Tag Archives: Automation

Will the Oil Industry Collapse in Less than a Decade?

As the engines of disruption continue in the form of automation, one trend I keep following is the coming changes to transportation. No, I don’t mean the fabled hyperloop (though I’m following that too). I’m thinking of electric vehicles.

Seth Miller over at an outfit called NewCo Shift hypothesizes that a major shakeup in the oil industry and our car culture is coming sooner than we might have thought — all based on replacing the internal combustion engine. You can compare his predictions with what the car companies themselves have predicted.

I’d say their predictions would place the collapse or restructuring would happen closer to the 2025 – 2030 timeframe, but it I’m wondering how many more cars any of us will individually own in the future.

The “Cadillac of Self-Driving Cars” May Be… Cadillac

One of the trends I casually, yet actively, watch is how “self-driving” automation is coming along. I’m sure many of us have followed Google’s efforts as well as Tesla. So I was shocked to read Alex Davies’ piece in Wired about the self-driving technology of Cadillac… which I suppose may mainly point to my pre-conceived notions of Cadillac.

But I bet I’m not the only one.

The Computer has Reached a Verdict

When I talk about automation with people, I often like to point out how the scope of automation now appears to encompass what knowledge workers do.

Indeed, from what I’ve read, various implementations of automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence are already coming into play in both the legal and healthcare sectors of the economy. In other words, well beyond traditional notions of automation, which usually involve manufacturing and factory work.

While I had heard of algorithms being used to help do legal and medical “triage” of cases, I hadn’t heard of algorithms used in sentencing… but apparently they are, as Jason Tashea details in his recent article in Wired.

As hinted with my gerrymandering post earlier this week, I think it’s a good idea to figure out how our government is reaching certain decisions and what said decisions are based on. I’d really rather read about dystopian futures than live in them.

Automation and American Growth: Robert Gordon Edition

I’ve been reading and commenting a decent amount about automation this year, enough to make it seem inevitable. A popular topic with journalists and feature writers has been the impending automation of transportation which I noted back in May. Just recently, Vox ran another article about self-driving trucks and pending unemployment.

As the topic appears to be developing into a “future trend trope,” I was very intrigued to learn about the work of Robert Gordon, which Vox also did a piece on. Of course, I first learned about Robert Gordon when I got caught up listening to the Freakanomics podcast as they did an episode about American economic growth this Spring which prominently featured Robert Gordon. There’s also a transcript of a similar segment on Marketplace from 2012.

It certainly makes me consider what the economy might and can transform into.

Continuing to Explore Universal Basic Income (UBI)

I’ve been following various articles about basic income (or Universal Basic Income – UBI) as I find it an intriguing potential solution as we trundle towards ever-greater automation in every aspect of the economy.

Matthew Yglesias over at Vox writes about how UBI could tackle poverty — and indeed for some conservative and libertarian proponents of UBI, its potential to tackle poverty and related ills more efficiently than other social programs is one of its appeals.

Ezra Klein responds to the article (also in Vox) about how, beyond the aspect of how we afford it, implementing UBI would force a change on how we view work — and whether changing that view could even be done. Given how automation is upending what ‘work’ entails,  I think our view of ‘work’ has to change — and it could be a very welcome improvement in our society if we were not overwhelmingly defined by our jobs-of-the-moment.

Recommended Reading: Coming Changes to Transportation

One of the reasons I’ve become more interested in learning about basic income and future potential economic models has been what appears to be the growing automation of everything. In other words, we’ve moved beyond automating factory and manufacturing processes (though we still automate that and refine that automation), and into automating service and analytical processes.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the race to implement the self-driving car, because when the self-driving car becomes more omnipresent, it will absolutely shake up delivery and transportation paradigms we live with today.

I’ve read a number of different pieces about various companies’ attempts to implement the self-driving car and their varying successes. This longer piece by David Roberts in Vox goes into how the future of transportation will radically re-define “how we get around” in terms of autonomous (self-driving) vehicles, vehicle electrification, and the integration between those two.

Somehow, this seemed fitting on the eve of one of the great commuter holidays.

More on Robots and the Automation of Everything

Following up on my post last week about robots and the law, I read a piece by Gideon Lewis-Kraus in Wired about a robot hotel.

Of course it’s in Japan.