Agony Ent: What will the humans do?

When all delivery trucks are 'driverless'; what will the human drivers do? What will happen to truck stops and motels?

'Agony Ent' is a regular DMG column for which an entrepreneur from the DMG network answers an anonymous challenge from a leading corporate.

We’re already seeing the social and political instability that comes from ignoring the effects of jobs lost to automation. Delivery truck drivers can’t just be cut loose without a safety net, and solutions need to come from both business and government. Logistics companies should capitalise on drivers’ industry knowledge, retraining and upskilling them for other jobs in the business that still require a human touch. Government revenues collected from industries moving toward automation need to be focused on helping those people affected by it. This means providing education to build the skills needed in growing industries where jobs are more plentiful. A guaranteed basic income might be another way to support workers whose earning power is permanently lowered by advances in technology.

Some service jobs, like those at truck stops and motels, will suffer second-order effects. But those skills are more easily transferred to the restaurant across town or the hotel in the next city. In these cases, we need incentives both persuading people to move to where the jobs are and encouraging companies that need staff to move to where there are willing workers.

Above all, we need to acknowledge that some jobs are never coming back, and rather than treating that as a threat, we must turn it into an opportunity for greater prosperity for all.

Daianna Karaian is the founder of Thoughtful, a social enterprise helping creative people learn from and collaborate with each other to make things that make a difference.