A central aspect of human behavior is that one of our most constrained resources is attention. We always seem able to find more energy, pack people into denser spaces, or squeeze more nutrition out of a hectare. But how much a person can focus on while awake is a limited resource. When you hit its limit you hit hard. Due to its limits, the global value of attention is always rising; not so for innovation or creativity. The harvesting and monetization of attention is the source of revenue for many industries such as television, Google, social media, and telecommunications.

Mostly this is about consumption, even if only of bandwidth. Attention is a critical, non-renewable resource for safety; too little and you get road fatalities. How many of those fatalities are a payment to social media giants? The assumption being made when enthusiasts for self-driving promise more productivity while traveling in an automated vehicle is that you can attend to something work related — giving over your attention to generating profit whether for yourself or someone else — or perhaps over to the Internet to be monetized by Google or a social app. Think of how much attention has been turned over to the Trump administration compared to what you gave to the Obama administration; hence the rise in fortunes for Twitter and Saturday Night Live as they harvest your attention. The frequently heard argument that the value of the data generated from your trip will soon exceed the cost of your trip speaks to attention; that data will be mined to find more routes to monetization. That data is about marketing, but without your attention, there is nothing to market to.

Effectively, vehicle automation monetizes trips by converting the driver’s focus on moving safely in congestion into attention on something else. Sprawl will be profitable to all who engage in harvesting your new-found attention while traveling. The ability for others to monetize your journey will be increased. Your daily Marchetti time budget will be farmed.


this appeared only hours after I blogged above.

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