To understand what the world will be like in ten years, it isn’t enough to look back at how different things were a decade ago and presume the differences will be comparable. The pace of technological change is speeding up so quickly, says Astro Teller, who leads the arm of Google that aims at “moonshots,” that one must look back 30 years to experience the same amount of discontinuity we’ll feel ten years hence.
A decade out, he continued, half of all cars on the road will be self-driving (and there would be more but for the fact that today’s cars are too expensive an asset to junk immediately).
The remarks took place Sunday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which the Aspen Institute co-hosts with The Atlantic. And it prompted a question from moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin.
Trying to imagine a rapid shift toward self-driving cars, Sorkin wondered if the public would be ready as quickly as the technology. “Today there are 35,000 fatalities on the road using cars that we all drive just in the United States,” he said. “What number does that have to go down to that it becomes politically palatable, to the public, that they get in the car, and there may very well be a fatality as the result of a computer?”