Transportation Technologies and Expectations

The optimal transportation systems of the future will not be the result of utopian reinvention, but of incremental technological revolutions, opines Michael Schrage.
April 15, 2010, 2pm PDT | Michael Dudley
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In an interview with "Big Think," Michael Schrage, a research fellow with the Sloan School of Management's Center for Digital Business, discusses his views on the future of transportation. He says,

"There's so many things going on that are so exciting that it's not clear to me what's the best bet. We have smart vehicles, smart devices, smarter people, better sensors, more information, the ability to have the technology act in a more nimble way. We have the ability to play with tax policy and congestion charges. So to me, the question is going to be, there's a tension between disruptive innovation and rapid iderative incremental innovation. But if you have enough incremental innovation in a short period of time, you got a revolution.[...]

[Have policy analysts] actually done the math and calculated the carbon footprint of fuel cells versus batteries versus internal combustion engines throughout the entire supply and value chain? Heck, no. And I think that's where we're going to see a lot of the policy battles because there are all manner of ways of allocating costs and responsibilities for the carbon footprint of an automobile, for the carbon footprint of a person."

Schrage points out that exogenous technologies -- such as mobile computing, entertainment and communications technologies -- have significantly changed the commuting experience in ways that transportation analysts (and science fiction writers) never anticipated.

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Published on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 in Big Think
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