Unemployed or Ubemployed?


Uber is tangled in a mess of red tape. Despite enjoying explosive popularity last year, expansion of the taxi app has been tempered by transport regulators and claims that the company is stealing jobs from existing operators.

In an attempt to dispel these accusations, CEO Travis Kalanick claimed this week that the app could create “50,000” jobs by the end of 2015 as “part of a partnership” with European cities. According to Uber, the platform creates “20,000 new driver jobs every month,” with drivers in New York earning a median $90,766 annual wage (as long as they can put up with their passengers’ Spotify playlists). Kalanick’s comments on the apparent economic benefits of Uber may be an attempt to build bridges with the ever-expanding list of cities that have banned the service.

Job stealing is a hot topic in the tech industry after the Universal Basic Income concept re-emerged in a TED New York talk by Albert Wenger – who’s concerned about robots and apps displacing our jobs. ‘A lot of our economic policies were decided in times of scarcity’, Wenger says, and now we need new economic rules to adjust to our current ‘digital abundance’, where the availability of information is more important and valuable than ever. Among his ideas is a flat rate of payment for all, and even more interestingly, the ‘right to be represented by a bot’. Robots may soon steal all our jobs, but we’ll be too busy being Uber cabbies to notice…or at least until Google’s autonomous cars take over.