Friday, January 30, 2015

Is the current freelance/sharing economy tenable considering human dignity?

A post on On-Demand Workers: ‘We Are Not Robots’, subtitled, Is Technology Liberating or Squeezing the New Class of Freelance Labor?

My personal experience with Uber has been pleasant, albeit troubling. We recently visited friends in California, and the male partner touted how it was great, that he knew of a driver who could piece together work, and could work whenever he wanted to for some extra cash, but I met a driver like this. He had a masters degree in computer science (CS) from a US university, but as an immigrant could not find a sponsor; he had not worked in CS for several years. His primary job was as a dispatcher for the shipping industry, but also had small side jobs picking up mail for non-resident Chinese homeowners who lived elsewhere, and as an Uber driver. 
Although my friend painted this situation as freedom, it sounded a bit more like desperation...
A poster responded, in typical WSJ reader fashion, that he made his own choices, to which my response was:
@Karen Kelly Sandke, yours is the typical right-wing attitude, that we are all free agents, but most people are not free, and most people, from the middle class on down continue to be impoverished by policies that disenfranchise them. This is no different. 
As for feeling sorry, I don't imagine you feel much sympathy or empathy in general, but that is not the point, it is the lack of overall humanity and dignity for people.

A Journey — if You Dare — Into the Minds of Silicon Valley Programmers

My responses in a NY Times comment section for the book, Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson ...