A recent dig into census data found that being a truck driver was among the most common professions in the US largely because the work couldn't be outsourced or automated. The latter reason appears to be crumbling each day, though, and the folks in this occupation might be among the first to feel the sting of the autonomous driving world that's likely on the way.
A study from the University of Oxford offers some clarity on what's happening. Scientists there used US government data and machine-learning algorithm to identify the jobs most susceptible to automation and computerization. According to Fusion, the research found that machines could replace 47 percent of American jobs in the next 20 years.
Beyond just truck drivers, those who pilot forklifts in warehouses or agricultural vehicles on farms might have it the worst. "Those jobs could be gone very soon," Michael Osbourne, co-director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment, said to Fusion.
With the long-haul trucking industry already facing a driver shortage, it now has the further obstacle of finding new workers for a profession that's predicted to go through a massive disruption over the coming years. Of course, all of this sci-fi speculation assumes, society can overcome the technological, legal and even ethical questions to get autonomous vehicles on the road, which complicates this presumed revolutionary shift greatly.