What comes after Uber and Lyft?

22GETAWAY-articleLarge.gif


Since Uber and Lyft are talking about leaving California we can take this moment to say "please do." As 2020 unravels, the roots of America's shortcomings expose the core issues that connect to the trunk of inequality. Technological progress since the industrial revolution has allowed resources to be aggregated exponentially more efficiently, but socio-economic inequality continues to fester like a virus with no hope for a vaccine. Yet there is hope for a cure, and it's right in front of us. We must power people with technology instead of allowing it to be leveraged by those at the top for greed and control. Technology can work for the people and for the greater good.

For years it has been clear the goal of the drive-for-hire business is to replace human drivers with autonomous vehicles. As many jobs are inevitably lost to technology, we must ask ourselves, who will benefit? Will it be only the few at the top? Would the greater population really want that outcome? Is that our idea of opportunity and freedom? Technological progress can provide more people with wealth, health and happiness or it can continue to fuel the legacy of the few at the expense of the masses. Now is the time to decide.


How can technology be run by the people?

Technology has proven it has the ability to operate outside the traditional motivations of capitalism. Two popular concepts; open-source software, and decentralized platforms both threaten the 1% who control the world with their monetary rule of governance, goods, and services.

Open-source is an ideology and practice that disrupts many traditional systems by making intellectual property shared and open for contribution and adaptation. What many people do not realize is that Microsoft and Apple owned software do not propel the majority of the computers in the world. Open-sourced Linux does. Linux is the foundation of the internet itself, running on servers across the globe to power the web that we use every day. Linux is also the base of Android phones and Chromebook, and the New York Stock Exchange. Even NASA uses it. Who are the open-source creators of Linux? “According to The Linux Foundation, since 2005, “some 14,000 individual developers from over 1,300 different companies have contributed to the kernel.” The core linux software is created by, maintained, and governed by no one entity for capital gain.

Decentralizing institutional systems empowers people, creating a modern democratic system of decision making. Yes it is 2020. We scan our faces with our phones every day but we seemingly do not have an efficient and trustworthy system for voting. Technology is ready, but the central governments are not. Central governments are bogged down by archaic procedures and the interests of those with money rather than the interests of the people. The same exists in the world of corporations. We have the technology for decisions to be made by and for the people, but instead they are made by central entities focussed on their monetary benefit. Hence, the history of unions providing networks for employees rights and interests. Putting the power in the hands of the people is a democratic ideal, and decentralizing our society’s systems with technology offers us the opportunity to return to the foundations of “governance by and for the people.” The third party in all transactions can be the technology itself; replacing the governments, corporations, or unions that all complicate and bloat our systems.

Decentralized open-source software and applications are the bedrock ideologies of blockchain and cryptocurrency, ala Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency is not just some speculative millennial anti-establishment idea, and major corporations and governments know this. The current value of cryptocurrencies stands at $350B and represents a range of new technologies that for the most part hope to connect people to technology without a 3rd party taking the cake. The most prominent recent example is the raging DeFi (decentralize finance) movement, with targets set on restoring faith in financial systems by putting the users in control.

For those who may not understand these concepts, or are scared by their headlines, other examples such as Wikipedia, also offer insights into ways technology can operate by community; outside the scope of traditional capitalism, and at scale. Each application has its own nuances and challenges, but that’s part of progressing into the future. Having the forethought to progress with the interest of the people is paramount at this stage of the game.


How can “rideshare” be decentralized?

Logistics of creating a real “ridesharing” platform, that cuts out the mafia-like corporation from the equation, takes significant thought and planning. A “rideshare v2.0,” has its own intricate problems to solve from payments, insurance, regulatory compliance, safety, and so-on. While there are many things to consider in “how rideshare can be decentralized” these are not reasons to neglect the concept. Many of these same hurdles Uber has and continues to face. It wasn’t long ago that the idea of being picked up by a stranger in a car by using an app was a ludicrous thought. One that seemed downright dangerous.

Uber has, over the past 7 years, optimized their business on the path to the still-undiscovered destination of profitability. Uber’s only goal now, having achieved their relatively mediocre IPO, is to make money for investors and drive their market capitalization up. Now, the bottom line is Uber’s primary focus, and automating the business is their primary method in doing so. They have already bypassed as many regulatory bodies as possible and leveraged their labor force to the brink.

