It’s inevitable. As artificial intelligence and robotics continue to become integrated into more and more industries, humankind needs to prepare to accept autonomous technology into our daily lives and workforces. From medicine to customer service, human jobs will soon begin to be taken by robotic or AI replacements. This means not only that societies and governments will soon have to ensure that these displaced workers can find new jobs or source of income, but also that businesses and customers will have to adapt to an entirely new workforce. According to most indicators, one of the first sectors to see a fully automated workforce will be long-distance trucking and other logistics jobs. The world’s largest logistics company, DHL, has just issued a warning that logistics companies need to be prepared for an autonomous future, or risk finding themselves on the losing side of the oncoming robot revolution.
Well, an economic and technological revolution. Not, like, a scary revolution with terminators and Skynet. Yet. Still, a complete loss of human workers in a major industry will bring on a paradigm shift in how businesses operate, change how customers interact with businesses, and open up new possibilities for human-robot relationships. In a blog post on the DHL blog Delivering Tomorrow, DHL Chief Commercial Officer Bill Meahl says that shipping and logistics companies need to start preparing for a future dependent on intelligent self-driving vehicles and that “failure to plan for this eventual inevitability will be a costly mistake:
Although automated road freight will save costs, reduce emissions, and make roads safer, the impact on driver jobs requires a managed transition. We may still be a long way away from artificial intelligence (AI) behind the wheels of the world’s semis, but companies managing large vehicle fleets ignore the technological advances at their own peril. That’s because the future has already begun.
It won’t just be truck drivers who are replaced. Autonomous ships and self-flying aircraft will soon appear, and even couriers could be replaced by small drones. It’s not all bad news for humans, though. Meahl outlines several ways that artificial intelligence can work together with human operators, such as enabling multiple trucks to autonomously “platoon” together through interstates in tight formations, reducing drag and improving fuel efficiency. While that may be true, let’s not kid ourselves. It’s pretty obvious that automation of a large part of the global economy is inevitable. We may be in the last few years to drive our own vehicles. What will you do with all that saved time?
Don’t kid yourself. You’re going to stare at your phone.