As I sit here at home in the summer of 2014 contemplating the next few years of for my business, my family, and my personal life, I realize that perhaps my children aged 12 and 9 will never actually learn to drive a car, unless they choose to do so for purely recreational purposes. The driverless car is now technically viable and commercial models may appear within the decade. The driverless car is truly a discontinuous or disruptive innovation. It will change the way we live and the next generation of adults will know a truly different lifestyle and society to the one I have grown up in. In a world of driverless cars, what is the difference between a family car, a rental car, and a taxi? Perhaps there is none? How will that disrupt existing businesses and existing lifestyles? What shifts in society will it enable?

Unlike the electric car, which uses an electric motor and lithium ion batteries, the driverless car is a truly disruptive and discontinuous innovation. The change to electric motors is on the other hand merely a continuous innovation. It doesn’t disrupt the market; it merely offers an alternative technology for an existing system and operating model. It does shift the market for energy supply and it shifts the demand on natural resources, encouraging lithium mining rather than oil drilling, but life for everyday citizens doesn’t change that much.

The technology industry tends to discard the value of continuous innovation—doing things better rather than ...

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