Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Next Great Turn of the Wheel



Change is coming.  Over the next 25 years driverless vehicles will begin to transform the way we live, work, and organize our urbanizing world. It derives from the revolutionary nature of new tools available to us,  and may provide us with a unique opportunity to re-balance the relationship between nature and technology.

A Revolution, again. The transition to driverless vehicles will have recognizable similarities with past transitions in the ways we move ourselves, and our things, across the surface of the earth. Disruptive, comprehensive, and inexorable it is a process of change that began with walking and will continue to have profound and far-reaching effects.

The combination of pre-existing technologies with more recent innovations are often at the heart of important changes in transportation. In this case one of the most productive technological lineages in human history, the wheel, is being combined with the emerging power of the computer. Not since the replacement of muscle power with mechanical sources has there been such a fundamental shift. For the first time in history the wheel is being provided with an independent guidance system, with a capacity for reliability and efficiency that far exceeds the human capacities.



Hop in, what could go wrong?
This blog will explore some of the processes underlying this change, keep an eye on emerging events, and  discuss possible implications.  This subject will only get increasing attention as the technology develops. But there is a lot more to it than meets the eye, and I hope that by understanding the change and where it comes from we can take advantage of the opportunities ahead of us. As well as avoid some of the pain that inevitably derive from this disruptive transformation.