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Old 07-23-2015, 10:12 AM   #61
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The newest trucks do have collision mitigation technology and will have technology to help drivers.

But truck drivers will not be replaced anytime soon. ...

Are tax dollars available to build highways and roads to accommodate self driving trucks. Not going to happen anytime soon.

You can build a self driving truck. But you won't be able to use it in the real world anytime soon.

The railroads are already moving trucks nationwide so thats another reason the trucking industry has no incentive to buy into a billion dollar technology that would still require a driver behind the wheel.
It's always tough to predict the future, but I do lean towards agreeing with this view. It will be very tough to deal with every situation out there, and each error will attract attention and lawsuits. Even if the overall safety is better (the media/public won't do the math, just respond to the 'sensation').

I think we will see more and more 'assistance' to help keep the driver from danger. The risk is the driver pays less attention, counting on the system. I think this should be augmented with a system to monitor the driver's attention - are the retinas scanning the road ahead, the mirrors, is the car drifting, slowing or speeding in an odd pattern? If anything looks questionable, get the driver's attention, threaten to pull over and disable the vehicle if they don't pay attention to the road. Stop texting.

Maybe special roadways with only smart vehicles on them (or maybe limited to certain times or even a buffer zone - the first and last smart vehicle in a group of smart vehicles would have LED signs that only other smart cars can enter that zone?). Maybe the road could use some lower, more reliable tech like a cable or something buried to make it way easier for the vehicle to follow the road than camera/GPS? Smart vehicles on that road would all have 'beacons', so every other vehicle 'knows' where they are, and proper distance is maintained.

But with a buffer zone, other vehicles could share that road, it would not be only for the smart vehicles. That might make the transition easier?

-ERD50
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:27 AM   #62
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Thorstein Veblen (18571929), in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study in the Evolution of Institutions (1899) where he coined the famous phrase "Conspicuous Consumption", described how rich people or the leisure class preferred hand-made goods, despite their often inferior quality to machine-made goods. The hand-made goods were of course more costly, hence bestowed a higher standing to the consumer. Their small blemishes were considered charming and having distinctive marks, compared to the mass-produced merchandise that was more uniform and exact.

So, perhaps we are not far from the industrialization era of 1880s, as the OP proposed. Maybe we never left it.
Several years ago I decided I was going to make a statement to myself and buy a pair of shoes made in America. Nothing fancy or hand-made -- just USA-made. I went to the Red Wing store and ordered a pair of plain-toe work oxfords like the old Army-Navy stores might have carried. It took the store two weeks to get them, and they cost twice as much as I might have paid for a similar pair of shoes at Payless. They weigh about 50% more than a similar pair of Asian-made shoes, and the soles are so inflexible they feel like they're made of wood. They'll probably never wear out, particularly since I can't stand to wear them more than two days in a row.
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Old 07-23-2015, 11:33 AM   #63
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I think this is the farm of the future - no bugs, indoors, not subject to weather variations, all year growing season, LED lights, low water usage and what is used is recycled, stacked vertically for minimal land use:

Q&A: Inside the World's Largest Indoor Farm | Nat Geo Food
Most of the largest dairy farms in Wisconsin keep their milking herds confined to buildings. The cows carry global positioning sensors so the herdsman can determine whether it's restless or not moving enough, an indicator of its well-being.
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Old 07-23-2015, 02:52 PM   #64
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I have trouble seeing automation as the key problem. Western countries have been automating for the last 200 years, replacing workers as they did.
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In 1870, 70-80 percent of the US population was employed in agriculture. As of 2008, less than 2 percent of the population is directly employed in agriculture.
But, somehow we were able to spread the benefits of higher productivity that came with automation to a very broad range of Americans.

I think much of reason that happened was political, and much of the apparent reversal is also political.
When China went from Mao to Deng, and US culture/politics made it acceptable for companies to close plants in the US while buying from China, we saw a hit to US wages. That dynamic has been working its way through our economy for 30 years.