The will of the people, through collaborative goals, planning, development, and optimization, can create a system that works far better for those using it. Compared to a corporation aiming to increase their profitability, a group focussed on it’s own system of benefits is inherently incentivized to optimize. It takes time, but we are talking about an enormous pool of people with talents and perspectives that share a common purpose.


What is “rideshare” without a company like Uber?

Passengers probably do not realize, and many drivers for that matter also do not get it, but Uber takes upwards of 50% of the fare that passengers pay. For what? Marketing, lawyers, shareholders (which has not worked out great so far), executives, customer service (laughable) and a relatively small general staff (which is being dwindled down). Are any of these a necessary part of the equation of sharing rides between a passenger and a driver using an app to connect? They really are not. Taking the lion's share of the transaction for a few executives, and Wall Street, is not in the interest of the millions of people using the system.

What Uber provides that society values are cheap rides at the touch of a button, and flexible “gig” work. A decentralized platform will only make the rides cheaper by cutting out the central entity (Uber). Passengers pay less and drivers make more. An open-source app can be tailored to meet drivers needs if it’s governed by those very drivers and the flexibility of the gig can continue to be the hallmark of the job. Regulations become less of an issue as the original loophole that allowed “rideshare” to flourish is re-focussed to the founding premise of an app that connects people to share rides.


Why does anyone start an open-source or decentralized platform?

There are many ways a concept like this can start. Ride Austin, a non-profit created to fill the void of Uber’s leaving Austin, has in the past year made their software open-source. Libretaxi has ventured into this realm of open-source ride hailing software but they have an obvious key fault - cash only payments. And anything named “taxi” carries the burden of a century of negative connotation.

Taking from Ride Austin, and Libretaxi, and even Uber itself, drivers can come together to realize that battling Uber or the state is a no-win game. The third party centralized systems are broken and only stand to amplify socio-economic inequality with technology. An alternative can be crowd-funded or started in someone’s basement. Multiple versions could come to fill this need and be sorted out by natural selection. If the core tenets of a platform that only benefits those actually sharing the ride can be realized it can be a socio-economic gamechanger and this is the opportunity to make it happen.


Now is the time

Uber and Lyft are showing their true colors as they threaten to abandon drivers and passengers for their bottom line. It is this very scary intersection of money and politics that corrupts our entire system and threatens the well being of all citizens. Now is the time to consider how we use technology to help people live better lives. This is our future. Ridesharing in its current form is like a plant undergoing tumultuous times and we can hope that stress will cause the production of new seeds that will germinate and flourish into an evolved “rideshare v2.0”, for the people. We must move towards systems that work for the people that use them.
 

Comments

Excellent read. I think this is a very plausible idea. The payment process would have to be done differently than how its currently done with Uber/Lyft, where all proceeds go straight to them, to be divvied up with pennies trickling down to the drivers.

Drivers using Square may be an option to keep profits in the driver's pockets.
 
I'd be curious if people would have faith in a physical service if there is 'nobody to sue' if something goes catastrophic.

There is a big difference between 'hosting web traffic' in opensourced Linux, and physically getting into a car with nobody responsible. It may very well be that the autonomous vehicle (which U/L so desparately pine for) would enable this in a far better way than a driver. An A.I. driving the car isn't got to 'scam' / long-haul / sexually assault / creep / shuffle / etc. I think there will be an open-source ridehail when A.V.'s are a thing.

For now, it's a chicekn-egg problem like Facebook and Twitter, and other social media. You need a certain size to entice people to give it a try and attract enough drivers. That is why these systems have in the past cost Billions to set up. However, lower cost rides with higher driver pay would be the key to unlock massive-adoption of a service like this.
 
I don't know...I know a lot of former Select drivers who built their own private customer service who originally were their pax. These drivers use Square readers and of course the pax are aware not having Uber to "protect them?" Laughs, because Uber is notorious for turning a blind eye to complaints from both pax and driver. Their GoTo solution is a few free ride credits and then no more response is heard from them until the pax takes it to the media.
 
I don't know...I know a lot of former Select drivers who built their own private customer service who originally were their pax. These drivers use Square readers and of course the pax are aware not having Uber to "protect them?" Laughs, because Uber is notorious for turning a blind eye to complaints from both pax and driver. Their GoTo solution is a few free ride credits and then no more response is heard from them until the pax takes it to the media.
For a premium "Select" service. I can see this. These are monied people who want to spend money. Uber was the golden child when they were a premium-service. Drivers were making money, pax were happy, Uber Was growing, and thus happy.

