The Economics of Self-Driving Cars

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Tom Standage of The Economist talks about the importance of pricing when trying to predict driverless technology’s effect on traffic, ownership, public transportation, and sprawl. He also reminds us to be humble in our prognostications,¬†unearthing a quote from¬†The Horseless Age (1895), a book which hailed the benefits of the automobile over the horse:

“Noise will be reduced. Streets will be cleaner, [traffic] jams less likely to occur, and accidents less frequent, for the horse is not so manageable as a mechanical vehicle.”

Standage provides a good reminder for caution when it comes to authoritarian governments as well. Driverless vehicles will know where everyone is and where everyone has already been; and thus gov’ts “could decide who gets to go where and when.” Worrisome for sure.

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