The Luddites of London

[Editor’s Note: An automobile industry executive and subject matter expert, who wishes to remain anonymous, penned the following article for the Viodi View.]

Just as we begin to hear about the Google Car and the significance of the autonomous vehicle (AV) for society, taxi cab drivers throughout the European Union recently staged mass protests against the smart phone app service Uber, portraying themselves as 21st century Luddites sacking London.

Ambrogio, the virtual personal assistant who will keep a person on track.
Ambrogio, the Virtual Personal Assistant. Image courtesy of Michael Robinson and ED Design

Whether or not you agree with the idea of summoning a car “in a matter of minutes, at a preset fare, and a five-star system telling the client what previous passengers thought of the driver,” it is self-evident that the business model works. For example, CNN Money reported that on the day of the strike an Uber spokesman stated, “[We saw] our biggest day of sign ups in London today since launch two years ago….In fact, today we’re seeing an 850% increase in sign ups compared to last Wednesday.” Therefore, instead of protesting the technology, conventional taxi companies should embrace it, re-evaluate their own business models, and apply the technology to fit the new paradigm.

The graphic illustrates how Virtual Personal Assistants could work in the background to facilitate human relationships.
Virtual Personal Assistants Facilitating Human Relationships – Image courtesy of Michael Robinson and ED Design

Furthermore, not just taxi companies, but anyone involved in the transportation industry needs to embrace the technologies that are to come. As stated in the Editor’s Note to a previous Viodi article, The Autonomous Vehicle and What It Means, “Broadband providers will either find new opportunities in this arena or let the Googles of the world grab the opportunity.” For example, Michael Robinson whom is cited in the Editor’s Note foresees the ubiquitous use of Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs).

These are personal digital servants embedded within the Big Data Matrix which includes AVs and all forms of personal digital tools. Therefore, the occupation of taxi driver will be as extinct as the dinosaur because taxi companies will shift from using taxi drivers to Big Data’s VPAs—This is the nature of creative destruction in free economies.

In conclusion, the protesting taxi drivers should take a page from history and learn the lessons of the Luddites demise. Though as hard as they fought against advances in technology, humanity still won out. And it is in the interest of humanity that we should view change.

0 thoughts on “The Luddites of London

  1. I’m proud to be a Luddite! The only hand held gadget I own is a Kindle Fire. I would buy an electric car if the price was right and there were more charging stations and/or range was increased. I would not buy an autonomous vehicle until proven safe for several years

  2. Thanks for the comment. If it weren’t for professional reasons, I would be in the Luddite camp. All the shiny new stuff is always interesting, but then I often find I don’t use it.

    Having said that, I am finding that I am using the voice recognition on my phone and asking it for information to enhance my poor memory or, more often, my ignorance. I think Michael Robinson’s idea of Ambrogio, the Virtual Personal Assistant, is along those lines.

    Regarding the car, I think a service model will develop so you won’t have to buy it; with the help of your Virtual Personal Assistant, it will arrive when you need it and whisk you away. I am not too concerned about the safety, as a robot can’t be any worse than my driving 🙂

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