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    In addition they treat engineers very poorly during the interview process - I’ve heard multiple stories of offers extended at 9am with a “deadline” of 5pm to say yes or no. Everyone you work with will have been through that process. I asked about this when they reached out to me to work there and never heard anything back from the recruiter or engineer who reached out.

    There’s also this: https://twitter.com/joyding/status/568131541794029568, and this: https://twitter.com/joyding/status/568131905809301504

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      I might get flamed for being “political” here. Fuck it, I don’t care.

      Uber is one of the first openly Trumpist tech companies. Given that Y Combinator is closet Trumpism (the might-makes-right attitude to business, the anti-intellectualism) it won’t be the last. Let’s tally it up:

      • Glamorization of the self-indulgent lifestyle of the young, wealthy, self-indulgent male sociopath (or, to use Kalanick’s terminology, “baller”).
      • Maltreatment of workers and customers when it is convenient.
      • Open mockery of perceived “losers”. While I don’t consider surge pricing to be evil per se (although I’d prefer more transparency and user control over the trade-off between availability and price consistency) Kalanick’s smug defense (basically, amounting to “fuck the poors” with a shit-eating grin) of it is revolting.
      • Vicious and often irrelevant attacks (“opposition research”) on people, especially if they are women, who are perceived as threats to the company’s or the founder’s reputation.
      • A complete lack of a sense of responsibility, whether it’s for sexual assaults by unvetted drivers or hate crimes in the wake of Trump’s victory.

      In fact, the parallel doesn’t end there. Uber’s rise is owed in part to a rejection of a failed establishment (cab companies) just like Trumpism has been presented a rejection of a failed two-party duopoly. In the long run, though, Uber is going to be worse than the regulated cab companies, just as I think Trump is going to be worse than the Republicrat corporate-conservative duopoly.

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        Look, I agree with many of these points. But they’ve been made better elsewhere, by people who I’m more interested in listening to than RMS, and without unhelpful addenda like:

        Uber pays drivers peanuts; we should call it “Goober”, or rather “Guber”.

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          No RMS thought piece is complete without a terrible pun to alienate at least half the target audience.

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            I was actually alienated when he compared people with Downs Syndrome to pets in an attempt to justify eugenics. (not in his Uber post, fwiw)

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              Not when he was putting out his views on necrophilia? (Along with a terrible joke in the end)


              (search for the word, there’s no anchors on that page, sorry)

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          stallman.org? hell yes

          if anyone else is worried about Uber-like companies, I suggest reading articles by Evgeny Morozov. He’s fantastic.

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            Interesting that a political post has suddenly rocketed to the top of lobste.rs…I’m personally happy to see it, but I thought this kind of thing and the associated political debate was way off topic, what’s changed?

            #meta - I’m starting to feel like I want to be able to see who voters are or at least view a metric that has some personalised weighting, for example vote measurement biassed towards people I trust.

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              I’m not sure about Lobsters but I think there’s two parts to this.

              1. This was written by Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and a major contributor of GNU. He has a very strong sense of opinion in the intersection of technology and politics. This can be seen from the writing and style of the GNU Licenses.

              2. Many technologists and engineers that I knew back in college and even new graduates try to separate technology from politics and morality as much as possible. This was incredibly obvious back in Engineering Ethics 101. I was guilty of doing this back then too as I would always release my software under MIT License to avoid any complicated legality of a license with any real requirements and responsibilities. However, for anyone who is adverse to big data on people or is a privacy advocate like I am now, technology has serious implications on ones moralities and politics. It’s easy to say UBER is fixing a serious problem and taxis are basically cartels, but they also do some real sketchy things that are surprising at first but much less surprising once you understand the type of information they collect. I occasionally hear my friends saying they would welcome the Google overlords when they take over the world because they would make the world a more convenient place. I’m much more hesitant because once they have all the information in the world about everyone, a well-meaning or even malicious algorithm somewhere could start exposing or discriminating against groups of people for whatever set of data they collect. For example, dark skin tones are much harder to generate facial fingerprints and spacial maps for potentially discriminating against that category of people if that technology were to be used for any type of investigation.

