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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Truck Drivers Have to Think, Too

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Making a point I noted some time ago, but from a different perspective, a commenter at Marginal Revolution explains part of why automation is not the threat that snobbish academics and pandering politicians would have us believe it is to "low level jobs" (as they like to think of them):

Photo by Rhys Moult on Unsplash.
For example, truck drivers don't just drive trucks. They also secure loads, including determining what to load first and last and how to tie it all down securely. They act as agents for the trunking company. They verify that what they are picking up is what is on the manifest. They are the early warning system for vehicle maintenance. They deal with the government and others at weighing stations. When sleeping in the cab, they act as security for the load. If the vehicle breaks down, they set up road flares and contact authorities. If the vehicle doesn't handle correctly, the driver has to stop and analyze what's wrong -- blown tire, shifting load, whatever.
There is much more for anyone who sees a truck on the highway and thinks driving is the whole job for the man in the cab -- not that automating that task is easy. That said, the following stands out: "When you see how hard it is to simply digitize a paper process inside a single plant (often a multi-year project), you start to roll your eyes at ivory tower claims of entire industries being totally transformed by automation in a few years."

It is interesting to consider the above in light of how much academics dislike being written off as irrelevant. To the degree that their fields are relevant to daily life it's part of the territory to the degree that the connection between their thinking and daily life is indirect or non-obvious. To the degree that many people disdain abstract thinking, it's a justified annoyance. But to the degree that they don't keep in touch with the world they're supposed to be studying, as seen here, it's unjustified. More, it is a sign that they need to re-think how they are working.

-- CAV

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