When Your Boss Is an Algorithm


For Uber drivers, the workplace can feel like a world of constant surveillance, automated manipulation and threats of ‘deactivation.’

The algorithmic manager seems to watch everything you do. Ride-hailing platforms track a variety of personalized statistics, including ride acceptance rates, cancellation rates, hours spent logged in to the app and trips completed. And they display selected statistics to individual drivers as motivating tools, like “You’re in the top 10 percent of partners!”

This type of "motivation" can sometimes get a bit much:

The drivers get in-app notifications, heat maps and emails with real-time and predictive information about spikes in demand. A driver who wants to go home and is trying to log out might be prompted with an automatic message: “Your next rider is going to be awesome! Stay online to meet him.”


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