I recently spoke at the 2014 Transport Conference and did some research on what was happening in the transport sector. I suggested 3 x what-if’s to them:
- What if the driverless car seriously takes off – how will your sector be affected?
- What if drones now start delivering parcels – how will you be affected? This is being trialled by Amazon and a couple of companies in the UK
- What if the new age trains become the key deliverers of products around the country? Again – how will you be affected.
Bless them. I had a reasonable reaction to the questions, though I’m not sure if what they were really saying was ‘look you are a woman, you know nothing about road transport. Transport is about big trucks on big roads delivering big loads!’ Really? It might be the way things are done NOW but given air pollution; dwindling supplies of oil; the cost of endlessly building wider and wider roads which cause endless traffic jams, not to mention air pollution – is it the way we even WANT to go forward?
I’ve since been reading a book called ‘Anticipating 2025’ put together by David W Wood. And here are a couple of HIS thoughts:
* Automated transport, including driverless cars, has the potential to significantly reduce the number of accidents on our roadways. The majority of present-day road accidents involve human driver error. With the elimination of the prospect of accidents, cars can also be made much lighter, with environmental benefits. Autonomous flying transport drones could apply the same principle to radically improve our distribution networks (for those goods which cannot yet be manufactured on the spot using 3D printing). This includes rapid distribution of goods to locations beyond the present land-based transport grid.
And because I speak at all manner of conferences around NZ about what THEIR ‘what ifs’ are, as organisations and as employees – what about these thoughts from Wood:
* Automated robot workers have the potential to reshape many professions. This won’t just impact factory workers. Drivers, soldiers, nurses, radiologists, teachers, lawyers, and journalists are just some of the fields of work where extended automation means that human involvement could change significantly, and, in some cases, disappear altogether. The implications for employment – so-called “technological unemployment” – are potentially profound, as humans may struggle to reskill themselves for new professions more quickly than robots gain new abilities. The challenge will be to race with the machines rather than racing against them.
No matter what business you are in – you WILL need to think about your own ‘what-if’s’, not next year or next month, but NOW!
Because for all of us – the future is coming, ready or not. Better to be terrified and aware, than to bury our heads in the sand and hope all this nasty stuff will go away. Sadly it won’t.
Ann Andrews CSP