Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In which people discuss things I don't understand

If you read nothing else, don't miss Matt Buchanan's spectacular essay (first in the list)

  • The Uber Endgame
    One of the more subtle underlying issues with the rise of Uber is the company’s slow siphoning of the political will to fix existing—or build new—public transit infrastructure in major cities. In Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America, Princeton Professor of Politics Martin Gilens shows that—as he put it in an article with Northwestern Professor of Decision Making Benjamin Page—“economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” As the wealthy—and, as the prices of Uber and Lyft fall, the slightly less so—essentially remove themselves from the problems of existing mass transit infrastructure with Uber and other services, the urgency to improve or add to it diminishes. The people left riding public transit become, increasingly, the ones with little or no political weight to demand improvements to the system.
  • Uber Is Laying The Groundwork For Perpetual Rides In San Francisco
    This week in San Francisco, Uber took a first step toward realizing the vision that Kalanick described. The ride-hail company began experimenting with a new ride option called Smart Routes. The idea is drivers will be able to both pick up and drop off passengers along a specific route, which in turn allows them to quickly pick up their next passenger. For now the company is experimenting with only two routes: Fillmore Street between Haight and Bay, and Valencia Street between 15th and 26th.
  • Uber will partner with University of Arizona for self-driving car research
    Uber is setting up a new self-driving car project at the University of Arizona, according to an email sent out today to university employees. The new project will focus on self-driving car technology, particularly the mapping and optics challenges involved in developing a fully autonomous vehicle. The news comes just months after a major hiring push for Uber's Pittsburgh center, which many complained had hired so many experts away from the local robotics lab that they had effectively gutted competing projects.
  • Platform Cooperativism : Nov 13-14, NYC
    On November 13 and 14, the New School in New York City will host a coming-out party for the cooperative Internet, built of platforms owned and governed by the people who rely on them. The program will include discussion sessions, screenings, monologues, legal hacks, workshops, and dialogues, as well as a showcase of projects, both conceptual and actual, under the purview of celebrity judges. We’ll learn from coders and worker cooperatives, scholars and designers. Together, we’ll put their lessons to work as we work toward usable apps and structural economic change.
  • How The Heavy Hand Of Government Stifles The On Demand Economy
    Ride hailing companies continue to face pressure from courts and politicians who say drivers should be treated as employees rather than independent contractors. Labor unions are pushing this view, while ignoring that many ride hailing drivers are drawn to the flexibility of being independent contractors. (Meanwhile, taxicab drivers in many cities are also considered independent contractors, a fact that is rarely mentioned in these debates.)

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