3.5M truck drivers to be displaced by self driving in the US alone ? Nope. (aka The relevance of notifications in fake news spreading)

We have read many news reporting that 3.5M truck drivers ar about to be displaced by self driving in the US alone.

It seemed strange to me that truck drivers in the US account for 3.5M workers or 2.3% of their workforce. so I went to check at the US dept of labour… truck drivers make up 1.1% of workforce, so 1.6M workers.

I guess the person who originated the meme had this percentage and multiplied it by all the US population; 1,1% of 325M is indeed 3.5M (but active population is 45.5% of total)

(In my book I argue that they are not going to be displaced anytime soon. Quite the opposite, in the medium term they are going to increase thanks to ecommerce which relocates workers from shops to trucks).

But it seems interesting to me the acceleration in spreading of wrong ideas. From press to web sites to social media we have made two steps in the direction of acceleration of news spreading.

The first step is from paper to web sites, so we don’t need to wait one day before republishing / elaborate news thanks to online publishing; from web sites to social media (intertwined with mobiles) another step is the birth of instant notifications which again accelerates the pace of news discovery.

With press, publihers had many hours to analyse things and react, with online sites they could allow hours, with notifications on mobiles they have minutes (or seconds) if they want to become part of the page views generated by that information.

In all newsrooms there are a number of persons whose occupation is to look to competitors’ web pages and to react with instant articles. Accuracy is rarely verified, as the reputation of the first source is an implicit guarantee.

Thanks to mobile phones and notifications, in no time, mistakes become word-of-mouth truths.

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