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“What Have We Done?”: Silicon Valley Engineers Fear They've Created a Monster

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chicago49
253 Driver
 Posted 1 year, 4 months ago

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https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/08/silicon-valley-engineers-fear-they-created-a-monster

“There’s something you need to know,” she said in a low voice, “and I don’t want you to forget it. When you’re writing code, you need to think of the drivers. Never forget that these are real people who have no benefits, who have to live in this city, who depend on us to write responsible code. Remember that.” I didn’t understand what she meant until several weeks later, when I overheard two other engineers in the cafeteria discussing driver bonuses—specifically, ways to manipulate bonuses so that drivers could be “tricked” into working longer hours. Laughing, they compared the drivers to animals: “You need to dangle the carrot right in front of their face.” Shortly thereafter, a wave of price cuts hit drivers in the Bay Area. When I talked to the drivers, they described how Uber kept fares in a perfectly engineered sweet spot: just high enough for them to justify driving, but just low enough that not much more than their gas and maintenance expenses were covered.

That's pretty tough to read. But it's not like we didn't know this was true already. Of course they are going to try and maximize profits, at the driver's expense. That's what businesses do. Heck they have a responsibility to do that. That's their whole reason for existence, right?

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    brownbear
    599 Rider
     1 year ago

    I hate to break it to you but this is Silicon Valley's MO. They do not care about the working man. They never have and they never will. That place is a cesspool of greed. They only care about creating the next Facebook or Uber and getting out with as much money as they can as fast as they can.

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    joeyj
    426 Driver Rider
     1 year ago

    No benefits. No guaranteed wage. Of course the gig worker is going to lose in the end. The only obvious solution is to unionize. If yuo hate unions, try driving for Uber for a while for your full time job. You will start to understand the point of them pretty quick.

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      PeterAshlock
      109
       1 year ago

      One thing that seems to be forgotten in all the comments about "guaranteed wage" is that taxi drivers have no guaranteed wage either. Their system is more fair to the driver though because it is structured to include the costs of doing business in the fare. The taxi driver pays a flat fee to the company to "rent" the car for the shift, they are then responsible only for the gas. That flat fee covers all the issues regarding the vehicle, insurance, maintainance, wear and tear, depreciation, etc. Thus the driver is only responsible for the income generated after they have covered their "nut", the gate fee for taking the car out. After the unions lost their power, the taxi drivers also had no benefits.

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    TonyAlmeida
    1139 Rider
     1 year ago

    "When I talked to the drivers, they described how Uber kept fares in a perfectly engineered sweet spot: just high enough for them to justify driving, but just low enough that not much more than their gas and maintenance expenses were covered."

    and

    "...manipulate bonuses so that drivers could be “tricked” into working longer hours. Laughing, they compared the drivers to animals: “You need to dangle the carrot right in front of their face.”

    Show Hide  3 Replies
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      rojasarm05
      1
       1 year ago

      Well !  let’s see what happens next !!! Someone is watching !!! 👀

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      chicago49
      OP 253 Driver
       1 year ago

      This is literally the quote I posted above. Why is this comment featured.

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    cheesehead
    519 Driver Rider
     1 year ago

    Yikes. That doesn't look good.

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    lionfool
    230 Rider Driver
     1 year ago

    Kind of unfair to blame this on engineers like the quote implies imo. It's the execs that make these unethical decisions.

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    PeterAshlock
    109
     1 year ago

    Another aspect to this predictable low brow mentality by Uber/Lyft is the outrageously bad navigation system. If you know your way around you will notice that often the route suggested by the GPS is strangely long and circuitous, if it can route you onto the freeway to go all the way around the city to a point you could go to more directly on the city street, often it will. That is why I ignore the navigation system except for short rides into unfamiliar neighborhoods and sometimes ask a passenger what route they suggest, if I am new to an area.

    I had engineers in the back seat discussing the GPS/navigation system and talking about how they were instructed to design the system to choose the third best route of the options.

    In order to maximize the possible income from these systems it is in the drivers best interest to take as many fares as possible in as short a time as they can find them, take the passengers by the most efficient route possible so you can get rid of them and fin...

    Read more...

    Another aspect to this predictable low brow mentality by Uber/Lyft is the outrageously bad navigation system. If you know your way around you will notice that often the route suggested by the GPS is strangely long and circuitous, if it can route you onto the freeway to go all the way around the city to a point you could go to more directly on the city street, often it will. That is why I ignore the navigation system except for short rides into unfamiliar neighborhoods and sometimes ask a passenger what route they suggest, if I am new to an area.

    I had engineers in the back seat discussing the GPS/navigation system and talking about how they were instructed to design the system to choose the third best route of the options.

    In order to maximize the possible income from these systems it is in the drivers best interest to take as many fares as possible in as short a time as they can find them, take the passengers by the most efficient route possible so you can get rid of them and find another fare. This is really only feastible by knowing your way around and not being dependent on the GPS. All the systems allow the company to control the driver, if the driver has more knowledge than the company there is nothing they can do other than try to punish drivers for not following a prescribed route which is not likely to happen because there are too many things out of control of the company and that is where the drivers need to focus. Similarly like a UNION, an excellent institution when done right, to protect the drivers.

    Read less...

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    dawn
    44
     1 year ago

    In their defense, the engineers are just doing what the company has taught them to do. They have probably been trained in a way to create features that benefit the company, and not necessarily the driver. If they don't do it, the company would be happy to hire a new group of engineers that will, and they won't be hard to find. It's all about $$ and status

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    FannyPack24
    65
     1 year ago

    True already?  We knew what they had but we didn't know they actually commented on this stuff.