“We’ve been disappointed over the last year to see a lot of stories about how self-driving trucks are going to be this huge problem for truck drivers,” says Alden Woodrow, the product lead for self-driving trucks at Uber. “That’s not at all what we think the outcome is going to be.”
For one, Uber does not believe that self-driving trucks will be doing “dock to dock” runs for a very long time. They see a future in which self-driving trucks drive highway miles between what they call transfer hubs, where human drivers will take over for the last miles through complex urban and industrial terrain.
The essay by Madrigal linked above goes on to point out that another consequence would be that drivers would stay closer to home rather than do long hauls. I guess the model would be that truckers would become more like harbor pilots. (I knew some harbor pilots when I lived in Delaware. Those were good jobs that were highly sought after in the region.)
I had a conversation with some colleagues earlier this week about possible futures for human/machine work. An interesting observation was that for the foreseeable future, the most likely scenario is going to be human assisted artificial intelligence rather than autonomous artificial intelligence workers.
There’s a growing trend in the chess world that the best players aren’t human and aren’t computers. The best players these days in absolute terms are humans that are working with computer assistants. Apparently, it’s a whole new competitive space emerging. Perhaps it’s a peek into what might be coming more broadly.