Choreography With Computers | Asian Scientist Magazine

The notion of “choreography” is essential to understanding the customer experience design challenge for local on-demand services. The New York Times has another good piece about this topic, about Life After Driving and its impact on society.
 
Assistant Professor Akshat Kumar’s research on choreography autonomous vehicles points to the design of customer experience that connects people and brands. Once an autonomous vehicle arrives at a customer’s home, is a human needed or can a robot deliver the package? What if the home has a lock box for deliveries? Can the robot open it, or does a person need to be there? What if they customer prefers deliveries to their back door for security?
 
These expectations need to be gathered and factored into the choreography that we are starting to think about with regard to vehicles in order to create satisfying personal experiences of brands and service.
Because it is extremely difficult to develop policies that are failsafe under every scenario, Professor Kumar’s algorithms currently play more of a supportive role, where the decision of whether or not to accept their recommendations is left to a human operator. Ideally, however, autonomous agents should be able to deal with unexpected occurrences. Driverless taxis, for example, should be able to react to accidents or other major disruptions on the road.

Source: Choreography With Computers | Asian Scientist Magazine | Science, Technology and Medicine News Updates From Asia

How Uber’s ‘Invisible’ Workforce Could Affect Your Taxes | WIRED

Summary: U.S. economic analysis is currently flying blind.

The result is that we have one economic picture generated by official jobs reports that seems to do well capturing the dynamics of the 160-million-person workforce that we can measure, and which leaves us rather in the dark about another 100 million or so people who are doing something but who aren’t showing up in the labor force. Reduce that number by the very aged or infirm, and there still are many tens of millions of people living their lives, spending money, not starving, not homeless, and even thrivin

Source: How Uber’s ‘Invisible’ Workforce Could Affect Your Taxes | WIRED

Alphabet Launches the First Taxi Service With No Human Drivers – Bloomberg

Drivers Not Wanted. For a Transportation Network Service to operate, it needs cars. The benefit of Uber, Lyft, and other on-demand models is the driver brought their cars to the problem of moving people. They also shouldered the maintenance, customer interactions, and cleaning up after sloppy riders (many times I’ve seen the driver carrying barf bags for drunk passengers to minimize wiping up if they vomit). Waymo is going the other way, which requires a massive investment in autonomous automobiles.

Imagine Uber or Lyft today if they’d paid for all the cars on the road. Does not pencil out.

The autonomous car unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. said on Tuesday it will soon start chauffeuring people in minivans without “safety drivers,” staffers that man the steering wheel. Waymo is doing so in a limited region of Phoenix, where it is running a pilot program with volunteer passengers. The move, a first for any company, is a major milestone for the internet giant’s bid to lead the crowded pack trying to commercialize driverless technology.

Source: Alphabet Launches the First Taxi Service With No Human Drivers – Bloomberg

India’s Ola ties up with Microsoft for connected car platform

This is a big win for Azure and Microsoft AI services, which presumably will support voice ride requests. According to the article, Microsoft is in talks to invest as part of an Ola migration to Azure.

As part of its partnership with Microsoft, Ola plans to weave the U.S. company’s digital assistant Cortana into its Play service for voice recognition capabilities, the source said.

Source: India’s Ola ties up with Microsoft for connected car platform

Lyft’s chief operating officer will leave by the end of this year | TechCrunch

COO departure at Lyft is now part of the company’s roadmap.

Tibbens’ planned departure means that Lyft now needs to fill a key leadership role on top of planning an IPO. This news comes almost exactly one year after a report that then-president elect Donald Trump’s transition team was looking at Tibbens as a potential candidate for U.S. Transportation Secretary, which Lyft denied (Trump appointed Elaine Chao to that role).

Source: Lyft’s chief operating officer will leave by the end of this year | TechCrunch

CDOT, Lyft partner to lower number of people driving high – KRDO

Getting high in Colorado this evening? Lyft and the state’s Department of Transportation have a ride home for you.

“Because 420 is used as a time that folks choose to use marijuana, we’re starting a 320 initiative encouraging you to plan ahead. If you’re going to use marijuana, we want you to plan ahead for a sober ride home,” said Michelle Peulen with CDOT.

Source: CDOT, Lyft partner to lower number of people driving high – KRDO

Tax reform must help workers in America’s new sharing economy | TheHill

Note that the Tea Party’s Patriot Citizens Fund is taking a side in the on-demand economy definition of a worker: They are independent contractors, not employees. There is no explanation of how the New Economy Works to Guarantee Independence and Growth Act actually eases 1099 tax reporting. The conclusion seems to be that gig workers are getting away untaxed or failing to pay enough taxes, which is only part of a bigger problem, the definition of work, that the House bill addresses.

In the final analysis, our tax laws not only need to be reformed, they need to be updated to reflect today’s economy. More and more people are working multiple jobs as independent contractors because it fits their schedule, their lifestyles, and their financial needs. They can spend their mornings doing graphics or website design, then spend their afternoon driving for Uber or Lyft, and then deliver groceries for Instacart in the evening. The legislative language proposed by Sen. Thune and Rep. Rice would simplify the tax code for gig economy companies and their independent contractors, and therefore incentivize more people to participate and succeed in these new jobs. There’s no cost to taxpayers, and it’s true reform.

Source: Tax reform must help workers in America’s new sharing economy | TheHill

Bozoma Saint John On Uber as Official Ride of Pop Culture | Q&AA – AdAge

An interesting discussion with Bozoma Saint John, Uber’s recently installed CMO, who comes from Apple. When asked why the marketing program she is launching, that characterizes the company as a foundation of a new pop culture, does not address Uber’s many PR problems, she replied:

Q: Why not address those controversies in your marketing, though?
Saint John: It’s such a serious matter that it’s very important that it be addressed internally, as a process shift, not a marketing shift. This cannot be a marketing ploy. I’m an employee too, and it matters to me that we change. We can utilize pop culture and other things to talk about the brand, but these things that need to be fixed need to be fixed and are not a marketing agenda.

It is hard to imagine how Uber’s daily appearance in the news as a potentially abusive employer that rides roughshod over city and regional laws can be ignored. The idea that celebrity drivers and pro-athlete riders will gloss over the underlying public concern about Uber is a stretch.

And, aesthetically speaking, because pop culture’s official ride will be yesterday’s news tomorrow, the campaign flies in the face of the freedom of expression pop culture purportedly represents.

Source: Bozoma Saint John On Uber as Official Ride of Pop Culture | Q&AA – AdAge

SoftBank’s $10bn Uber deal held up by last-minute dispute

This deal will die or, because of Travis Kalanick’s intransigence, will be repriced so low that many current investors will object. This is a case where the founder needs to get out of the way of their creation for it to succeed.

The bad blood between Travis Kalanick and the venture capital firm, which sued the entrepreneur earlier this year, represents a final hurdle to clear before SoftBank names a price for a tender offer for Uber shares.

Source: SoftBank’s $10bn Uber deal held up by last-minute dispute

It’s GrubHub on Trial But Uber Has a Dog in This Fight Too – Bloomberg

Watch this trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, who has been hearing the GrubHub case without a jury, heard closing arguments Monday. She will be the first federal jurist to determine whether a gig-economy driver deserves the protections of employees under California law. Uber lost a similar case in the U.K. and is now appealing.

Source: It’s GrubHub on Trial But Uber Has a Dog in This Fight Too – Bloomberg