Autonomous Cars

3.5 Million Jobs Are on the Verge of Extinction. Here's How Entrepreneurs Can Save the Future.

To be one of those entrepreneurs and make the money that can be made, here are the four questions to ask yourself.
3.5 Million Jobs Are on the Verge of Extinction. Here's How Entrepreneurs Can Save the Future.
Image credit: Just_Super | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Principal founder of Going Global Ventures
7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Imagine what would happen if all 55,000 of America’s hard-working coal miners were laid off tomorrow. The American workforce would suffer a tragic blow. Wall-to-wall 24-hour news coverage would ensue. Whole swaths of the American Southeast would be economically devasted.

Now imagine something even worse -- 3.5 million people being laid off.

Related: Are Autonomous Vehicle Tests a Public Hazard?

This is what awaits the American economy if the rise of autonomous vehicles continues unchecked.

According to the American Trucking Association, there are currently 3.5 million professional truck drivers in America. That’s almost 65 times more jobs than coal and 800,000 more people than the population of Chicago. Yet we hear nothing about this threat on the news or on social media. And that's terrible, because the cause of that threat -- our society's changeover to fully autonomous vehicles -- is predicted to be  complete by 2025, at the latest, according to the technologists and leaders in the artificial intelligence space I've worked with.

That year 2025 is only six-and-a-half years away. So, what's our plan?

The problem, and a possible solution

Just this year,Toyota announced it would invest $2.8 billion in autonomous vehicles, on top of the $80 billion it's spent worldwide in the past three years. Other car companies, like Tesla, Honda, BMW, GM and Audi, are making these investments, too, an indication that autonomous vehicles are on our collective horizon, and we must plan and prepare immediately.

Entrepreneurs can stop this rising tide in job loss, save the economy and make huge profits doing so.

They should start working on this autonomous vehicle trend now, because the notion of delivery-drivers being replaced by autonomous vehicles will continue until nearly 100 percent autonomy is achieved. But the positive side of this is how over $7 trillion dollars will be available for the taking, according to an Intel prediction, if entrepreneurs capitalize now. Here's how:

Why entrepreneurs will future-proof the economy

Basic physics shows us matter can neither be created or destroyed; it simply changes forms. This is what you as an entrepreneur should seize upon when it comes to autonomous vehicles: they are merely a change of forms in the economy. Once one thing -- truck driving jobs -- are gone, they will not really be "gone"; they will simply have become something else.

Related: Arizona Governor Suspends Uber's Self-Driving Car Tests

A glimpse of this transformation can be seen in the American Southwest. There, delivery trucks owned by Uber in Arizona are part of hybrid systems being developed to allow central facilities to tele-control these vehicles. Because of this  advancement, there will need to be special hubs like those being being created in Ann Arbor, Mich., to allow autonomous trucks to swap out driverless technology for human drivers providing back-up, as well as drivers who will take over for the final miles trucks drive in urban areas.

Think of this scenario as similar to that of Uber or Lyft, except with qualified and experienced truck drivers. What will be required will be innovative business planning,creativity and forward-thinking solutions. These are skills that you as an entrepreneur possess. But, where, exactly, do you fit in? How can your specific interests and skills fill a need in the future of work in America?

The answer lies in your asking yourself these four questions.

1. Are you an entrepreneur with experience and expertise in data management?

Entrepreneurs who can leverage the data that autonomous vehicles generate will create massive value. All those vehicles will produce massive amounts of data about everything from how the cars respond to one other, to how they respond to manned cars, the weather, the heat, pedestrians, bicyclists -- you name it.

The need to store, organize and make sense of the data promises to create endless opportunities for innovation in the area of machine learning and AI.

Next, someone has to make that data actionable. Someone has to create bridges to cognitive conversational agents such as Amelia(IPsoft) or Alexa (Amazon) for vehicles and trucks to monitor, control, entertain and provide security. This will then lead to a need for an intelligence agent to monitor, make decisions and coordinate communications between the vehicles and headquarters.

2. Are you obsessed with analytics?

Building on the previous opportunity described, entrepreneurs can use the data gathered for predictive analytics. This will make our smart cars smarter, safer, more acceptable and therefore more able to drive more revenue. Predictive analytics will work to store and use information about drivers and vehicles. A great need will arise for data architecture platforms and data predictive insights and systems.

Consider the impact on supply chain logistics. Weather in all its forms constantly impacts supply chains. It's estimated that 32.6 billion vehicle hours are wasted annually due to weather, amounting to a loss of $2.2 billion to $3.5 billion dollars  in the United States.

The data gathered over the past decades on weather and its effects on roads can be fed into autonomous shipping databases, which will only become smarter while their predictions become more accurate. This in turn will make the entire industry increasingly  efficient, not to mention safer.

3. Do you want to change the physical and technological landscape?

Entrepreneurs are the ones who'll create the new exchange yards of the 21st century and beyond. They'll be the ones to create advanced monitoring centers, with vision and surveillance technology that will employ millions of people using telo operations controls.

This will mean the creation of exchange hubs, where drivers will be on standby for that swapping-out of autonomous vehicles in favor of vehicles drivers to manage those urban corridors with cramped streets. Today's truck drivers will drive dozens of trucks a day for short distances, instead of the single trips they do now which stretch hundreds of miles.

4. Is your passion that of retraining the labor force itself?

Entrepreneurs are key if we are to repurpose, not retract, the number of workers in tomorrow's economy. Some 3.5 million Americans will be hungry to advance and re-create their careers.

Entrepreneurs are on the cutting edge of the technology; therefore, they are on the frontier of the dissemination of information. With the knowledge that you, as an entrepreneur, gain from the technological advancement and data gathered, you can create schools and training programs to retool the training of the truck drivers of the past.

You can help train them to fill jobs for autonomous shipping specialists, short-run drivers and countless other positions that now support the industry of shipping.

That $7 million Intel described is out there for the taking in this future world of autonomous vehicles and shipping. So, answer the four questions listed above to see exactly what you, yourself, can capitalize on.

Related: These Companies Are Building an Autonomous Car Platform

If we use our best entrepreneurial minds to apply specific skills, interests and passions to the needs created by the rise of autonomous delivery, we will not only create a new dominance in trucking and shipping, but save the U.S. economy from the gradual loss of over 3.5 million well-paying jobs.Entrepreneurs must start now to claim their piece of the future.

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