“The only human beings left in the modern supply chain are truck drivers”. In the Guardian newspaper article of October 13, 2017, author Dominic Rushe relates his experiences talking to truck drivers at the world’s biggest truck stop – “Iowa 80” – about the possible prospects of losing their jobs to autonomous trucks.
Similar to our experience interviewing people whose jobs are at risk through automation/AI, Rushe also observes that the vast majority of truckers seem to be in denial. Our question would be, what do you call that? Mass Denial? Mass Repression? Or even Mass Sublimation, if significant portions of certain sectors of the economy lose their jobs to automation, and unleash fury on immigrants instead?
Rushe also interviews Finn Murphy, author of The Long Haul, the story of a long-distance truck driver. Finn Murphy states that the days of the truck driver as we know him are coming to an end. Trucking is a $700bn industry, in which a third of costs go to compensating drivers, and, he says, if the tech firms can grab a slice of that, they will.
Finn continues, “The only human beings left in the modern supply chain are truck drivers. If you go to a modern warehouse now, say Amazon or Walmart, the trucks are unloaded by machines, the trucks are loaded by machines, they are put into the warehouse by machines. Then there is a guy, probably making $10 an hour, with a load of screens watching these machines. Then what you have is a truckers’ lounge with 20 or 30 guys standing around getting paid. And that drives the supply chain people nuts,” he says.
The goal, he believes, is to get rid of the drivers and “have ultimate efficiency”.
“I think this is imminent. Five years or so. This is a space race – the race to get the first driverless vehicle that is viable,” says Murphy. “My fellow drivers don’t appear to be particularly concerned about this. They think it’s way off into the future. All the people I have talked to on this book tour, nobody thinks this is imminent except for me. Me and Elon Musk, I guess.”
Take a look at the article, it is a good read. And coincides with our interview experience. Sam Harris opens his TEDtalk discussing the denial problem in regards to AI, and this is more of the same.
Further research is needed, if we are to understand the challenges confronting society as these changes begin.