Last week I was told about the future by the most interesting man in the world.
A future of driverless cars, factories without humans, countless industries lost forever, the link between a job and your self-worth severed and an explosion in arts and culture. And all of this within the next twenty years, so in my lifetime and yours we will see society transformed.
My epiphany came about over French duck in a Soho restaurant talking to a hero of mine – Kieran Meeke. Who in his time has been a freedom fighter, head of features at Metro and one of the best travel writers in the world. Always ahead of the game, I’d noticed his sudden interest in driverless car technology on Facebook and wanted to quiz him about it.
He said: “It starts with the cars, and then everything will follow, automation will change society, across the world.”
He went on to tell me, it has already started – every major car manufacturer is working on driverless technology and by 2020 they will be on the road. Uber are already trailing the technology and are busy doing deals with American towns, and in Canada there are test routes for driverless cars.
So, when driverless cars, which will be all feeding into a hive computer which tells them how avoid black spots and crashes, will be the norm – imagine how expensive it will be to insure a human driver? What are the major reasons for crashes – humans.
Lorry drivers? That’s the job that the majority of people have in over 40 American states, 3.5 million jobs gone and 250,000 taxi drivers too. And those legions of insurers, their jobs will go too. If you are helping your child to decide what career they want to do when they grow up, you need to know what jobs will be around in 25 years.
If it is to do with humans then that is a safe bet, carers and psychiatrists cannot be replaced by computers, journalists like myself? Well Google are already working on automated articles.
Factories will be run by robots. Amazon is already automating warehousing and delivery, using drones instead of delivery drivers and Apple is automating its factories to maximise profits. But what about humans, that is what Universal Basic Income is about.
Finland is trialling UBI now, the new French socialist leader is a fan, as the Greek darling of the left Yanis Varoufakis. American billionaire Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SolarCity, Tesla, and SpaceX, has broached the subject in America. He said: “There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation.”
Humans will have get paid from the profits of the machines that took their jobs, this has to happen or there will be riots and anarchy.
Kieran added: “What would you do if you were paid not to work?
“You would write that book you always talk about, people will be free to do what they have always wanted to do, there will be an explosion of culture and art unprecedented in our life time. It has only been the last 200 years that humans have rated their self-worth to their jobs, this will change everything.”
He added: “There will be opposition, but you can’t fight what will happen, and people will realise that their iPhone isn’t trying to kill them, people will trust the computers that will be running everything.”
And with that I looked at my smashed iPhone and agreed, and promised myself I will be the most informed journalist about automation and the future.
Join me for the driverless ride…