The free market is relentless in cutting costs. Next up: cargo ships without crews.
Think of what this will do to Somali pirates. They can’t steer the ships. They can’t kidnap anyone. Their little boats cannot carry huge containers.
Think of the unemployment this will create in Somalia. Here is a Third World nation, desperately poor, and this technology now threatens one of the few areas of high-profit entrepreneurship.
Does this technology sound like a good idea to you? It does to me. Crew costs will fall to zero. Kidnapping ransoms will be a thing of the past. There will be fewer accidents.
But we can be sure that there will be cries of outrage in the shipping crew guild. We will hear of unfair labor practices. What are these practices? Eliminating labor altogether. “Unfair!”
Liberia licenses ships. Who will make such shipping illegal? What agency will police the oceans? There is no government agency to enforce employment conditions wherever there are no employees.
Technological change is guaranteed here. Lower costs will prevail. The threatened employees will have to find other ways to serve different customers. There is no government to appeal to in order to stop this technology from being adopted. There are no politicians to bribe to vote restrictions on this technology.
Innovation by innovation, production is getting cheaper. Goods are getting better.
It’s bad news for Somali kidnappers. It’s good news for the rest of us.
Captain Phillips will become a period piece.