Has Uber Built an Ant Farm For Its Drivers?


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When it comes to experimenting with contractors’ behavior, how far do gig-economy companies like Uber go? Pretty far, according to a new in-depth account by The New York Times’ Noam Scheiber.

In a sense, the entire Uber platform is like a Skinner box or ant farm for isolating and examining how different incentives and inputs produce different outputs from riders and drivers. Uber is constantly tweaking the behavior of its drivers, the people formerly known as employees, with gamification-style interface elements — like badge rewards or notifications that pop up to say, “You’re $10 away from making $330 in net earnings. Are you sure you want to go offline?”

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