The combustion engine, its noise and its pollution, gasoline, driver’s license, taxi drivers or even the idea of having a vehicle, symbols of what will no longer be.
In 2050 there will be no cars with an explosion engine. Nor are drivers who handle them or many of the jobs they generate. Without the human factor, road fatalities will be reduced to a minimum. Even the concept of buying a car will seem old. The parallel end of oil will lower pollution levels, knock CO2 levels, and even change global geopolitics. The farewell to the cars will alter the physiognomy of the cities that, now yes, are for the citizen. A world without cars exemplifies what will no longer be in 2050.
The history of the car is, to a large extent, human history of the last century and a half. The first internal combustion engines are part of the innovative wave of the late nineteenth century. The surnames of those inventors adorn many of the current brands and models: Benz, Peugeot, Daimler, Otto, Diesel, Ford … Along the way they found the beginnings of the exploitation of oil, forming a couple that has lasted more than a century.
“In 2050, cars with internal combustion engines will only be seen in museums and movies,” says Harvard economist Tony Seba. And they are very inefficient vehicles. “We use our cars only 4% of the time, the other 96% remain parked,” recalls the co-founder of RethinkX, a think tank, about the changes that technology is causing in our lives. Inefficiency has other edges: the more than 1,000 deaths that, only in Spain, cause accidents. The pollution of their engines ends with the lives of thousands more people. In addition, cars are the first emitters of greenhouse gases. Without their engines, almost all of their ills would disappear.
In less than two decades, 95% of the kilometers traveled will be in autonomous electric vehicles used on demand in a much cheaper and efficient model that Seba calls transport as a service. People won’t need to buy a car, it will be limited to using it. “These fleets will use cars 40% of the time or more.” Each vehicle will travel to the year 150,000 kilometers in front of the 15,000 of a car on property. Because of this increase in efficiency, we will need 80% less cars, he adds.
The implications of this world almost without cars go beyond the scope of transport. As it happened with the end of the horse culture, the end of the cars will have its losers. Taxi drivers and other professional conductors, traditional mechanics, insurance agents (for the Descent of Accidents), members of the Civil traffic guard, driving school teachers and the DGT examiners, sellers and car manufacturers, Oil extractors and industrialists will have to devote themselves to something else. Automation, driven by artificial intelligence and robots, will be fattened by traditional employment.
All these jobs that will not exist in 2050 are in the list of more than 700 occupations susceptible to the automation elaborated by two professors of the University of Oxford in 2013. Although the list and the percentages have been varying with successive reports, between 50% and 80% of human-occupied jobs today will not exist or will be performed by robots in the coming decades.
There is no advanced society that resists that 50% or more of its working-age population is displaced by robots. Without their money, without their consumption, domestic demand sinks and, with it the economy. Therefore, there are those who raise the need for a universal basic income (RBU). Finland has a pilot project in which 2,000 unemployed receive 560 euros per month in exchange for nothing. Also several American cities like Californian Stockton, will prove it next year. The idea has its risks, as it equates the consumer with the citizen. For many, in 2050, in the absence of work, RBU will be somewhat generalized.
Sociologist Steve Fuller is not so clear that people accept that they give him money just for living. “They prefer to be paid for things they do and have value for others,” adds this professor at the University of Warwick (United Kingdom) and passionate researcher of the future of humanity at the Breakthrough Institute. For Fuller There is another more practical reason: States will have more and more difficulties in raising the necessary money to mount a truly universal RBU.
However, Fuller believes that, still unemployed, humans worth a lot in 2050. “My alternative to RBU is based on the idea that technology will intervene in all aspects of our life in the future.” In this scenario, when you are born you will receive an account to register every click you make with the mouse and convert it into income in your checking account, he explains. What Fuller does is bring to the foreground that users, their data, are the basis for the success of companies like Google, Facebook or Amazon.
Here comes one of the biggest losses of the future: “An implication of this is that the distinction between work and leisure will disappear.” “To the extent that people will interact with machines all day long,” recalls Fuller. “We may not be performing conventional jobs, but life itself will be the work that generates income.” It is clear that Marxists did not think that we could be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But this reflects the radical technological change of capitalism: for the first time, work and leisure technologies are the same and are produced by the same companies, says the British sociologist.
At the base of that communion that have raised giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and all the companies that live on personal data is the end of privacy. For the president of the company Futurizon and convinced of the benefits of the future, Ian Pearson, if it is already complicated to remain anonymous now, with the advancement of the algorithms of facial recognition, the infinity of cameras and other technologies, “soon” “We’ll lose what’s left of privacy, both online and offline.”