It was only when UBER went full into "X" service and "POOL" that everything went wrong, because people wanted the limo service at city-bus prices. Entitlement and scale killed Uber's Halo, and thus the race to the bottom began.
 
For a premium "Select" service. I can see this. These are monied people who want to spend money. Uber was the golden child when they were a premium-service. Drivers were making money, pax were happy, Uber Was growing, and thus happy.

It was only when UBER went full into "X" service and "POOL" that everything went wrong, because people wanted the limo service at city-bus prices. Entitlement and scale killed Uber's Halo, and thus the race to the bottom began.
True, for this to succeed, Pool cannot be an option. The X platform would have to be restructured. After all we would want a service that's available to the "working man" as well.

The Select drivers I know, have left the rideshare apps completely and built enough of a client base to work independently of U/L. At first it was "monied" people, but these drivers have worked out a way to do a "sliding scale" fee for their services. They built their client base up primarily from word of mouth as well as handing out business cards.
 
I'd be curious if people would have faith in a physical service if there is 'nobody to sue' if something goes catastrophic.

There is a big difference between 'hosting web traffic' in opensourced Linux, and physically getting into a car with nobody responsible. It may very well be that the autonomous vehicle (which U/L so desparately pine for) would enable this in a far better way than a driver. An A.I. driving the car isn't got to 'scam' / long-haul / sexually assault / creep / shuffle / etc. I think there will be an open-source ridehail when A.V.'s are a thing.

For now, it's a chicekn-egg problem like Facebook and Twitter, and other social media. You need a certain size to entice people to give it a try and attract enough drivers. That is why these systems have in the past cost Billions to set up. However, lower cost rides with higher driver pay would be the key to unlock massive-adoption of a service like this.
Most companies try to protect their brand to the fullest. That is why instead of flooding the market with as many drivers as possible, making it easy for anyone to qualify and drive including scam leases and car rentals, Uber/Lyft should of treated their 5 star drivers like gold. That is the key to success. Loyalty.

All the tools were their to establish a reputable brand with safety and customer service as a top priority. Ratings should have been used for their true intentions. Bad drivers removed from the platform. Bad passengers removed from the platform. They chose to give passengers a free pass but pressure drivers to take abuse or risk deactivation. It is a privilege to use the Uber/Lyft platform not something people are entitled to. They truly screwed up everything.
 
Wow, there's lots to unpack here. In your article you touch on rideshare 2.0 after Uberlyft, autonomous vehicles, income inequality, open source software, decentralised computing, the democratic system of government, unions, and crowdfunding! Lots of buzzwords, but without anything that coherently ties them together or offers any insight, unfortunately. In order to tackle this meandering and unfocussed haze of ideas, I'll leave out referencing everything that is not related to technology and rideshare.

You ask, "how can technology be run by the people?". This is impossible to answer given that it is undefined what "technology being run by the people" actually means. If you mean that people should have access to technology then, well... that is already true. I have a laptop, I have a copy of Windows on it, and I have a copy of Linux on it. Anyone can have this, and they have had access to it for at least the last 20 years.

You go on to say that open source software threatens "the 1% who control the world with their monetary rule of governance, goods, and services". However, open source vs proprietary software is not a factor in determining who owns wealth or production. Software is simply a tool; a means of building systems, nothing more. The type of tool used does not affect the behaviour of the tool user, or the environment in which he operates. For example, a carpenter can either use a plane or he can use a file in building a cabinet. His choice of which tool to use will not affect what he builds, whom he sells to, the prices he charges, his competitors, the market or any other element outside the very specific ambit of the method he uses to build the cabinet. For the users of software tools who use them to build technology and automation solutions, the same is true - the only difference between using proprietary vs open source is having to pay for it vs not having to pay.

Your claim that open source software threatens "the 1% who control the world with their monetary rule of governance, goods, and services" is incorrect. A society-owned collective organisation using open source software isn't going to threaten a company that uses proprietary software because and only because it uses open source software. You confuse open source with decentralisation. Again, open source refers to the tool used to build it; decentralised refers to how and where you build it, and who owns it.

