Saturday, January 31, 2015

Uber alles

The new world of work, Uber-ized:
Just as Uber is doing for taxis, new technologies have the potential to chop up a broad array of traditional jobs into discrete tasks that can be assigned to people just when they’re needed, with wages set by a dynamic measurement of supply and demand, and every worker’s performance constantly tracked, reviewed and subject to the sometimes harsh light of customer satisfaction.
 Professor Arun Sundararajan thinks it's not a bad thing:
“We may end up with a future in which a fraction of the work force would do a portfolio of things to generate an income — you could be an Uber driver, an Instacart shopper, an Airbnb host and a Taskrabbit,” Dr. Sundararajan said.
“I think it’s nonsense, utter nonsense,” says Robert Reich.

Sundararajan's vision of the future somehow echoed a familiar quote:
"... in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wished, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd, or critic." (Marx, The German Ideology)
Of course, Marx assumed a society post-scarcity– distribution "to each according to his need," etc. The Uber economy might not be that bad, undergirded by a fairly generous basic income guarantee, universal health insurance... nah, that would be communism!

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