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UBER no threat to taxi drivers but Google will drive them to extinction

By: The Leader @theleaderspeaks
Published: Monday, June 2, 2014 - 16:32 GMT Jump to Comments

London taxi drivers are upset about their livelihood threatened by UBER. All taxi driver’s are under a worse threat - extinction by automation.

London taxi drivers are up in arms about the threat posed to their livelihood by new technology. The Licensed Taxi Driver’s Association (LTDA) says that the Uber mobile app is, to all intents and purposes, a taxi metering device.

Cab drivers and their professional association have every reason to be worried, but not about UBER. All too soon there will be no London cab drivers of any description. In London and in other great cities around the world, cab drivers - licensed or unlicensed - are under threat of extinction from automation and there is no known remedy.

The Uber app is far more than a journey metering system. It is, in every way, the thin sharp end of a very unpleasant wedge. Uber allows the aspiring passenger to find and book a cab, track the cab’s whereabouts, and check on the pick-up ETA. It also quotes a fare, tells the driver which route to use, tracks the journey length and duration and takes payment for the trip from the passenger’s pre-registered payment card.

Passengers are happy. The days of standing on wet and windy streets peering hopefully into the oncoming traffic trying to spot the pallid, yellow, roof-lights on vacant London “Black Cabs” are a miserable thing of the past.

As if this was not enough, a recent study by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne at Oxford University suggests that 47% of all categories of jobs providing employment today could be automated within 20 years. The writers also say that taxis will be a rarity in many places by the 2030s or 2040s.

Last week, Google announced they would soon launch their own driverless cars and demonstrated a prototype. The two seater, with a maximum sped of 25 MPH, will make a perfect city taxi cab. It could be available within a couple of years.

Unless the strategists at Google and Uber are a great deal slower out of the gate than evidence would suggest, the two companies are already talking about the Google Uber Cab. The GOOBER CAB will be cheaper to build and to run, safer, better for the environment, more reliable and more convenient than today’s black cab. The GOOBER will work 24 hours a day, never make questionable racial, political or cultural pronouncements and could be programmed to say “I had that Justin Bieber in the back of my cab last week”.

Technological innovation is as certain as death and taxes and all three tend to be unevenly distributed. The less well educated and the less well off will suffer the pain of the new technological revolution first and will feel the effects for longer.

Governments, not least the British government, should have started planning how to manage the changes and cushion their citizens from the worst effects a long time ago. All the parties are frighteningly silent on the subject of "the future of work". They may rue their carelessness.

London Taxi drivers, better off and better educated than many, are threatening to gridlock the capital for a day in protest over the Uber metering business. Think what they might do when they realize that their livelihood has gone for good and all in the twinkling of an eye.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.

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