Those things, you cannot fight them, you cannot be against them, you have to embrace them, you have to see that this is the future and to adapt and be ready for that.So there it is again. There's nothing we can do about the way the world is changing. We cannot fight it, cannot even be against it. We just have to be prepared.
Which is how, if you ask me, we ended up with President-elect Donald J. Trump. When everyone in the establishment says that there's nothing we can do for millions of ordinary working people and the places they live, and we just have to take our lumps and move on, and only a demagogic madman says that there actually are ways we can help ordinary people keep the things they want to keep, then people vote for the demagogic madman.
I have been polling my friends about the question of banning self-driving trucks – admittedly in the context of Trump's victory – and so far every person I have talked to, but one, has either agreed that we should or at least suggested we look into it. All but one person I know thinks it would be awful to let automation wipe out 4 million working class jobs. The one exception is my 19-year-old son who passionately hates the very idea of work and longs for a world in which all labor is done by robots and we all sit around collecting universal basic income and playing video games.
On the other hand, some truckers are not on board with this plan. I've read about twenty articles on the future of trucking this morning, and I have encountered several opinions like this one:
The idea that we’ll go to automated trucks and then drivers will sleep while the truck drives — not a chance in hell. I would never do that. It would make the job not worth doing. Once you’re only paying a guy to drive the final miles into a city, we’re certainly not going to get a raise for that.The issue is not just having a job, because thousands of people would resist taking a job that has been created by a government program to give people work. This is especially true of men in the rural areas and small towns from which most truck drivers come. Truck drivers enjoy thinking that the economy depends on their skills and efforts, and they don't want to feel like useless fifth wheels. Plus, as this driver says, the mere existence of technology that can replace truck drivers will put downward pressure on drivers' wages.
So as we were just discussing in another context, a ban on self-driving trucks might be another idea that seems good at first but turns out on close examination to be unworkable. But where are the workable ideas? And what can we do about a future in which software takes over more and more jobs?
Map at the top, from NPR, shows the most common job in each state.