While startups are busy trying to put (more) people out of work writing or doing artwork, how about turning some attention towards the DMV? Here in North Carolina the wait times to get a license or renew your license with one that meets the Real ID requirements is ludicrously long. Before the feds pushed back the Real ID requirement for flying to 2025, I had scheduled a renewal for my license towards the middle of this month… in December.
While actual humans want to write content and produce artwork, few people are eager to work at the DMV. (And it’s hard to blame them.) The WRAL story I linked to reports “about 33% of DMV jobs remain unfilled.” It doesn’t report what the wages are, but a quick search for DMV jobs in NC turned up one for “tag clerk” that comes in at a little more than $12 an hour. I think I might have a little insight into why those jobs aren’t being snapped up.
But, if ever a job begged to be automated, it’s the thankless paper-pushing that makes up handling license renewals, title transfers, and so forth.
While content creators have some legitimate concerns and complaints about AI, there’s little ethical dilemma in automating DMV work. It’s the kind of rote, unpleasant, mindless, bureaucratic process that’s ripe for automation.
As it stands, they’ve basically automated renewals online as long as they’re simple. A chat bot asks you questions and then lets you renew if you have the right info. It’s actually really annoying because you have to walk through the script and there’s a short delay while it processes each response. You’d expect you could just fill in a form, but no. I suppose they were trying to replicate the actual DMV experience.
For whatever reason, issuing the “Real ID” version requires a human interaction.
Even so, wouldn’t an AI process that gathers the info and then just spits out a receipt or QR code for a person to scan and eyeball documents be far more efficient? Surely that’s within the technical skills of the folks working on ChatGPT and whatnot. Do 90% of the work before a person even gets into the mix and then let them do verification or handle any special cases.
Another idea, of course, would be to pay people a living wage to work at the DMV. It’s bold and untested, but I feel like it could actually work.
(Ironically, I am using an AI-generated image for the featured image for this post. However, I have a negative budget for running my blog and no humans were put out of work by AI supplying funky artwork here.)