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Futurist's Pick Of The Month: Self-Owning Car at Your Service

Self-Owning Car at Your Service


FuturesPlatform-Autonomous vehicles

The self-driving cars may be a huge step, but wait until you meet the social-minded, self-owned autonomous vehicles. The autonomous cars that own themselves are not only capable of self-maintenance but also programmed to benefit the people and society as a whole.

In the future filled with driverless cars, traffic will be controlled by software and the private car ownership has become all but forgotten, thanks to the efficient mobility services. If we add the symbiosis of two powerful technologies, AI and blockchain, into play, we could have autonomous cars in the most real sense of the term. These cars would be intelligent decision-makers able to handle their business deals, contracts and finances independently, and have full ownership of themselves. 

To enter the market, the vehicles would need a loan or some other type of funding, for example, investment made for the public good. Another option could be a kind of lease contract with either a human or a corporation which would enable the car to gain its full ownership by paying back the invested money. For scaling up the system, the self-owning cars could even collaborate and share their surplus earnings to buy new cars which would, in turn, pay their “birth loans” back to their providers. 

The cars would earn money to pay its production and operating costs by both selling rides and also by getting a commission from the wide selection of other additional services provided for the customers during the trip. Customers, in turn, would get a chance to select the best offers based on price or other individual preferences. In some cases, the customer might even get a free sponsored ride, and the car would get its fee by serving as an advertising platform. 

What makes this concept attractive from the perspective of the common good is that machines have no intrinsic need or motivation to accumulate wealth; they follow the rules programmed into their software. Thanks to the decentralised and immutable character of blockchain-based systems, these coded rules would be transparent and publicly auditable.

So, if the world will be dominated by self-owned cars coded to keep only enough profit to maintain themselves, the rides could get much cheaper, and affordable mobility could become a fundamental human right. Another exciting alternative is to program them so that the surplus they earn would be distributed to a universal basic income chain.

These ideas might sound highly idealistic, but the visionaries and technology developers behind them, like former Google Software engineer and Bitcoin developer Mike Hern, claim that several fast-paced technologies could make self-owning machines real. Of course, even if we would possess the needed technologies, the path to self-owned cars would be rocky unless the players who dominate the car industry and operate big fleets were not on board. 

If the centralisation of technology, power and wealth keeps strengthening, we might face a situation requiring significant systemic changes to maintain welfare in our societies. Could these types of technologies be used to make decentralisation part of the solution? Moreover, could we even reach unparalleled abundance with the help of autonomous machines?

No matter what’s your stance, the advent of several life-changing technologies is here. We should take responsibility for their development by thinking how to utilise them so that they pave the way for a better future. So please accept my challenge and be bold!

Marianna Mäki-Teeri
Foresight Analysis Manager @FuturesPlatform

The colliding phenomena in this analysis

green dot-Small Robot Cars and Taxis STRENGTHENING

Completely autonomous robot cars are on their way to the consumer market, and they are going to revolutionise the current traffic culture. First robot taxis are already offering rides for passengers.

green dot-Small Blockchain Revolution STRENGTHENING

Blockchain is the technology behind the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. It is one of the most discussed emerging technologies by the financial sector, and it is considered the next technological revolution by social and cultural visionaries.

green dot-Small Universal Basic Income STRENGTHENING

Universal basic income means that every citizen is regularly given money to ensure his/her livelihood. In recent years, different kinds of basic income models have found their way to the political and societal discussion, particularly in Europe. Italy and Finland have been pioneering the basic income model, but other countries too have expressed their interest to experiment with the idea.

red dot-small Abundance WILD CARD

If technological development leads to increasing automation, it is possible that people will enjoy unparalleled levels of intellectual and material abundance. The relationship between the individual and society would be radically redefined if machines took care of most contemporary tasks and responsibilities.


Futurist’s Pick of The Month (FPM) combines current and anticipated trends to create new and surprising images of the future. FPM highlights the fact that trends tend to have startling interconnections, which may produce extraordinary results. FPM aims to help to see those connections and how they might shape the world.

To find out more about future trends, login to your Futures Platform account and click Phenomena. Start typing the name of the trend in the search bar and once it appears, click the Eye icon to review it.

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