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Taxi Drivers and Buggy Whips

Written by Gary North on February 3, 2015

In 20 years, there will be no taxi drivers. In less than a decade, they will begin to be replaced.

Uber is now working with Carnegie-Mellon University to do research on this. But this is not news. This story appeared in May 2014.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sat for a keynote interview at Code Conference this afternoon in Southern California.

During the interview, Code editor Kara Swisher asked Kalanick what he thinks of self-driving cars.

“Love it. All day long,” said Kalanick.

“The reason Uber could be expensive is you’re paying for the other dude in the car. When there is no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere is cheaper. Even on a road trip.”

Kalanick said that self-driving cars ordered up through a service like Uber will eventually bring the cost of ridership so far down that car ownership will “go away.”

He said self-driving Uber fleets will also be safer and “more environmentally friendly.”

Obviously lots of Uber drivers will lose their jobs over time if this vision comes to life. Kalanick is OK with that.

“It’s quite a ways off,” he says, “but if I were talking to one of the drivers we partner with, I’d say look: this is the way the world is going to go and if Uber didn’t go that way it won’t exist.”

Moore’s law guarantees this. Computer capacity doubles every year. In a decade, your new smart phone will be 1,000 times more powerful than the one you own today, even if it’s brand new. In 20 years, it will be a million times more powerful.

Self-driving cars are coming. Therefore, so are self-driving taxis. When communities finally authorize self-driving cars, Uber will be there. So will competitors.

Taxi medallion — licensing tax — prices are collapsing all over the country. The cities cannot collect this extortion for much longer. This is great news.

One national firm, Medallion Financial, lends money to taxi companies to buy medallions. Its share price since the coming of Uber indicates what is happening to this market.


Certain professions are doomed. Taxi driving is one of them. Local governments selling million-dollar medallions/licenses can’t stop this. Nothing can stop this except the reversal of Moore’s law. There is no sign of this yet.

Continue Reading on www.latimes.com

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