Martin Ford: “It’s going to be very hard to stop everyone from driving”
Where is automated driving headed? In a new video series, we ask high-profile experts for their outlook. In the first part, New York Times bestselling author Martin Ford explains why humans will continue to drive.
Let’s look at the big picture! At a recent developer conference of technology company Continental in Copenhagen, 2025AD had the chance to talk to several renowned experts from various fields. We asked them what impact automated driving will have on our society, how public trust in driverless cars can be created and whether humans will still drive cars in 2050. This week, we start with Martin Ford, futurist and author of the bestselling book Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. Stay tuned for interviews with historian Peter Cochrane, Club of Rome Co-President Prof. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker and artificial intelligence Oxford expert Michael Osborne in the weeks to come!
2025AD: What impact will AI have on the jobs of the future?
Martin Ford: One thing we know is that artificial intelligence and similar technologies are going to automate a lot of work that is routine and predictable. So, the best kind of training is training that prepares you to do things that aren’t predictable. That might include things that are more creative and things that involve forming deep interactions with other people. Things that involve empathy or understanding others - those kinds of human-type jobs. Those are probably the things that you want to emphasize.
2025AD: What impact will automated driving have on our society?
Ford: It will have all kinds of impacts. I think it will certainly save a lot of lives once that technology is perfected. It will totally redefine cities, because you’ll need less room for parking as automated cars are utilized more. So, its’s going to be completely transformative in many positive ways for society I think.
2025AD: What does it take to create public trust in driverless cars?
Ford: Well, it’s a complex problem. I think part of it is transparency - so that people understand how the technologies work so that they are not so mystical and like black boxes that operate in ways that people don’t understand. Part of it might mean regulation, having the confidence that there are laws and regulations that govern the way these technologies work so that it is not just depending on individual companies to make the right choices. That’s something I think that has to evolve over time. But I do think that as these technologies become more prevalent, as they become demonstrably effective and they produce better outcomes, people will begin to trust them and that’ll be a good outcome.
2025AD: How will you spend your time during the ride once cars are self-driving?
Ford: I’d say most of the time I’d probably work. I’d probably be on the internet working but maybe if I had a late night I’d probably sleep, who knows. That’s the whole point of it – that you can do whatever, at that moment, makes sense for you.
2025AD: In 2050, will humans still drive cars themselves?
Ford: I think some people probably will. I mean some people like to drive. It’s going to be very hard to stop everyone from driving. I think some societies might make that choice. Eventually they might say it’s too dangerous for human beings to drive because we’re not very good at it compared to computers – but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I think right now there are a lot of people that really enjoy driving and want to do it. So, I think people will continue to drive for the foreseeable future.
About our expert:
Martin Ford is a futurist and the author of two books: The New York Times bestselling Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (winner of the 2015 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award and translated into more than 20 languages) and The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, as well as the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm. He has over 25 years’ experience in the fields of computer design and software development. Ford is a frequent keynote speaker on the subject of accelerating progress in robotics and artificial intelligence—and what these advances mean for the economy, job market and society of the future.