Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian future has come to pass

The self-driving car has become the poster gadget for the next wave of automation powered by artificial intelligence. It is a terrifying idea. Turning basic transportation over to robots will, almost certainly, cause the greatest job extinction event in labour history, wiping out the already dwindling earning potential for taxi drivers, truckers, delivery people and many more. Tech giants like Uber, Google, Tesla and others presume that they and their shareholders – and therefore, in some unspecified way, the whole of society – will gain from this next round of “creative disruption”. But in the long term, they could be wrong. Who will feed the families of the millions of people worldwide left without jobs? Who will make up for their lost taxes? And what will our new tech overlords do with all the money they get from destroying old-fashioned employment? The form suggests that, left to themselves, the tech giants won’t park their profits in Ireland, or anywhere else where ordinary people might have need of it. And yet as the rest of us get poorer, who will buy or hire their self-driving cars, or purchase new iPhones, or pay for the products advertised on Facebook? Another reason for…


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