Originally Posted by Rustic Charm
Let's put the 'reliability' issues aside for a moment and think if the economic costs to society.
There would be many hundreds of thousands of people who work in the freight business. Many, maybe most, receive very little, but it's still a reliable occupation and a way of providing for family
Look at what automation has done so far for the lives of workers? What has it done for all the gains of the industrial era?
Yes, automation is a huge cost benefit to large rich corporations and their boards and ceo's. But, automation also cuts jobs and puts people into poverty.
What will ultimately be the cost to many non first world countries or developing countries if many low paid seafarers loose the only way for them to provide for them and their families? No health care
, no welfare, unable to afford education?
For a start, would we see piracy
increase? Theft or even worse.
In some many ways we are looking to a dim future for many.
Ignoring the fact that the standard of living in western countries has been on a steady upward trend even with automation creating supposed poverty...
If the goal is to provide, charity, just fund a charity. There are plenty out there, so pick one that matches your preference.
Back to the original point: As suggested, there will likely be a skeleton crew at least initially but if you can cut the crew from 15 to 3, that's a big savings.
Given the human ability to really stand watch 24/7 with complete focus, there is no reason to expect any degradation in safety
Outside of current
hotspots, piracy is likely not much of an issue. Pirates rely on the crew to pilot a hijacked ship to a new destination
by threatening the crew. Assuming no crew, the owner can shut down the engines until the authorities arrive...or even better, pilot the ship to the authorities with the pirates onboard. If it really was a concern, a half dozen automated water
cannons, could more safely repel pirates than guys dodging bullets with fire hoses.
The biggest hurdle is the cost of 3rd world crew. If the crew is cheap
enough, they will continue to use crew. As soon as it is cheap
enough, they will switch to automation. To pretend anything else will happen is foolishness.