How Will Self-Driving Cars Affect Workers? A Q&A with Carnegie Mellon’s Center for the Future of Work

New technology has always had a disproportional impact on a specific group of workers, CMU professor Lee Branstetter said.

Q: The center is focused on how “disruptive innovation” impacts everyone. What do you consider to be disruptive innovation?

A: “It can mean a lot of things,” Branstetter said.

Self-driving vehicles can reduce the cost of moving things, while increasing productivity and safety of transportation, but it can eliminate one of the few jobs that pays a high wage to people without a college degree, he said. It can be extremely disruptive to workers driving trucks, taxis and limos, adding that those workers have honed their skills and can’t just convert them to other jobs.