What’s Driving Uber? Values in Computing and the ‘Sharing Economy’
The overwhelmingly individualistic,
power, status, and money orientation in the
values portrayed in Figure 1 are striking.
Perhaps this value set explains the contrasting view in the reaction of Transport
for London, which has refused to renew
Uber’s license to operate, declaring “that
Uber was not sufficiently ‘fit and proper’”
[ 22], a test which assesses a company’s
honesty, transparency, and competence.
That decision will impact some 40,000
drivers and 3. 5 million customers per
month [ 22]. The Uber value system also
explains some German Taxi driver’s rejection of an invitation to join Uber.com as
registered drivers, given the tight German
regulation of the taxi system, the valuing of
“consumer protection, safety and training”
[ 23] in the industry, and banning of Uber
with its model of self-employed independent free-lancers [ 23].
Such globalized models of wealth
generation are lampooned in Figure 2.
But that hands-off, exploitative model
underlying much of the ‘platform econ-
omy’ is increasingly under challenge in
the courts [ 2, 6, 15, 22]. Termed “apploita-
tion” [ 3] by Callaway, he depicts a brutal
technological straightjacket enforced by
systems that marginalize their workers. Do
such systems written by myopic hordes of
narrow ‘coders,’ really constitute a ‘great
leap forward for mankind’? We need to
wake up to the serious downside posed
by these ‘shiny new advances’ in platform
technologies. Maybe more durable systems
will result from making our students aware
of a less fashionable value system: one that
manages to incorporate a more balanced
focus on security, conformity, tradition,
benevolence, and universalism.
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harassment investigation. The Telegraph,
June 7, 2017; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
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York Times, June 13, 2017; https://www.nytimes.com/
Holder-Report-on-Uber.html. Accessed 2017 July 27.
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Workplace Culture. The New York Times, February
22, 2017; https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/
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intermediation and capitalisation of digital economic
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Kalanick steps down. News.com.au, June 13, 2017;
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Valuing the human health damage caused by the
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after evading the law with ‘Greyball’ tool. The
Guardian, May 5, 2017; https://www.theguardian.
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understanding of the future of AI is ‘limited.’
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20. Shen L. Donald Trump Muslim Ban: 200,000 Uber
Users Have Deleted the App. Fortune, Feb 3, 2017;
donald-trump-executive-order/. Accessed 2017
21. Shontell A. A Leaked Internal Uber Presentation
Shows What the Company Really Values in its
Employees. Business Insider Australia. https://
2014-11?r=US&IR=T. Accessed 2017 August 6.
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School of Computing and
Auckland University of Technology
Private Bag 92006
Auckland, 1010 New Zealand
DOI: 10.1145/3148547 Copyright held by author.
Figure 2: Where are we heading? Outsourcing Made Easy [ 23]