              I guess I’m interested in this because it’s in the intersection of technology and politics as it pertains to privacy and freedom. I generally read articles on security and privacy for a similar end. Even though this is not a technical read, its a good summary of possible implications to privacy when such data is released,

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                Well, it’s actually a Stallman write-up, a slam of a high-valued startup, an expose, and a political piece all in one. It combines both evidence-based points with rhetoric with enough angles to appeal to a lot of people. Hence, its popularity.

                “#meta - I’m starting to feel like I want to be able to see who voters are or at least view a metric that has some personalised weighting, for example vote measurement biassed towards people I trust.”

                That’s not going to happen. I thought about it too but then decided against even asking. I noticed I’m already able to see heavy, political biases in what comments have them. They stand out on a site where community members usually focus on the non-political meat of an article. There’s at least one on this thread that illustrates the effect nicely albeit more obvious than usual. We don’t need surveillance in the Lobsters code to spot or filter out biases. ;)

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                I agree with Stallman, yet I use Uber all the time. In my case (and I think for most people too), convenience trumps everything. It certainly trumps fuzzy abstract notions of freedom. I know it’s bad for all these reasons enunciated in the post, but nobody else can offer the same quality of service.

                I think you can only fight abusive technology when there’s a better technology (or at least equivalent) that is not abusive. I believe most people who use Linux use it for technical reasons (it’s better for what they do) rather than ideological reasons. People are aware of the ideology, and might even resonate with it, but that is not why they use (or continue to use) the technology.

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                  I would suggest that for a better understanding of the real cost and effect of these things ‘Ideology’ is not the way to size up these things, but rather ‘externalities’ and responsibility.

                  The same argument you apply here could be applied to e.g. use of oil, economic inequality, rare earth metals being used in iphones and many other things. ‘I know it’s bad, I agree with the ideology, but it’s convenient so fuck it’ is effectually analogous to ‘I don’t have any interest in the actual cost or effect of this system holistically, but that’s ok because I only care about short term and/or I won’t be the one who has to deal with it’.

                  It’s really worth understanding the externalities of Uber, in the same way that you probably now understand that the externalities of oil are global warming, environmental pollution and destruction etc. The externalities of Uber are literal social decomposition as a commercial force bears down using financial weight on social systems that are too weak to defend themselves. Legal systems with the purpose of protecting the public are being circumventled, and new economic models that will in the medium term benefit neither the consumer or vendor, only the market are being wedged into place with a very near term end result that the service providers (individual taxi drivers) are getting royally screwed, the consumer will eventually get royally screwed when markets are monopolised, and systems of public funding and security are being suffocated through loss of tax revenue, control over safety of public systems, etc.

                  It is not a matter of ideology, it is a matter of you taking responsibility for the external effects which you are directly causing when you use oil/Uber/iPhones, etc.etc.

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                    Is Lyft or any other similar service available where you travel? Consider those.

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                      We have a local service called Liftago. They offer a bidding system where multiple drivers propose a rate and the customer picks his preferred cost/rating/car/time option. The drivers themselves are pretty happy with the arrangement. They make 30% more than with the traditional dispatching, which amounts to something around the average wage (after expenses). All drivers also must have a city license.

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                        Is there a limit on how low they can offer? Surely that is just a race to the bottom otherwise, hey, I’m here to pick you up in my 1983 Honda Civic, 7 previous owners, 3 out of 4 cylinders are still firing, that’s more than half, it’s cool.

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                          If you can get a city license with that and maintain a high enough rating, more power to you. Broke college student looking to get home after the bar will happily ride in your beater :)

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                            Yes, there are 4 fixed rates they pick from. Set by the municipality.

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                      While I am not a Stallman fan nor like the propaganda part I found it informational. I think it’s rather important to make such statements. It’s something I wished had a bigger weight when choosing a service. We are pretty much trained to look at certain factors, like price above everything. The problem with this might even be in language. Using the terms value and price have a hard time when being used outside the context of monetary value.