In the long run, it seems that US wages for tradeable goods have to approach the lowest world wages for those goods. Technology may be improving lifestyles worldwide, but foreign workers can move up the ladder at the same time US workers move down (or stagnate).

From a personal perspective, when I retired I thought my non-cola'd pension would rapidly shrink to a minor slice of my retirement income. Hasn't happened yet. But, I've got kids who are struggling with a low wage economy.

The 1880's were followed by decades of political struggles and actions (anti-trust, immigration limits, National Labor Relations Act) that moved the needle back to labor. Somehow, I don't see the political consensus for that today.

For retirees trying to bet on the political winds, this may mean that we want to stay hitched to equities. If capital continues to move around the world, getting the best deals it can, then I'd like to get my share.
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Old 07-23-2015, 04:13 PM   #65
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I have trouble seeing automation as the key problem. Western countries have been automating for the last 200 years, replacing workers as they did.

But, somehow we were able to spread the benefits of higher productivity that came with automation to a very broad range of Americans.
That broad range of prosperity is a relatively recent phenomenon. My mom and dad both lived as kids without plumbing or electricity -- a pretty common condition for the 25% of americans living on farms in 1930. In 1940, only 44% of Americans owned their own homes, and that number was pretty consistent decade by decade up until the midpoint of the century, according to the Census Bureau.

In my own life, broad access to higher education lifted the members of my immediate family out of the working class and into relative affluence. I'm sorry to see that access becoming limited in recent years by prohibitively high costs; I'm not sure the opportunity I enjoyed when I came of age in the late 60s would be there if I were that same young man today.
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Old 07-23-2015, 04:20 PM   #66
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That broad range of prosperity is a relatively recent phenomenon. My mom and dad both lived as kids without plumbing or electricity -- a pretty common condition for the 25% of americans living on farms in 1930. In 1940, only 44% of Americans owned their own homes, and that number was pretty consistent decade by decade up until the midpoint of the century, according to the Census Bureau.



In my own life, broad access to higher education lifted the members of my immediate family out of the working class and into relative affluence. I'm sorry to see that access becoming limited in recent years by prohibitively high costs; I'm not sure the opportunity I enjoyed when I came of age in the late 60s would be there if I were that same young man today.

Ah, the good old days....I remember as late as 1969 dodging wasps in my grandpa's outhouse as a young lad on his rural property he lived on.


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Old 07-23-2015, 04:23 PM   #67
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Ah, the good old days....I remember as late as 1969 dodging wasps in my grandpa's outhouse as a young lad on his rural property he lived on.


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I remember that too! Maybe we're related ...
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Old 07-23-2015, 07:16 PM   #68
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What if a magic switch was thrown and every worker became twice as productive? In a market driven system, half of the workforce would be let go. Lets presume that even the safe government jobs also participate. Obviously not realistic, but sometimes taking something to an extreme can shed light.

It would seem to me that there would need to be a worldwide rule that cuts the number of hours that any one person was allowed to work. Go from a 40 hour week to a twenty hour week, and we don't have half the population starving. But such a rule seems very much non free market. But don't we already have something like that rule already? If you work more than X hours, your employer is forced to pay you more by the hour. That wouldn't work for salaried employees, so a standard shorter work week would need to come into play. Employers would need to spend the same on training as they did before the magic switch, but more than if they were allowed to use employees for longer than 20 hours.

Are there other options for what to do if that switch were thrown? I doubt many would think that no intervention would be a good idea, since half of the working population would start clamoring for the scarce jobs, driving the remuneration for work to close to nothing. The economy would screech to a halt. The corporation that was able to have fewer employees would have an advantage, so companies wouldn't go with a short week unless compelled.

How about having the work week float based on a good measure of unemployment? 40% unemployment, (1-.40) * 40 = 24 hour work week.
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:02 PM   #69
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... It would seem to me that there would need to be a worldwide rule that cuts the number of hours that any one person was allowed to work. Go from a 40 hour week to a twenty hour week, and we don't have half the population starving. But such a rule seems very much non free market...
France passed a law setting a 35-hour work week in 2000. It remains controversial, and critics claim it fails to reduce unemployment.

