Earlier today I read a post on TechCrunch discussing the inevitability of driverless trucking. In the United States trucking and transportation is one of the country's largest industries.
According to the American Trucking Association, more than 3.5 million people are employed as professional truck drivers and more than 8.7 million are employed in the industry in both trucking and non-trucking jobs.
That means that an industry that represents the combined populations of Wyoming, Vermont, Washington DC, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, and Maine stands to be significantly impacted - with many of those jobs being outright eliminated - by the development of driverless trucking.
While driverless cars may have multiple potential advantages, the idea that an entire industry of this size will not do everything within its power to create regulatory hurdles for driverless trucking technology is wrong.
The American Trucking Association, other affiliated trade associations representing specific aspects of the trucking industry, and the labor union known as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters will throw up significant barriers to the adoption of driverless technology.
And they will have a bi-partisan audience for their message.
The American Trucking Association's political action committee (PAC) made 74% of its contributions to republican candidates, and the Teamsters have a long history of contributing to democratic candidates.
Opposition to driverless trucking will also not be a hard message to sell to the public.
The idea of an eighteen-wheeler hurtling down the highway while being controlled by a human being hundreds of miles away is an idea that will make more than a few people nervous.
And as a profession truckers occupy a unique place in our culture. Truckers are invoked in songs, movies, and presidential campaigns. If you've never seen a T-Shirt referring to truckers as the "Backbone of America", you've never taken a road trip through the middle of the country.
I have multiple uncles and one brother who have spent their whole lives in the trucking industry, three of them as truck drivers. It's not wrong or corrupt for those individuals (and the millions like them) to try and do everything they legally can to preserve the only profession they've ever known.
Because, while my uncles are intelligent, the idea that they will transition from thirty plus years of driving a truck to virtually controlling a truck via a computer terminal, at close to age 60, is hard to imagine.
That said, like typewriter manufacturers, my uncles and brother and millions of others in the trucking industry might ultimately be displaced by the march of progress.
However, it might be better for founders, investors, and public officials to anticipate the dislocation that can occur with truly disruptive technologies like Uber or driverless trucking and do what they can to minimize the impact - before it occurs.
Because the reality is that while innovation, progress, and free trade may represent net gains to humanity, when some people lose a job, they lose it forever.
And it's easy to extol the virtues of innovation, and it's underlying principle of "creative destruction" - as long as it's not you being creatively destroyed.