Self-Driving Cars are Inevitable

Flour mills, McDonald’s, and cars that drive themselves

Photo by MAZOUZI ABDELADIM on Unsplash

The Mill Man

In 1785, Oliver Evans changed flour milling forever. Back in his day, flour was milled by hand. To get flour, a farmer would grow wheat on their own farm, take the wheat to the town mill, and local millers would grind the wheat into flour. Being a miller was a very common job, which is why the last name Miller is still so common today.

  1. It decreased labor costs, because an automatic flour mill doesn’t need a human operator. You don’t need to hire millers, just someone to make sure the mill doesn’t break. The new mill had higher upfront costs due to new high-tech parts, but it easily saved the owner money in the long run.

The Speedee System

You cannot drive through America today without seeing clusters of fast food outlets at every mile, every offramp filled with Burger Kings, Taco Bells, and KFC’s. This is not an accident; since the 1950s, fast food in America centered around getting drivers to stop off the highway, get their food, and leave as quickly as possible.

Self-Driving Cars

There’s an economic principle at play. Suppose that you have a good that people already want (like flour, or restaurant food). If you can create that good so that both of these are true:

  1. The volume is higher
  1. The wheat needs to be milled into flour
  2. The flour needs to be baked into bread
  3. The bread needs to be delivered to a store
  4. I need to purchase the bread from the store

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