When we go against the free market, we tend to create some distortion leading to unforeseen side effects. There are always people who do not want to work too hard, and some gung-ho types who want to get ahead. In some jobs, there will always be good workers who want to work long hours, and society benefits from them working hard. Prohibiting them from going that extra mile on their own accord is against personal liberty and pursuit of happiness, hence wrong and unconstitutional. What will be next? Will we restrict A students from studying too hard and make C students look bad?

Somehow, I recall this scene from the movie Brazil where Archibald Tuttle, a AC service man, sneaks into an apartment to do an illegal repair, bypassing the system red tape. Tuttle just likes to do his job!

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Old 07-23-2015, 08:38 PM   #70
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Maybe gentrification?

I mean: hand-made cupcakes at 20$ a pop. Exclusive design shoes. hand massaged grassfed lobster.

In other words: artificial scarcity, status competitions.

I feel sadder now.
That can become meaningless when all the plumbing is stopped up.

Then the gentrified complain if the plumber wants more per hour than the lawyer. And if they want timely response, pay a retainer to boot.
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:55 PM   #71
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If we have driverless trucks, what will country songs be about?

(Well, there's still beer, tractors, beer, heartbreak, beer...)
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:50 PM   #72
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If we have driverless trucks, what will country songs be about?

(Well, there's still beer, tractors, beer, heartbreak, beer...)
Oh there's plenty left. According to this song, there's still mama, trains, and prison + what you mentioned. Description of the "perfect country song" starts at 3:18 and an example follows.

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Old 07-24-2015, 07:01 PM   #73
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What if a magic switch was thrown and every worker became twice as productive? In a market driven system, half of the workforce would be let go.
Any big change over a short time frame leads to all sorts of problems.

But, as you can see from the post above, US agricultural workers became 30-40 times more productive over a period of 138 years. That's an average of 2.7% per year, and I'm sure we could find periods of much faster growth.

We can find plenty of cases of farmers being forced out by more efficient or luckier neighbors. But, somehow those people who aren't working in agriculture found other jobs. And, on average, those jobs paid better.

I'm not worried about "no jobs at all, because technology replaced everyone". But I do worry about "no jobs at the wages US workers expect, because it's so easy to outsource work".
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Old 07-25-2015, 08:18 AM   #74
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Oh there's plenty left. According to this song, there's still mama, trains, and prison + what you mentioned. Description of the "perfect country song" starts at 3:18 and an example follows.


Written by Steve Goodman, who wrote "City of New Orleans" and many others...

I was never the entrepreneurial type, which is one solution to this "problem", but I managed to capture some of the profits of capitalism, even while, at times, being jerked around by corporations and the changing economic landscape, by owning stock. So, in a way, that was my small business, obtaining and managing assets. Sort of a miniature Berkshire Hathaway...
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:04 AM   #75
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What if a magic switch was thrown and every worker became twice as productive? In a market driven system, half of the workforce would be let go.
In the market-driven system I'm familiar with, that order of events is usually reversed -- workers are laid off as employers try to maintain profits, and the survivors have get more productive to pick up the slack. There's nothing like a recession to increase worker productivity.
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Old 07-25-2015, 12:35 PM   #76
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In the market-driven system I'm familiar with, that order of events is usually reversed -- workers are laid off as employers try to maintain profits, and the survivors have get more productive to pick up the slack. There's nothing like a recession to increase worker productivity.
+1
Just saw this in the recent recession. Skilled heads were cut across the board and salaries eroded, now the unfortunate ones are still slaving away with even more impossible deadlines than before. I just lived that life, got a tee shirt when I retired too. Happily I didn't have to be chained to the never ending 24 hour a day 7 day a week commitment.
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Old 07-25-2015, 06:59 PM   #77
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+1
Just saw this in the recent recession. Skilled heads were cut across the board and salaries eroded, now the unfortunate ones are still slaving away with even more impossible deadlines than before.
Reminds me of that old poster: "We the unwilling, led by the unknowing, have done so much with so little for so long that we are now qualified to do anything with nothing".
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Old 07-26-2015, 08:45 AM   #78
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It's always tough to predict the future, but I do lean towards agreeing with this view. It will be very tough to deal with every situation out there, and each error will attract attention and lawsuits. Even if the overall safety is better (the media/public won't do the math, just respond to the 'sensation').

