The brave new world of AI

Abstract

O brave new world,

that has such AI in't.

Were the Shakespearian Miranda to be allowed to get a glance of the future awaiting us, this would probably be the adaptation of her iconic Tempest speech –and she couldn’t be righter.

In a certain sense, AI is bound to become the zeitgeist of our time, revolutionizing not only our way of thinking and perceiving ourselves but the very foundation of our society.

This profoundly transformative role of the AI is evident when dealing with its application to autonomous guidance, with AVs seemingly destined to revolutionize not just our approach to car driving, secluding it away from our everyday activities, streamlining traffic, nearly eliminating human-caused errors and consequently boosting society’s welfare , but also the perceived dogmas of our age, questioning even the importance of the founding pillar of our capitalistic Weltanschauung, ownership: indeed, the widespread adoption of AI-propelled cars will inevitably produce lasting, disruptive effects in many segments of the sharing economy, from the car-sharing market to rental cargo transport and agriculture.

The brave new world of AI

This is not just a theory; in a certain sense, the future is already here.

According to a survey conducted by BCG, over 58% of people were willing to take a ride in an AV as early as 2015, and the number has only been growing in recent years. In turn, this newfound approval of AI-driven cars has prompted a shift of paradigm in our perceived conception of vehicles, from one in which cars were only treated as an asset to another in which they were elevated to the status of service.

Under this new mentality, cars, especially on short distances, will be employed when and where the users desire it, thus becoming capable of easily satisfying the most diverse customers’ needs and creating an unbeatable competitive advantage for those companies which will embrace the AI revolution.

Furthermore, utilizing AVs would allow car renting companies to cut costs by eliminating human drivers, while at the same time ena

bling them to charge a price comparable to that of conventional competitors due to the increased flexibility offered: in turn, this will also incentivize further development, therefore sparking even more interest on the technology.

AI contributions, however, will not be limited to the private sector but also affect the public one, by filling existing gaps in the transportation network, further decreasing parking space requirements and lowering consumers’ costs.

Moreover, AI’s transformative effect could propagate even beyond the borders of private transport, potentially interesting the cargo market too. Autonomous guidance, for example, could be easily implemented on trucks for long-distance travels, mainly due to the stable highway environment, and potentially make truck-sharing programs between companies a reality: in turn, this could also allow to solve the driver’s shortage issue, reduce the transportation cost and implement a system capable of 24/7 long-haul runs. As a matter of fact, according to a PwC report focused on the EU sector, self-driving trucks will cut the logistics expenses by 47% by 2030, thanks to gradual reduction of the human factor, and reduce the delivery time by 40%; these potential improvements are set to define the market in the next decade and to become key competitive advantages for the tech companies entering the sector.

Along with the car industry, even agriculture will benefit from AVs development. The usage of AI could open the doors to a new era of farming, one in which self-driving vehicles will perform all the highly repetitive tasks, like irrigation or harvest gathering. Precision agriculture, now a relative rarity, will become a staple, with fleets of autonomous tractors conducting most of the everyday activities.

The consequent increase in output, driven by the reduction of costs and the rise in marginal productivity, will also allow tackling the demographic pressure of sustaining an increasing global population. With this goal in mind, the Chinese company YTO has already unfolded the first project of driverless tractors and is aiming to soon start the mass production.

Today, by deciding whether or not to adopt AI we are given the chance to write history, for autonomous driving carries the potential to be as far-reaching as the change from horse-drawn carriages to cars.

We must not waste this opportunity, and instead, draw the line that leads to a better world.


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