Next you ask, "How can rideshare be decentralised?" You say, "the will of the people, through collaborative goals, planning, development, and optimization, can create a system that works far better for those using it". That's all well and good, but how? The question you asked was how to do this, and your answer just says that it can be done. Great! How? Who will create it? How will they build it? Who will pay for it? How will it work? You then say, "it takes time, but we are talking about an enormous pool of people with talents and perspectives that share a common purpose". Again, sorry, but this is just fluff. It is like a politicians non-answer. You leave your question, "How can rideshare be decentralised?" totally unanswered.

Your next question is, "What is rideshare without a company like Uber?". Again, the answer you provide is very hazy. Again, you allude to some kind of cooperative not owned by Uber, in which "a decentralized platform will only make the rides cheaper by cutting out the central entity (Uber).", "passengers pay less and drivers make more", and "an open-source app can be tailored to meet drivers needs if it’s governed by those very drivers". Again, lots of buzzwords and fluff but no explanation of the ownership structure of the organisation, how customer pricing would work, who builds the system, who maintains it, how it would pay drivers (employee or IC), how insurance would work etc etc etc.

Next you ask, "Why does anyone start an open sourced or decentralised platform?" You then say that such an organisation could be started in someone's basement or by crowdfunding. This shows a lack of appreciation of the costs involved in starting this kind of business. Tryp believed that it could start a rideshare business on a shoestring. Its executives even went on record saying they believed that they could start in new cities "with just one driver". Needless to say, Tryp was a failure to launch.

In your "Now is the time" section, yet more fluff is to be found. "We can hope that stress will cause the production of new seeds that will germinate and flourish into an evolved “rideshare v2.0”, for the people. We must move towards systems that work for the people that use them". That would be good. But again, no details are given. As above, you leave your original title of "What comes after Uber and Lyft" totally unanswered.

It's not my intention to do a hatchet job on your article. But if you're going to write an article that purports to answer questions... answer the questions.
 
entire deal with RS 2.0, kinda for full time drivers only and that's due to the climb of commercial insurance. That hill too steep for me. It would force me to work way way too many hours just to break even; no thanks. If Uber goes offline for whatever period of time that is that. I do have HopSkipDrive, but that depends on face to face learning and that ain't happening in Calif, for the like 90% of the students. Oh well.
 
1. The return of SANITY and FAIRNESS in the transportation industry
2. Smaller better companies that will rise from the ashes of the corpses of these 2 malignant leviathan monopolies. And will fiercely compete with each other. Thereby giving drivers and pax alike the best fares & rates
3. The end of all desperate, fake #WOKE letters from Dara

Because too little, too late.

#DieLyfUberDie
 
Whatever form it takes, a lasting rideshare 2.0 will have to be self-sustaining. The billions of dollars of investor money made the rideshare industry balloon. Without those billions and now with AB5, I think rideshare would shrink heavily, both in terms of driver numbers and coverage area. It will be centred on the lucrative runs along the city-to-airport corridors and within the cities themselves. Getting a rideshare vehicle out in the suburbs will become difficult.

In short, rideshare 2.0 may look a lot like taxis.
 
View attachment 498325

Since Uber and Lyft are talking about leaving California we can take this moment to say "please do." As 2020 unravels, the roots of America's shortcomings expose the core issues that connect to the trunk of inequality. Technological progress since the industrial revolution has allowed resources to be aggregated exponentially more efficiently, but socio-economic inequality continues to fester like a virus with no hope for a vaccine. Yet there is hope for a cure, and it's right in front of us. We must power people with technology instead of allowing it to be leveraged by those at the top for greed and control. Technology can work for the people and for the greater good.

For years it has been clear the goal of the drive-for-hire business is to replace human drivers with autonomous vehicles. As many jobs are inevitably lost to technology, we must ask ourselves, who will benefit? Will it be only the few at the top? Would the greater population really want that outcome? Is that our idea of opportunity and freedom? Technological progress can provide more people with wealth, health and happiness or it can continue to fuel the legacy of the few at the expense of the masses. Now is the time to decide.


How can technology be run by the people?

Technology has proven it has the ability to operate outside the traditional motivations of capitalism. Two popular concepts; open-source software, and decentralized platforms both threaten the 1% who control the world with their monetary rule of governance, goods, and services.

