High Fives

This video made me smile.

It also made me think about how archaic the act of sticking out our hands to summon a vehicle is.

“Grandpa, what’s a taxi cab?”

“Oh they were these yellow automobiles, driven by humans, that would take you where ever you wanted to go in New York and you would get them to pick you up by standing in the road and sticking out your arm to hail one.”

“They didn’t drive themselves and you couldn’t use your neural chip to give it commands?”


Über Shitty

Uber drivers are protesting Uber again:

Drivers wielding megaphones stood atop giant piles of dirty snow in Queens this morning, railing against Uber’s recent decision to cut fares by 15 percent. “Shame on Uber,” chanted hundreds of New York City-based drivers, in between the airing of grievances. As the crowd occasionally got too close, Uber’s private security guards would emerge to shoo protesters away — only to be met with a chorus of boos. They all want to get paid.


Uber says that since the fare reduction went into effect, driver earnings have gone up 20 percent, compared to the prior two weekends before the fare cut. “That’s a lie,” Diallo said, shaking his head. “It doesn’t take a math degree to know that less does not mean more.”

Back in December of last year it was reported that Uber was raising funding giving it a valuation of $62.5 billion.

Seems there’s not enough money to go around to all the drivers.

Oh, and remember, having pesky humans driving is only a stop gap before Uber deploys their driverless cars.

‘Exclusive RIght’

From Reuters, Taxi owners, lenders sue New York City over Uber:

Taxi owners and lenders on Tuesday sued New York City and its Taxi and Limousine Commission, saying the proliferation of the popular ride-sharing business Uber was destroying their businesses and threatening their livelihoods.

The lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court accused the defendants of violating yellow cab drivers’ exclusive right to pick up passengers on the street by letting Uber drivers who face fewer regulatory burdens pick up millions of passengers who use smartphones to hail rides.

I use Uber all the time in San Francisco, but I’m also aware it’s not the most upstanding business.

There’s a reason people flock to Uber: the experience of requesting and paying for a ride is seamless. What pisses me off is hearing taxi owners whine, bitch, and complain about Uber rather than figure out a way to improve the process of hailing a cab. No group should have an ‘exclusive right’ to business over others. Fuck that noise.

[To be clear, I could spend many blog posts on how much Uber’s business practices piss me off too. They’re a shady bunch.]

Adapt or Die

Yellow cabs in NYC might be getting an overhaul:

The technology inside many New York City yellow taxis is in for an overhaul after regulators on Thursday approved a trial run for systems that calculate fares using global positioning.

The changes mean the back seat “Taxi TVs” could be on the way out, along with dashboard-mounted meters that display fares in red blocky alarm clock-style numbers.

Imagine that!

Instead of suing to keep Uber and Lyft out of NYC, yellow cabs are overhauling their system to better compete—and provide a better customer experience (we hope).


Elias IsQuith on the whole Uber-vs-DeBlasio thing:

When it comes to American politics, “progress” has no set definition. But it is usually associated with figures who in another era would’ve been called “liberal.” Progressives are almost always supportive of LGBT rights, feminism and the sexual revolution; and that’s forward-thinking in its way. But when de Blasio (or most anyone else) calls himself a progressive, he isn’t claiming to be a man of the future. He’s merely signaling to voters that his ideal government is hands-off on sexuality but supportive of the welfare state.

It shouldn’t be necessary to point this out, but there’s nothing about that version of progress that requires de Blasio be nice to Uber. The kind of progress that Uber represents (which is technological, not social or political) has nothing to say about civil rights or redistribution. It doesn’t have a point of view; it just is. But because we use the same word for two different concepts, many of us assume — often unconsciously — that political and technological progress always walk hand-in-hand.

As IsQuith says, being technically progressive and politically progressive are not the same thing.