in about 5-8 years (driver-less trucks)
- Warehouses will automate (thanks to Boston Dynamic’s technology and its scary robots) in about 5-6 years
- Goods will be delivered by drone or self driving trucks/vans with robots to the consumers in about 6-8 years
- Your house can be cleaned, pool maintained, and lawn mowed by your own ‘cyborg’ in about 10-15 years
- These scenarios described above will alone replace at least 18 million jobs in about a decade. The problem is, there aren’t any other low skilled labor jobs that could replace these. For individuals to survive and to remain part of at least the middle class they will have to educate themselves and become specialized in an area that cannot be replaced by automation (yet)
- SkyNet will materialize to some extent
- Why risk sending thousands of troops into a dangerous area when you can have sniper drones combined with upgraded satellite and drone technology take out an enemy within minutes or hours – from a military base in Nevada
- Conservatives may not like it, but the U.S. army will shrink in size as you won’t need boots on the ground anymore. It’s too expensive to send a tank battalion across the other side of the globe. Just send in a military plane full with sniper drones and other advanced robotic killing machines, and within hours you can suppress an entire region without risking one life
- Better hope it stays in the hands of the good guys…
- Birthrates will decline
- Advancement in technology and automation will lower birthrates
- We’re already at 1.8 in the U.S. which is below the number in order to sustain the population in the U.S. The only reason we’re still growing is because of – you guessed it – immigrants
- However, when technological advances make its way to Central America as well, the appetite for migrating to the U.S. will diminish drastically (it has already started)
So, the only saving grace for those of you who worry about losing out to technology and automation is the fact that the population will shrink, and thus keeps the poverty rate at bay.
It’s inevitable: technology and automation, but if we embrace it the right way it will make all of our lives easier soon. Now let me go put my deposit down on that new solar roof and Tesla SUV.