Open-source is an ideology and practice that disrupts many traditional systems by making intellectual property shared and open for contribution and adaptation. What many people do not realize is that Microsoft and Apple owned software do not propel the majority of the computers in the world. Open-sourced Linux does. Linux is the foundation of the internet itself, running on servers across the globe to power the web that we use every day. Linux is also the base of Android phones and Chromebook, and the New York Stock Exchange. Even NASA uses it. Who are the open-source creators of Linux? “According to The Linux Foundation, since 2005, “some 14,000 individual developers from over 1,300 different companies have contributed to the kernel.” The core linux software is created by, maintained, and governed by no one entity for capital gain.

Decentralizing institutional systems empowers people, creating a modern democratic system of decision making. Yes it is 2020. We scan our faces with our phones every day but we seemingly do not have an efficient and trustworthy system for voting. Technology is ready, but the central governments are not. Central governments are bogged down by archaic procedures and the interests of those with money rather than the interests of the people. The same exists in the world of corporations. We have the technology for decisions to be made by and for the people, but instead they are made by central entities focussed on their monetary benefit. Hence, the history of unions providing networks for employees rights and interests. Putting the power in the hands of the people is a democratic ideal, and decentralizing our society’s systems with technology offers us the opportunity to return to the foundations of “governance by and for the people.” The third party in all transactions can be the technology itself; replacing the governments, corporations, or unions that all complicate and bloat our systems.

Decentralized open-source software and applications are the bedrock ideologies of blockchain and cryptocurrency, ala Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency is not just some speculative millennial anti-establishment idea, and major corporations and governments know this. The current value of cryptocurrencies stands at $350B and represents a range of new technologies that for the most part hope to connect people to technology without a 3rd party taking the cake. The most prominent recent example is the raging DeFi (decentralize finance) movement, with targets set on restoring faith in financial systems by putting the users in control.

For those who may not understand these concepts, or are scared by their headlines, other examples such as Wikipedia, also offer insights into ways technology can operate by community; outside the scope of traditional capitalism, and at scale. Each application has its own nuances and challenges, but that’s part of progressing into the future. Having the forethought to progress with the interest of the people is paramount at this stage of the game.


How can “rideshare” be decentralized?

Logistics of creating a real “ridesharing” platform, that cuts out the mafia-like corporation from the equation, takes significant thought and planning. A “rideshare v2.0,” has its own intricate problems to solve from payments, insurance, regulatory compliance, safety, and so-on. While there are many things to consider in “how rideshare can be decentralized” these are not reasons to neglect the concept. Many of these same hurdles Uber has and continues to face. It wasn’t long ago that the idea of being picked up by a stranger in a car by using an app was a ludicrous thought. One that seemed downright dangerous.

Uber has, over the past 7 years, optimized their business on the path to the still-undiscovered destination of profitability. Uber’s only goal now, having achieved their relatively mediocre IPO, is to make money for investors and drive their market capitalization up. Now, the bottom line is Uber’s primary focus, and automating the business is their primary method in doing so. They have already bypassed as many regulatory bodies as possible and leveraged their labor force to the brink.

The will of the people, through collaborative goals, planning, development, and optimization, can create a system that works far better for those using it. Compared to a corporation aiming to increase their profitability, a group focussed on it’s own system of benefits is inherently incentivized to optimize. It takes time, but we are talking about an enormous pool of people with talents and perspectives that share a common purpose.


What is “rideshare” without a company like Uber?

Passengers probably do not realize, and many drivers for that matter also do not get it, but Uber takes upwards of 50% of the fare that passengers pay. For what? Marketing, lawyers, shareholders (which has not worked out great so far), executives, customer service (laughable) and a relatively small general staff (which is being dwindled down). Are any of these a necessary part of the equation of sharing rides between a passenger and a driver using an app to connect? They really are not. Taking the lion's share of the transaction for a few executives, and Wall Street, is not in the interest of the millions of people using the system.

What Uber provides that society values are cheap rides at the touch of a button, and flexible “gig” work. A decentralized platform will only make the rides cheaper by cutting out the central entity (Uber). Passengers pay less and drivers make more. An open-source app can be tailored to meet drivers needs if it’s governed by those very drivers and the flexibility of the gig can continue to be the hallmark of the job. Regulations become less of an issue as the original loophole that allowed “rideshare” to flourish is re-focussed to the founding premise of an app that connects people to share rides.


Why does anyone start an open-source or decentralized platform?

There are many ways a concept like this can start. Ride Austin, a non-profit created to fill the void of Uber’s leaving Austin, has in the past year made their software open-source. Libretaxi has ventured into this realm of open-source ride hailing software but they have an obvious key fault - cash only payments. And anything named “taxi” carries the burden of a century of negative connotation.

