Digital Transformation: David Edgerton on “Alternative Futures”

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“I hear a lot that some of these technologies are inevitable like for example driverless cars. What’s your view on that?”

David Edgerton: “Well, it could happen, but you only have to think about the particular arguments that people typically make to see that they are implausible. One reason they’re implausible is that they don’t admit of any alternatives. For example, people talk about driverless cars. There are alternative ways of organizing transport in the city. For example we could get rid of private cars tomorrow and insist that everybody travels by bus. This would free up the roads for a lot more buses. We could get anywhere, not with driverless buses but with buses with drivers but we would not have to drive around in our own vehicles. But that’s not on the agenda. The story is being driven by the Googles of this world not by public transit auhorities. The point is we do need to think not just about the digital but about what we need for example in the area of of transport. There are many more ways of organizing the future of urban transportation than driverless cars.”

David Edgerton is the Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and Professor of Modern British History at King’s College London.

“Digital Transformation: Visions of Nations, Companies, and People” is a film by Manuel Stagars.

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