I think we will see more and more 'assistance' to help keep the driver from danger. The risk is the driver pays less attention, counting on the system. I think this should be augmented with a system to monitor the driver's attention - are the retinas scanning the road ahead, the mirrors, is the car drifting, slowing or speeding in an odd pattern? If anything looks questionable, get the driver's attention, threaten to pull over and disable the vehicle if they don't pay attention to the road. Stop texting.

Maybe special roadways with only smart vehicles on them (or maybe limited to certain times or even a buffer zone - the first and last smart vehicle in a group of smart vehicles would have LED signs that only other smart cars can enter that zone?). Maybe the road could use some lower, more reliable tech like a cable or something buried to make it way easier for the vehicle to follow the road than camera/GPS? Smart vehicles on that road would all have 'beacons', so every other vehicle 'knows' where they are, and proper distance is maintained.

But with a buffer zone, other vehicles could share that road, it would not be only for the smart vehicles. That might make the transition easier?

-ERD50
It sure seems that technology moves ever faster than one thinks possible Daimler to test self-driving trucks in Germany this year: paper | Reuters
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Old 07-26-2015, 09:57 AM   #79
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The article does not describe the exact capability of the self-driving truck, but has the following word: semi-autonomous. This looks similar to the recent efforts by a few other truck companies, whose autopilots are meant to reduce driver fatigue on highways, and not to replace him. The driver must be awake, and ready to takeover if the system encounters difficult situations that it cannot handle (how that is defined and detected is not fully described).

Efforts to make autonomous cars have been ongoing since 1980. For example,
... in 1995, Dickmanns' re-engineered autonomous S-Class Mercedes-Benz undertook a 990 miles (1,590 km) journey from Munich in Bavaria, Germany to Copenhagen, Denmark and back, using saccadic computer vision and transputers to react in real time. The robot achieved speeds exceeding 109 miles per hour (175 km/h) on the German Autobahn, with a mean time between human interventions of 5.6 miles (9.0 km), or 95% autonomous driving. It drove in traffic, executing manoeuvres to pass other cars...
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_autonomous_car.

To achieve 100% autonomy is the hardest part, particularly in crowded cities where the computer needs AI (artificial intelligence) to handle complex situations, not merely keeping the vehicle on the road and avoiding hitting the vehicle in front.
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Old 07-26-2015, 10:26 AM   #80
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The article does not describe the exact capability of the self-driving truck, but has the following word: semi-autonomous. This looks similar to the recent efforts by a few other truck companies, whose autopilots are meant to reduce driver fatigue on highways, and not to replace him. The driver must be awake, and ready to takeover if the system encounters difficult situations that it cannot handle (how that is defined and detected is not fully described).
Let me give you an example of a simple "difficult situation":

SNOW

Slippery conditions, lane markings obscured, signs obscured, unpredictable drivers. Etc.

I've been reading a little on this. There are a lot of things that have to happen for the 100% hands off self driving vehicle. It will come, but there's a lot of work to do. And then there is a generation of vehicles that must age out.

A few details they are working on: V2V (vehicle to vehicle) communication. This is crucial. Even more crucial is the ability to map the car to 6 inches. This helps with the snow problem I mentioned above. Today most navigation systems are more like 20 ft. It is a solveable problem.

But then consider another difficult situation:

ROAD CONSTRUCTION

Great, you can map the car on the known road to 6 inches. But they just moved the lanes by 12 ft. Now what? What if there are no lane markers during this time? Do we just stop cars from using roads during construction? What if it is foggy or snowy in a new construction zone.

Lots and lots of problems.
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