Taking from Ride Austin, and Libretaxi, and even Uber itself, drivers can come together to realize that battling Uber or the state is a no-win game. The third party centralized systems are broken and only stand to amplify socio-economic inequality with technology. An alternative can be crowd-funded or started in someone’s basement. Multiple versions could come to fill this need and be sorted out by natural selection. If the core tenets of a platform that only benefits those actually sharing the ride can be realized it can be a socio-economic gamechanger and this is the opportunity to make it happen.


Now is the time

Uber and Lyft are showing their true colors as they threaten to abandon drivers and passengers for their bottom line. It is this very scary intersection of money and politics that corrupts our entire system and threatens the well being of all citizens. Now is the time to consider how we use technology to help people live better lives. This is our future. Ridesharing in its current form is like a plant undergoing tumultuous times and we can hope that stress will cause the production of new seeds that will germinate and flourish into an evolved “rideshare v2.0”, for the people. We must move towards systems that work for the people that use them.
I still miss Sidecar !
 
Thoughtful article. It's a shame that Ride Austin did not last long enough to see how sustainable that model is.

Just a slightly different take here, given that some above have well articulated the primary reaction to the notion of an app-for-the-people. In my experience most all (if not virtually all) systems corrupt over time. Governments, religion, corporations, etc. Need leads to fear. Fear leads to greed. Greed leads to corruption. Corruption leads to the dark side. You know.

There are likely examples of groups of evolved, high-minded people forming healthy, sustainable systems. But there is not yet enough of those folks to serve the needs of mass humanity at scale, albeit rideshare or any other system. The key is in the evolution of human consciousness. The more we humans can evolve past our perceived need for "stuff" the more systems in general will work. As we evolve, our problems -getting from Point A to Point B, or whatever- may naturally dissipate.

Some feel that C19 and its effects are helping to trigger a step-change in human consciousness. We will see. In the meantime, on a personal level we can choose to behave in as high-minded a fashion as we are capable. A rising tide floats all boats.
 
View attachment 498325

Since Uber and Lyft are talking about leaving California we can take this moment to say "please do." As 2020 unravels, the roots of America's shortcomings expose the core issues that connect to the trunk of inequality. Technological progress since the industrial revolution has allowed resources to be aggregated exponentially more efficiently, but socio-economic inequality continues to fester like a virus with no hope for a vaccine. Yet there is hope for a cure, and it's right in front of us. We must power people with technology instead of allowing it to be leveraged by those at the top for greed and control. Technology can work for the people and for the greater good.

For years it has been clear the goal of the drive-for-hire business is to replace human drivers with autonomous vehicles. As many jobs are inevitably lost to technology, we must ask ourselves, who will benefit? Will it be only the few at the top? Would the greater population really want that outcome? Is that our idea of opportunity and freedom? Technological progress can provide more people with wealth, health and happiness or it can continue to fuel the legacy of the few at the expense of the masses. Now is the time to decide.


How can technology be run by the people?

Technology has proven it has the ability to operate outside the traditional motivations of capitalism. Two popular concepts; open-source software, and decentralized platforms both threaten the 1% who control the world with their monetary rule of governance, goods, and services.

Open-source is an ideology and practice that disrupts many traditional systems by making intellectual property shared and open for contribution and adaptation. What many people do not realize is that Microsoft and Apple owned software do not propel the majority of the computers in the world. Open-sourced Linux does. Linux is the foundation of the internet itself, running on servers across the globe to power the web that we use every day. Linux is also the base of Android phones and Chromebook, and the New York Stock Exchange. Even NASA uses it. Who are the open-source creators of Linux? “According to The Linux Foundation, since 2005, “some 14,000 individual developers from over 1,300 different companies have contributed to the kernel.” The core linux software is created by, maintained, and governed by no one entity for capital gain.

Decentralizing institutional systems empowers people, creating a modern democratic system of decision making. Yes it is 2020. We scan our faces with our phones every day but we seemingly do not have an efficient and trustworthy system for voting. Technology is ready, but the central governments are not. Central governments are bogged down by archaic procedures and the interests of those with money rather than the interests of the people. The same exists in the world of corporations. We have the technology for decisions to be made by and for the people, but instead they are made by central entities focussed on their monetary benefit. Hence, the history of unions providing networks for employees rights and interests. Putting the power in the hands of the people is a democratic ideal, and decentralizing our society’s systems with technology offers us the opportunity to return to the foundations of “governance by and for the people.” The third party in all transactions can be the technology itself; replacing the governments, corporations, or unions that all complicate and bloat our systems.

