At this point many of us have probably accepted that driverless cars will encompass every corner of our lives in the near future. Research firm Strategy Analytics and Intel have concluded that by 2050 economic activity generated by driverless cars would exceed $7 trillion. $203 billion of this number comes from new business markets in tourism or healthcare; some new predicted new use cases include mobile hair salons and rolling restaurants. The only problem is it might not be the kind of future we are hoping for.
It's also worth pointing out a deep contradiction of transportation innovation that may complicate the report's conclusions. Rather than simply reducing the time and effort we spend moving around, every new form of transportation from tamed horses onward has reshaped society in such a way that people wound up spending more time and effort traveling - one aspect of an economic phenomenon known as the Jevons paradox. The most recent manifestation of this is the "induced demand" that often instantly clogs newly-built highways.
While the new report claims driverless cars will eventually save 250 million hours of commuting time per year, other have argued they could instead become the mother of all induced demand events. Though the current global trend is towards urbanization, driverless cars could actually encourage some people to live even farther away from workplaces, or to take even more daily trips, because they can spend the time in their car working, entertaining themselves, or getting a robotic pedicure.
Personally, I have always been a huge supporter of the future of autonomous vehicles. This report has filled me with immense optimism for massive effect this will have on our lives, however, I have begun to worry that the lifestyle change may not be the one many dream of.
Monkeys, I'm curious what you have to say about this report. Do you believe the driverless car market will be $7 trillion large? Are you still welcoming of the autonomous vehicle future?