"The gig economy as we know it will not last," Jon Lieber, chief economist at Thumbtack, and Lucas Puente, an economic analyst at the firm, said in the report. "In the past few years, analysts and reporters have obsessively focused on transportation technology platforms such as Uber and Lyft and delivery technology platforms such as Instacart and the workers needed for these on-demand services. This narrow focus on low-skilled 'gigs' misses a larger story. These relatively commoditized, undifferentiated services are supplementing income, not generating middle-class lifestyles. Moreover, these tasks are overwhelmingly likely to be automated over time, performed by self-driving cars and drones."
Uber is upfront about its plans to replace drivers with robots over time. "Autonomous driving technology has the potential to drastically reduce deaths in cars and make transportation even more affordable," an Uber spokesperson told CNBC. "That's an exciting future and one Uber intends to be part of, but that transition for technical, regulatory and adoption reasons, at scale, will take some time."
"In the meantime, our focus is providing flexible work opportunities for as many people in the world as possible," said the spokesperson.