“Uber didn’t invent the idea that its technology would be neutral. That comes from a Silicon Valley idea.”
—Alex Rosenblat, technology ethnographer and author of
Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work
In a video with THINK from NBC News, Alex Rosenblat shares her research to explain what happens when we turn algorithms into managers—and what this means for the future of work.
So Uber drivers had contracts up until August 2016 that said a driver remits a certain percentage of the fare to Uber. So Uber is going to set the price, the passenger is going to pay it, and you’re going to remit, let’s say, 25% or 28% plus fees to Uber. And then Uber quietly started experimenting with what drivers would get paid. What Uber had done was implement a new pay policy experimentally without informing any of the drivers or updating the terms of their contract.
It really highlighted to me how the Silicon Valley culture of experimentation can go really wrong when it comes to employment, when your livelihood is on the line.