Trucks will someday drive themselves out of warehouses and cruise down freeways without the aid of humans or even a driver's cab -- about that there seems little disagreement. The question is how soon that day gets here. And while the answers vary -- technologists, not surprisingly, are more bullish than truckers -- billions of dollars and a growing parade of companies, from tiny start-ups to the country's biggest trucking operations, are betting it will be here sooner than most people think. This year, companies and investors are on pace to put just over $1 billion into self-driving and other trucking technologies, 10 times the level of three years ago, according to CB Insights, which tracks the venture capital industry. Tesla is widely expected this week to showcase an electric truck that will have some self-driving capabilities.
Preparing for the unknown is not as hard as it may seem, though it implies fundamental shifts in our policies on education, employment and social insurance. Were we to plan for specific changes, we would start revamping curriculums to include skills we thought would be rewarded in the future. For example, computer programming might become even more of a staple in high schools than it already is. Maybe that will prove to be wise and we will have a more productive work force. But perhaps technology evolves quickly enough that in a few decades we talk to, rather than program, computers.
Imagine this scene from the future: You walk into a store and are greeted by name, by a computer with facial recognition that directs you to the items you need. You peruse a small area -- no chance of getting lost or wasting time searching for things -- because the store stocks only sample items. You wave your phone in front of anything you want to buy, then walk out. In the back, robots retrieve your items from a warehouse and deliver them to your home via driverless car or drone. Amazon's $13.4 billion purchase of Whole Foods, announced Friday, could speed that vision along.
On Monday, Apple will show off its latest software and hardware, including Macs and iPads, at its annual conference for developers. The most anticipated item is a new voice-controlled speaker that would compete with the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices. Fans of Warren E. Buffett -- at least those with deep pockets -- have another chance to buy the billionaire lunch. An auction for a meal with Mr. Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, at Smith & Wollensky in New York City began Sunday evening and runs through Friday, with bids starting at $25,000. The entire bid will support Glide, a nonprofit group that runs antipoverty programs in San Francisco.
"This was an opportunity missed," said Michael Lamb, Pittsburgh's city controller, who has called on Uber to share the traffic data gathered by its autonomous vehicles. The deteriorating relationship between Pittsburgh and Uber offers a cautionary tale, especially as other cities consider rolling out driverless car trials from Uber, Alphabet's Waymo and others. Towns like Tempe, Ariz., have already emulated Pittsburgh and set themselves up as test areas for self-driving vehicles. Many municipalities see the experiments as an opportunity to remake their urban transportation systems and create a new tech economy. Yet Pittsburgh shows the clash of private-versus-public interests that can result.
He added that the more optimistic consumer sentiment recorded since Mr. Trump's election "hasn't translated into what's happening in dealerships where we're trying to sell cars." Moreover, the top six automakers in the American market all reported declines from their April sales a year ago, and in every case the falloff exceeded analysts' forecasts. Wall Street took notice: Shares of Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were down more than 4 percent, and General Motors shares fell almost 3 percent. In April, automakers sold 1.43 million cars and trucks, down from 1.5 million a year ago. But even before those totals were reported, automakers had started preparing to trim the number of vehicles they are making, which almost always means jobs are eliminated.
Roughly 163,000 oil jobs were lost nationally from the 2014 peak, or about 30 percent of the total, while oil prices plummeted, at one point by as much as 70 percent. The job losses just in Texas, the most productive oil-producing state, totaled 98,000. Several thousand workers have come back to work in recent months as the price of oil has begun to rise again, but energy experts say that between a third and a half of the workers who lost their jobs are not returning. Many have migrated to construction or even jobs in renewable energy, like wind power. "People have left the industry, and they are not coming back," said Michael Dynan, vice president for portfolio and strategic development at Schramm, a Pennsylvania manufacturer of drilling rigs.
The backdrop for Professor Arrow's influential early work was the centuries-long recognition that majority voting can produce arbitrary outcomes. Consider a legislature choosing its leader from among three candidates: Alice, Betty and Harry. If the legislature were to vote first on Alice versus Betty, with the winner running against Harry, it could come to a different decision than had it first started by voting on Alice versus Harry. Because the order with which the legislature takes votes is arbitrary, the ultimate winner of this system of majority voting becomes arbitrary. That puts politics in an awkward corner.
When Nathan Kecy graduated from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire a decade ago with a bachelor's degree in communications, he found himself with about $10,000 in debt and few clear career options. He first found work as a door-to-door salesman ("a pyramid scheme," he recalls) and then in telemarketing. Finally he landed a job as an infrastructure specialist for Datamatic, a Texas-based water-meter-technology company. He was traveling across the country installing meters, making a decent salary. But he lost his job after the company restructured in 2012, he said, and soon he found that his skills weren't easily transferable to a new field; Datamatic's technology was proprietary, and his expertise in the company's installation program wasn't appealing to employers outside that particular industry.
The village is poor, even by the standards of rural Kenya. To get there, you follow a power line along a series of unmarked roads. Eventually, that power line connects to the school at the center of town, the sole building with electricity. Homesteads fan out into the hilly bramble, connected by rugged paths. There is just one working water tap, requiring many local women to gather water from a pit in jerrycans.