The Mirage of the Marketplace

“Increasingly, what underlies the debate over the so-called sharing economy is a nascent, bigger battle about how society wants machines coordinating and governing human activity. These apps don’t match and route people by hand. Instead, software and underlying algorithms make these technologies work. Companies throughout the ‘sharing economy’ — like Postmates, Handy, and TaskRabbit—all depend on the use of machines to match, sort, and assign tasks effectively at massive scale.”

In “The Mirage of the Marketplace: The disingenuous ways Uber hides behind its algorithm,” Tim Hwang and Madeleine Claire Elish delaminate Uber’s engineering of supply and demand in order to raise questions around the role and responsibilities of automation.

(CC BY-NC 2.0-licensed photo by Thomas Hawk.)