London Black Taxi Driver lost ‘The Knowledge’ – AI is attacking your job too!

Back to Blog
Cab Drivers in London

London Black Taxi Driver lost ‘The Knowledge’ – AI is attacking your job too!

Taxis have been a part of London life for over 300 years. Initially referred to as “hackneys”, these horse-drawn carriages transported customers and patrons for a fee during Elizabethan times (i.e., 1558–1603).

Captain John Baily established the first official taxi rank in 1634, with four horse-drawn carriages operating on the Strand (central London). These coachmen wore specific uniforms, and a fixed price was charged for each journey.

London taxi drivers’ knowledge was their key competitive advantage for hundreds of years. Their unique service differentiator meant everyone in London used a cab to get from A to B.

In fact, to become a coveted London black taxi driver, you had to invest three years of your life in learning ‘The Knowledge’, i.e., how to predict the fastest route from one location in London to another at any time of day or night using your eyes and ears (i.e., human sensors).

‘The Knowledge’ was the taxi driver’s super driver’s superpower—e satellite navigation on mobiles, which gave everyone the same superpower for free.

Now, no one gets lost.

No one takes the slowest route to their destination.

Everyone has access to the same, up-to-date information as London black taxi drivers—if not better. Computer algorithms predict the best route using real-time data from hundreds of thousands of humans, mobile devices, and satellites coordinating together.

Taxi drivers did not lose their skills, and their skills were no longer scarce. They did not suddenly become worse at their jobs, but machines could predict journeys much better. Everyone gained access to ‘The Knowledge’, and when it became digital, Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing companies appeared, providing the real-time data we now crave.

Despite taxi drivers being very friendly, knowing exactly where you need to go, having ample room to sit, and there being an endless font of London history, people went for cheaper alternatives, e.g., Uber.

We no longer stand on the side of a London street as it buckets down rain, hoping a taxi will appear (or disappear if it decides to).

Machines have enhanced human skills in ways no one predicted or thought possible. We now rely on GPS, use apps to hail a cab, track its location in real-time, pay digitally and rate the driver after our journey as the owner.

London black taxis are still a thrill which makes me smile – where else do you get that memory of hearing a cockney accent rave about football or the Royal family with glee as you pass Buckingham Palace before being deposited at your hotel?

But there are many less of them.

Today, AI is everywhere. Soon, it will create better, faster, and more accurate content and predictions than most people.

Work is changing forever.

So, what makes you think your job is safe in the Age of AI?

Check out my previous blog at – Is AI Content Generation a Race to the Top or the Bottom? – Digital Automation and Robotics (digitalautomationandroboticsltd.com)

Find me on LinkedIn – Kieran Gilmurray | LinkedIn

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Blog