Where are we heading? In daily traffic you increasingly notice the presence of that imposing TESLA car: its radiant appearance hovers above the road. It’s there before you know it and already gone with a similar sensation. Also, when considering an alternative way to get to a party on a Friday night, people turn on the help of Uber. Easy, and above all, cheaper than a regular taxi ride. What we see here is that technology drives us more and more toward innovative convenience in how we move ourselves.
This convenience stems from the popular sound of a more collaborative economy, as we all proclaim: ‘sharing is caring’. The crowd obtains resources directly from each other, using commonly available technology. But when it’s not a ride we like to share, we do care by applying sustainable technology; high end, top range electric vehicles with driver assistance features. In the near future we even seem to go toward autonomous cars. Ride sharing and car sharing pave the way for the self-driving car industry. A great example of‘leapfrogging’ and disruptive technology. Google has already shown that it leads the way. But wouldn’t it be a huge mess if we all have an anonymous car in, let’s say, twenty years from now?
How it’s visioned The man advocating this idea of autonomous cars is Mike Hearn, an ex-Google engineer and one of the leading Bitcoin software developers. He visioned this car of the future as a public good (having in mind the popularity of Uber). In addition that people are likely to be slowly eliminated from the driving process by automation. Although it’s still aconcept to inspire, in this ideal situation no one owns a car. Instead, the vehicles own themselves. Communication with people and the surrounding infrastructure will be possible via a new internet-based commerce system — Tradenet — supported by an app. So, smartphones (or their successors) are still in the picture?
Coded to be cheap Trading rides, these cars will be programmed to keep their profits slim but with the goal of maintaining themselves and running updates for their software. A transparent bidding system that works through the app allows people to see their best offers based on the location of the car, how much fuel it has, your location and where you want to go. Real time demand and supply on a completely automated market where people will pay virtually for their rides (hey, was Hearn not also talking about digital currency Bitcoin before?). But it’s not just the cheapest price, you could also pick a ride depending on the quality of programming/software, the track record of the car and — for some not insignificant— how nice the car is. This form of enhanced economic interaction might even create perfect competition.
How autonomous is it? Because the cars will be autonomous, not owned and run by major companies, will this eventually lead to a domination by unmanageable ‘robots on wheels’? Worth mentioning, Hearn states that this self-driving car will be self-improving, using their profits for maintenance and upgrades, but not self-aware. The same idea for trading rides will come up for the fixing of the cars. People will be deployed to program the car running updates for its software. Randomly selected according to the system, and again, a congregation of demand and supply. Well, if you’d ask me — autonomously — I’m not sure now if I’ll still have a car in twenty years.