Being a driver for a ride-sharing service like Uber is a fairly new kind of job, but it’s one that’s already on the verge of being replaced by robots. Uber has been especially interested in self-driving cars, and envisions a future where all of its cars are autonomous, but that doesn’t mean the company is just going to kick its current drivers to the curb. According to CEO Travis Kalanick, self-driving cars will definitely replace human drivers in the near future, which he claims is a good thing for both efficiency and safety, but for Uber drivers worried about losing their jobs, the company intends to assist them in finding new jobs, so Uber won’t be completely abandoning them.
What happens to Uber’s drivers once cars drive themselves? Something other than just losing their jobs, according to a gentler approach from CEO Travis Kalanick. Uber could potentially train drivers to do other jobs in the post-driving world. Previously Kalanick had taken a more ruthlessly efficient stance, saying at CODE Conference last year that he loves self-driving cars, and that “When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of Uber becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.” Asked how he would address Uber’s drivers who might worry they’ll be made obsolete, Kalanick replied “I would say to them this is the way the world is going.” But Friday night, Kalanick offered new potential options for drivers while speaking on stage at the Summit At Sea getaway conference boat off the coast of Miami. The boat, which had little connectivity, just returned to port. After an on stage discussion with Google/Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt, a nervous audience member bluntly asked Kalanick about the fate of Uber’s drivers as autonomous vehicles hit the road. At first, Kalanick launched into a summary of why the act of driving is fundamentally bad. He cited that 30,000 people a year die of car accidents, billions of hours are spent “decreasing quality of life” during the stressful act of driving, and traffic hurts people’s efficiency. He sees driverless technology as a solution to many of these problems.
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