Dystopia or Utopia: What Do We Need to Guide Us to a Positive Outcome?
Despite their positive potential, the current trajectory of AVs could be disastrous for cities, social equity, public health, and other public goods. Are we repeating the same mistakes we made in the 1920s and 30s, when we saw only the upside of automobiles and imposed one-size-fits-all regulatory structures to accommodate cars, which ultimately ended up destroying our cities in the process? Our errors are rooted in a culture that finds it difficult to think through the consequences of our actions. Imagine the public health outcomes if walking is “designed” out of our lives, to be replaced by convenient door-to-door mobility. Are some investing in AVs because their revenue model is advertising? Will the only people to make money from AVs be those who make use of travelers’ captive time and attention? The future market of mobility is no longer the vehicle, but time. So why not live three hours away from work, and order up the bedroom or office AV to get to work? There is a path out of the horrors of our current trajectory, but it requires radical changes in our regulatory approaches-changes that must start to be put in place now. Let’s discuss what these might be and how we go about implementing them.