The company is trying to solve basic problems baked into its business model: From Uber’s point of view, it’s great to have tons of drivers on the road, because that means customers don’t have to wait as long to get picked up. But from drivers’ points of view, having fewer fellow drivers on the road is best, because it means less time idling and earning no money (since drivers get paid only per ride, not on an hourly basis).Singal wonders whether what Uber is doing is anything different from the usual maximizing of profit within the current "American framework in which workers are increasingly alone, batted around by epochal forces, simply trying to get by." So I guess the question is comparative creepiness. Or... if something is common enough, is it just not creepy anymore?
So Uber has introduced all sorts of nudge-y tricks to try to keep drivers driving. Some involve gamification — drivers can earn certain (meaningless) badges if they meet certain performance benchmarks — while others involve subtler forms of engineering, like building menus and interfaces in a way where certain options are easier to click. Drivers, Scheiber’s reporting reveals, often feel they’re being nudged into working more than they want to for less than they feel they should be earning.
I see I have a tag for creepiness. What is creepiness and why should we care about creepiness as opposed to simply whether something is good or bad? I found 2 useful things:
1. "The Age of Creepiness" (The New Yorker, July 9, 2015):
Half a century ago, there were squares and libertines, stalwarts and histrionics, private lives and public personalities. Today, in our self-scrutinizing, liberated time, these categories have got scrambled, and distinguishing between a charmingly revealing Instagram post and a bomb of oversharing requires daunting feats of judgment. Looming behind many missteps is the threat of creepiness: a fear that, out of all the free paths open to the modern social actor, you have picked the one that is invasive, obviously needy, and perverse.2. "On the Science of Creepiness/A look at what’s really going on when we get the creeps" (The Smithsonian, October 29, 2015):
Being creeped out is different from fear or revulsion, [says a psychology professor]; in both of those emotional states, the person experiencing them usually feels no confusion about how to respond. But when you’re creeped out, your brain and your body are telling you that something is not quite right and you’d better pay attention because it might hurt you....
[T]here’s an evolutionary advantage to feeling creeped out, one that’s in line with the evolutionary psychology theory of “agency detection”. The idea is that humans are inclined to construe willful agency behind circumstances, seek out patterns in events and visual stimuli, a phenomenon called pareidolia. This is why we see faces in toast, hear words in static or believe that things “happen for a reason.”...