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The transportation revolution.

Saturday, 24 October, 2015

Much like the Information Revolution and “cyberspace” thirty years ago, we are on the cusp of a revolution in personal transportation, and in all likelihood a dramatic altering of the way we move other stuff around that isn’t people. Our present paradigm of personal transportation dates from the 1930s, and has been refined to become utterly dominated by the private automobile. It’s due. Many ideas purporting some future vision of personal transportation reject the construct of private automobiles like a petulant child. Not just this is merely reactionary and may be safely ignored.

What transportation will look like in 30 years is as unpredictable now as the smartphone, and its implications (selfies, Grindr, overseas-direct shopping) were in 1985. The following are the bulletin-board systems, DR-DOS, Compuserve, ARAPANET and so forth that lead to how we get outside our heads today. The elements are

  • non-petroleum-fueled drivetrains,
  • the 20% to perfect we have achieved, mostly in the last 10 years, regarding autonomous vehicles,
  • car-sharing services especially as an alternative to daily or hourly rental,
  • the liberation of the livery trade (Uber, etc.)
  • the decentralization of some kinds of shopping (anything that need not be refrigerated, other hard goods and soft lines)
  • the concentration of other kinds of shopping (narrowly focused, well stocked superstores, the idea the grocery stores are five times as large and 20% as common as they were 30 years ago), including the adoption of groceries by general merchandise retailers and the adoption of general merchandise by grocery stores.
  • the people who essentially sit in a cubicle not needing to travel to a specific location to do so,
  • the abundance of information and entertainment in the home or on your phone, and
  • about five thousand other things I can’t imagine, several of which no one has yet imagined.

Someone, somewhere will work out how to do Webvan, Amazon Prime Direct or similar profitably. This person is more clever than I am. No one will make it work anytime soon; please stop claiming Webvan 2.0 is the future being handed to us. Whatever these elements are at least one or two or hundreds of them are not in place. When I hear about Amazon Prime Direct deliveries by drone, I know I am listening to someone who is incapable of serious contemplation.

People don’t go to the movies anymore unless you require a specific excuse to get out of the house and can’t think of anything else. I don’t know what’s coming, but one thing I know for certain, the self-appointed experts know even less.

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