Saturday, December 12, 2020

CURMUDGUCATION: Schools Are Still Not Like Ubers

CURMUDGUCATION: Schools Are Still Not Like Ubers
Schools Are Still Not Like Ubers

Betsy DeVos (who will soon not be a humble servant in the education secretary's office, but will instead be a very rich lady who wants to dismantle public education) likes to compare her vision of education to the same kind of disruption offered by outfits like Uber, a comparison that many folks like to make. I've written before about what a lousy comparison that is, focusing on problems like a business mentality and the problems of automation.

But here's a quick piece by techno-critic Cory Doctorow to remind us that Uber is, at the end, a terrible thing for anybody to want to emulate. Instead, he says, Uber was "a company that was never, ever going to be profitable, which existed solely to launder billions for the Saudi royals."

Doctorow connects Uber to a Saudi plan to diversify and capture monopolies in other sectors as a cushion against future downturns in the oil market. Their plan for Uber was, well...

The S1 – the document that explains how the company plans to be profitable – set two conditions for Uber's profitability.

First, all the public transit in the world had to shut down and be replaced by Uber.

Next, all the drivers had to be replaced by AIs.

Uber recently unloaded its self-driving car division, which, like most self-driving car initiatives, was getting nowhere. (Doctorow reminds us one of my favorite AI auto moments, when developers determined that AI cars would work great as soon as we controlled all human behavior around them.) As he points out, the unloading was not exactly a "sale," because they "invested" $400 mill in CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: Schools Are Still Not Like Ubers