                      Right now those contexts are sadly mostly used by what people call populists. This makes it hard to argue in a way that doesn’t make one sound like someone who wants to enforce his or her own view. It is funny that people who argue with freedom force themselves to either do it the way Stallman does it or don’t give themselves the freedom to choose personal values or taking them from other people, whom they consider ideological. This forces people into a different ideology, that they consider to be free of ideology. But any set of moral values or the rejection of it is an ideology, for one has to base thoughts some “dogma” to take any rational decision based on that. So any rational decision is dogmatic in that sense.

                      The dogma that living (long) is a good thing for example seems to be something that many share. One might argue that this is rational, because living longer is better, because it give more opportunities. But then your dogma is that more opportunities are a good thing. You could also approach it on a more basic level and ask yourself the question why you want to make good/the right decisions, and so on.

                      Sorry, got a bit dragged away by the philosophy tag. Actually just wanted to say that I am happy to see such criticisms.

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                        Guber is an unregulated near-monopoly, so it can cut rates for drivers arbitrarily.

                        I have to disagree with that. It competes with taxi service for customers and other jobs for its drivers. So if it cuts rates arbitrarily, the drivers can go do something else.

                        Uber is selling low and losing money to destroy its competitors.

                        In order to do this, it will have to subsidise its users. What is so wrong about consumers getting lower-than-cost service? This is a good thing.

                        If you are a short-term thinker, you will be delighted to take advantage of this — until it controls the market and squeezes you forever.

                        It can’t control the market because it is already competing with taxi service not to mention other public transportation options.

                        Uber has changed the regulations that cover charging passengers for making cars wait.

                        This decision itself may not be objectionable. Taxis typically charge for making them wait. But that regulation is set by a city agency which is at least somewhat responsible to the people. Uber is a business headquartered somewhere else, which accepts no responsibility to the people of any city.

                        That is because city agency is paid by the residents. If the terms of service for Uber is so bad, consumers can just not use it. Residents don’t get to choose the city agency the way they can choose their transportation provider.

                        Uber plans to do away with human cab drivers.

                        Should we start a truckless union so trucks will be banned and each one replaced with 1000 manual haulers so that we can increase our employment level? Mechanisation has been the fundamental reason for the increase of our quality of life. AI will allow us to mechanise even more processes.

                        Stallman as always make great a great post with regard to user privacy and freedom, but when it comes to economic aspects there’s much to disagree.

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                          Uber is basically engaging in dumping. Once the taxis and Lyft go out of business, they raise rates. The taxis aren’t going to magically come back when that happens. And whenever there’s a new startup in Austin or Chicago or wherever, Uber just drops the price in that city to unprofitable levels, using the profits from all the other cities to subsidize until the competitor folds.

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                            For better or worse, Uber has actually decided to drop service in Austin (after bullying the whole city with misleading ads into various propositions they “secretly” sponsor), so, those other startups have full rule over here all for themselves.

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                              This is true: apparently 40% of the fare is paid by the greater suckers in the capital community. I don’t particularly mourn taxi services, but I also don’t think that Uber will last long enough to truly make the hideous dreams of Kalanick et al come true.

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                              Lower than cost service as the primary way of functioning is obviously not sustainable.

                              The simplified version of what is happening here:

                              • Uber is paying $20 billion to kill all of its competitors

                              • Uber can then price gouge, and build a war chest

                              • any new competitor will need to spend large amounts of money to get into the market, since Uber can crush them with their war chest

                              A market with an astronomical cost of entry is much less free than one with a low cost of entry. Letting Uber kill its competitors in an unsustainable fashion (dumping) will not be beneficial to anyone except Uber

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                              There was a conference in NYC this weekend about running these sort of on-demand platforms as cooperatively owned businesses. Lots of interesting talks and discussion: http://platformcoop.net/events

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                                I would happily use anything but Uber, but as the local taxi services in Toronto are deeply terrible it often comes down to the normal, ugly compromise of ethics for convenience.