Decentralized open-source software and applications are the bedrock ideologies of blockchain and cryptocurrency, ala Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency is not just some speculative millennial anti-establishment idea, and major corporations and governments know this. The current value of cryptocurrencies stands at $350B and represents a range of new technologies that for the most part hope to connect people to technology without a 3rd party taking the cake. The most prominent recent example is the raging DeFi (decentralize finance) movement, with targets set on restoring faith in financial systems by putting the users in control.

For those who may not understand these concepts, or are scared by their headlines, other examples such as Wikipedia, also offer insights into ways technology can operate by community; outside the scope of traditional capitalism, and at scale. Each application has its own nuances and challenges, but that’s part of progressing into the future. Having the forethought to progress with the interest of the people is paramount at this stage of the game.


How can “rideshare” be decentralized?

Logistics of creating a real “ridesharing” platform, that cuts out the mafia-like corporation from the equation, takes significant thought and planning. A “rideshare v2.0,” has its own intricate problems to solve from payments, insurance, regulatory compliance, safety, and so-on. While there are many things to consider in “how rideshare can be decentralized” these are not reasons to neglect the concept. Many of these same hurdles Uber has and continues to face. It wasn’t long ago that the idea of being picked up by a stranger in a car by using an app was a ludicrous thought. One that seemed downright dangerous.

Uber has, over the past 7 years, optimized their business on the path to the still-undiscovered destination of profitability. Uber’s only goal now, having achieved their relatively mediocre IPO, is to make money for investors and drive their market capitalization up. Now, the bottom line is Uber’s primary focus, and automating the business is their primary method in doing so. They have already bypassed as many regulatory bodies as possible and leveraged their labor force to the brink.

The will of the people, through collaborative goals, planning, development, and optimization, can create a system that works far better for those using it. Compared to a corporation aiming to increase their profitability, a group focussed on it’s own system of benefits is inherently incentivized to optimize. It takes time, but we are talking about an enormous pool of people with talents and perspectives that share a common purpose.


What is “rideshare” without a company like Uber?

Passengers probably do not realize, and many drivers for that matter also do not get it, but Uber takes upwards of 50% of the fare that passengers pay. For what? Marketing, lawyers, shareholders (which has not worked out great so far), executives, customer service (laughable) and a relatively small general staff (which is being dwindled down). Are any of these a necessary part of the equation of sharing rides between a passenger and a driver using an app to connect? They really are not. Taking the lion's share of the transaction for a few executives, and Wall Street, is not in the interest of the millions of people using the system.

What Uber provides that society values are cheap rides at the touch of a button, and flexible “gig” work. A decentralized platform will only make the rides cheaper by cutting out the central entity (Uber). Passengers pay less and drivers make more. An open-source app can be tailored to meet drivers needs if it’s governed by those very drivers and the flexibility of the gig can continue to be the hallmark of the job. Regulations become less of an issue as the original loophole that allowed “rideshare” to flourish is re-focussed to the founding premise of an app that connects people to share rides.


Why does anyone start an open-source or decentralized platform?

There are many ways a concept like this can start. Ride Austin, a non-profit created to fill the void of Uber’s leaving Austin, has in the past year made their software open-source. Libretaxi has ventured into this realm of open-source ride hailing software but they have an obvious key fault - cash only payments. And anything named “taxi” carries the burden of a century of negative connotation.

Taking from Ride Austin, and Libretaxi, and even Uber itself, drivers can come together to realize that battling Uber or the state is a no-win game. The third party centralized systems are broken and only stand to amplify socio-economic inequality with technology. An alternative can be crowd-funded or started in someone’s basement. Multiple versions could come to fill this need and be sorted out by natural selection. If the core tenets of a platform that only benefits those actually sharing the ride can be realized it can be a socio-economic gamechanger and this is the opportunity to make it happen.


