Self-Driving Commentary: Over Uber

This post belongs to a series I’m calling Self-Driving Commentary, in which I spout and ramble on whatever is rattling around in my head pertaining to self-driving cars. Enjoy!

I really want to love Uber. I do. It’s the unicorn upon which all my hopes and dreams for a driverless future once rode, but one too many kicks to my ethics gland and I’m ready to pin my hopes on some other donkey.

Uber’s business model is revolutionary - yeah, you heard it here first. Combine UberPOOL and self-driving cars at scale and you have almost exactly what I’m dying to see as the future of transportation. And Uber is the first company I’ve seen to make meaningful strides in that direction.

Uber is no stranger to controversy, though - just check its Wiki page: “Criticism” spans half the article. I think the first of them I remember hearing was about underpaying drivers and circumventing regulations typically imposed on taxi companies (Oh, you mean there’s a reason cab fares are so expensive?). Then they rolled out the driverless cars in San Francisco without a permit. Then they broke the cab driver strike during Trump’s travel ban (prompting #deleteuber to trend on Twitter). And now it’s reports of rampant, endemic misogyny in the corporate office.

I know, I know - they say other companies aren’t exactly saintly, either, particularly where the treatment of women in the tech sector is concerned. But you have to admit that Uber’s track record of ethics missteps goes far beyond just “the cost of achieving growth as a startup.” Lyft is partnering with Cruise to roll out autonomous vehicles, Ford is looking to start up its own mobility-as-a-service division, and who knows what the hell is cooking over at Tesla, so there’s definitely hope elseware.

Maybe it’s a whole other ballgame at Uber ATC, and maybe I’m screwing myself out of a perfectly good job prospect, but this is not a company I want to work for.