The A.I. Challenge: What happens when robots replace truck drivers? A fascinating view of one economic theory.


AI is seeping into our conscious but not as quickly as it is seeping into the technology we already use or about to purchase — like Amazon Echo or Financial Service Bots, to name two.

What happens when robots replace drivers? Not just like the Uber Pittsburgh pilot, or those in Silicon Valley, I am speaking of the real truck drivers — and the Pew interactive graphic is a bit stunning to view — never did I imagine in so many states being a truck driver in the dominant job. This email from the Octalysis a Weekly email, which usually has a singular focus on gamification but this week took a social engineering note that blew my mind. Here is the note:

“What will happen to jobs when robots take over?

This is a challenge I’ve thought a lot about during the past few years. As artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation proliferate throughout the world, they’ll begin to rapidly cannibalize jobs faster than we can create new jobs.

Just take a look at self-driving cars. Uber has already begun testing a self-driving fleet in Pittsburgh. Now take a look at this map of the most common job in every state of the US. What will happen to all of the drivers once they’re replaced by robots?

This is why I have my eye on a new experiment Finland is running: basic income.Basic income isn’t new; in fact, many countries like the US have social security programs that provide a level of basic income to its citizens.

However, basic income is different to social security as it aims to change the stigma of social security and help reduce poverty, social exclusion, and bureaucracy, while increasing the employment rate.

I’d like for you to think about the following:

What would happen in your country if people were guaranteed a basic income?

How would you feel if people in your country were guaranteed a basic income?

What is the future of work? As robots takeover more and more jobs, how will the masses find employment?

Let me know your thoughts. I’m interested in learning more about your insights.”

Alfred here: that was the body of the email. And it occurs to me that the Knowledge Economy with the greater need for higher education, plus the Experience Economy — which in my definition is that the greater experience an employee has make their merit and contribution greater than younger employees — are factors which also need to be calculated for. The future is upon us.

Thank you Pew for always trying to make data tell a real story.