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Uber and the Making of an Algopticon – Insights From the Daily Life of Montreal Drivers’

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Document pages: 32 pages

Abstract: Ten years up to the present, Uber Technologies has become a world leader in the market for transportation via private cars. Using machine learning and artificial intelligence (Kadous, 2017), the company is revolutionizing human tracking and geolocating technologies. Moreover, the application resorts to a third-party evaluation — a 5 stars rating system — to further examine the in-car experience and discipline drivers accordingly (Meredith & Sorkin, 2018). This article aims at contributing to the research on the algorithmically intensified control of — drivers in the case of Uber. It argues that the application’s algorithmic apparatus is playing a threefold role; first, it engineers the overall labour process through a set of decisions that dictate the organizational setup. Second, it assures the intensification of production which allows an organization such as Uber to simultaneously forecast demand and supply in 600+ cities and ensure 99.99 availability (Bell, 2017). And third, the algorithmic apparatus allows for a continuous documentation and categorization of actions conducted by all active subjects within the realm of the application. This system of intelligent machines is, in fact, inducing a state of “permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power” (Foucault, 1977) while inducing a sort of digital incarceration of drivers behind the wheel in their own cars. The Uber surveillance apparatus as interpreted in this article represents an extension of a wall-less Panopticon that we define as the Algopticon.

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