The answer to the question that's the title of this post is simple.
Or we'll be running for our lives - caught in an AI apocalypse looking for a dude named John Connor to bail us out.
But rather than be scared about the future reality where robots/AI takes over, I'm more interested in what happens to big chunks of the workforce along the way. As most of us hear about self-driving cars from Google and Uber, we're intrigued. But the zig to that zag is a bigger play that happens after cars.
What happens when self-driving trucks take over the trucking industry and displace millions of trucking jobs?
To say that change "is going to leave a mark" is an understatement.
Google has long held the spotlight in developing driverless technology; however, with the emergence of Otto and Elon Musk’s announcement of a Tesla Semi, “driverless trucks” are coming to the forefront of the autonomous vehicle conversation (I'd encourage you to click on both of those links, they're pretty interesting). One major reason the trucking industry is so interested in driverless technology is a chronic shortage of truck drivers, which is threatening to get worse as the Baby Boom generation hits retirement age.
But beyond shortages, when truck drivers can be replaced by technology, it's going to be one of the biggest issues we've dealt with in America since offshoring really became the de facto choice.
There are approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States, according to estimates by the American Trucking Association. The total number of people employed in the industry, including those in positions that do not entail driving, exceeds 8.7 million. About one of every 15 workers in the country is employed in the trucking business, according to the ATA.
Closer to home, I'm from the midwest, where countless families who once held jobs in manufacturing reacted to offshoring by - you guessed it - hitting the road to become truck drivers.
You can't say that driving a truck cross-country is your first choice from a work/life balance perspective and raising a family. But you do it to provide, and it's a reasonable pivot when there are no jobs left in your rural area that pay a decent wage if your highest diploma is of the high school variety.
If you're looking for an honest conversation on why people would support Donald Trump, look no further than economic opportunity, my friends. What's going to go down soon in the trucking industry will only increase the pressure that can make candidates like Donald Trump look like a reasonable choice.