No More Jobs, Uber Behaves, and a B-Side With Your Waffles


Our Jobs Are Going Away. Why Isn’t That a Good Thing?
Nearly nine million Americans make their living either as truck drivers or working in that industry — and that doesn’t count supporting industries like truckstops. It’s not hard to see that self-driving trucks are going to hit us like a human-driven truck. Scott Santens’s long, important piece traces the inevitability of self-driving technology and its impact on our economy. We’ve seen massive disruption before (the interstate highway system decimated small towns around the U.S.), so how can we prepare? Santens is an ardent basic income advocate, so that’s his solution for how to reap the benefits from the upcoming technology dividend. He concludes: “No one should be asking what we’re going to do if computers take our jobs. We should all be asking what we get to do once freed from them.” (Also by Santens this week and even more controversial: an extended take on why the recent AI-beats-human Go match shows that jobs are for machines, not people.)

Uber and Lyft: Part of the System​, Not Just Disruptors
More than 20 percent of people surveyed in major American cities sold their cars and didn’t replace them because they rely on a mix of car-hailing services and mass transit. So it follows that Uber and Lyft customers are more likely to use public transportation, according to a study by the trade group American Public Transportation Association. Hoping to increase its public transit ridership, Los Angeles County is considering a partnership with Lyft to connect commuters with the companies and share data. Washington D.C. — along with Boston the U.S. city with the lowest per capita car ownership and highest highest public transportation usage — is considering contracting services to transport people with disabilities via Uber. The UberACCESS pilot program connects disabled people to vehicles that can accommodate a wheelchair. On a wider scale, such a move could save billions of dollars. Becoming a fundamental part of a city’s transportation system is a nice way to position yourself for a driverless car future (see above). In cities where Uber hasn’t been well received, supplying rides to people with disabilities could be a step toward becoming a valued part of an existing system — not just a disruptor.

Uber Not Taking Advantage of D.C. Mess
Also on the Uber-trying-to-be-part-of-the-solution tip: Yesterday’s hastily announced shutdown of the Washington, D.C., Metrorail system caused all sorts of annoyance, but Uber wasn’t the culprit. Yes, surge pricing came into effect, but it was capped at 3.9x (Washington Post). That’s an expensive ride, to be sure, but it’s nowhere near what happened New Year’s Eve, when Uber in some cities surged to 9.9x.

Save Waffle Records
Waffle House is not a NewCo, as far as we know. The snarkiest among us could argue it’s barely a restaurant, although in some parts of the country it’s your only choice at 4 a.m. This week we learned that the chain also has a long history of commissioning and distributing borderline-insane songs about itself (NPR). If only all content marketing was this enjoyable.

Photo: Raymond Clark

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