Now is the time

Uber and Lyft are showing their true colors as they threaten to abandon drivers and passengers for their bottom line. It is this very scary intersection of money and politics that corrupts our entire system and threatens the well being of all citizens. Now is the time to consider how we use technology to help people live better lives. This is our future. Ridesharing in its current form is like a plant undergoing tumultuous times and we can hope that stress will cause the production of new seeds that will germinate and flourish into an evolved “rideshare v2.0”, for the people. We must move towards systems that work for the people that use them.
Cut out the
Screenshot_2020-08-15-11-27-13.png
Middle Man !
 
I had forgotten about open source software. An IT guy in my taxi once told me that for every software we pay for to do something for us, someone has written free software that can do the same job. Out of the goodness of their hearts, and to give the fingers to the 1%.
So the future is open source software driven independent drivers. Just have government regulated licences that include a good character component, properly policed. Then get the drivers to get together in groups for common marketing, fare pricing, and disciplinary issues. Then introduce telephone despatching as well for the vast majority of taxi customers who don't use an app.
But wait. Our town already has that. Plus we have our own petrol, diesel, and EV technicians. Our own upholsterers and tyre shop. We have negotiated ridiculous discounts off the fuel companies. We have been going since the 1970s.
We are all in Uber as well so that with 30 cabs out on shift, any real Uber out only gets 1/31 of the Uber work and the few out never last. we are working on simultaneous signing out at regular intervals to bring on surge pricing. People stupid enough to use Uber deserve this. We then give them our business cards and our app, with the info on the price if they had used us initially.
So now we wait, doing perfectly okay until Uber runs out of suckers to finance them, and then carry on. That's capitalism, folks!
 
So the future is open source software driven independent drivers.
drivers to get together in groups for common
Your town is a fine example of a decentralized unit, with you drivers working in harmony already.

The open source part would connect your crew with the crew in other towns under one database for easy use by public.

Both the decentralized unit and the open source mainframe can be operated under a cooperative model.

I like your town.✌

 
So the future is open source software driven independent drivers.
No. The article writer does not have a good grasp of what either open source software or decentralisation are.

Uber is not software that can either be open source or not. Open source software projects are discrete pieces of software that do one specific task or group of tasks. The Linux operating system, for example, is only an operating system. It is not a database or a programming language. MySQL is an open source database, and it stores data. A ridesharing organisation is not software - it is an organisation comprised of many different functional areas that use many, many different software applications and architectures. There are real-time transactional and back end systems. There are driver, passenger and rides databases. There are payment systems, mapping systems, ride allocation systems and customer service systems. Then there are the driver and pax apps for both Android and Ios.

The majority of software that Uber uses is open source. A community-based rideshare organisation would have access to the same free, open source software tools that Uber uses - MySQL, Riak and Apache Cassandra databases. Python, Node.js and Java for building transactional engines, and the Linux operating system. However, these are simply the tools with which to build all of the required systems mentioned above. It's like trying to build a house with free tools that someone gave you. So you've got the tools. Great, you still have to build the house.

Yes, there are developers interested in contributing to open source projects, but what would their motivation be to work on an open-source rideshare project? As an ex-software developer, I would not give my time for free to work on such a project, and I can't see many developers wanting to. There are many reasons why people contribute their efforts to open source, but I don't see any compelling ones here. Also, who would coordinate the project? Who would pay for it? Even if developers give their time for free, there are still infrastructure costs / cloud hosting costs, and hardware costs.

Finally, the systems side of the organisation is only one part of the organisation. Who would write the business plan and obtain funding? Who would set up and run the organisation's marketing? The service may be great but if nobody knows about it then it's not going to go anywhere. Who's going to set up and run customer service? Accounting and finance? Legal? Operations? IT? Insurance? All of these functions are required for the organisation to operate. Who is going to pay for this? If I go to 1000 drivers and ask them for money to set up a company that they will have no ownership of, how much money are they likely to gift me?

And no, a rideshare organisation can't be decentralised, because it is not software. A rideshare organisation is a complex system comprised of many interdependent components including disparate IT systems and functional areas run by humans. The reason that Bitcoin and Defi can be decentralised is because they are automated software systems. The day will surely come when entire organisations can be replaced by autonomous artificial intelligence, but that day is still far in the future.

Setting up all the systems required in addition to all of the business functions necessary for a rideshare organisation is a huge undertaking and a huge amount of work. Are we are saying that rideshare drivers are going to plan, fund and execute all of this? Seriously? A kum bay ya community-based organisation to provide work and rides for all and to "stick it to the man" sounds wonderful, but landing back down in the real world, it's neither practical nor probable.
 
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