Cities for Change
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Digital Courage, Online Expo Part 1: Uber Eats
'Digital Courage' is an exploration of the influence of digital infrastructure and the platform economy on the city. What is the damage and how can it be different?
Datafication, algorithms and AI are shaping how we live, reside, and work - and profoundly affecting power relations in the city. The great promise of data leads to surveillance and 'collection frenzy', tech companies are incredibly powerful and dominate more and more services, algorithms are full of unprecedented consequences. Covid-19 has pushed digital transformation into an unprecedented acceleration and made the market even more powerful.
Through two concrete examples, meal delivery and primary education, Cities for Change, in collaboration with Sanne Stevens of the London School of Economics, will curate an online expo full of recognizable everyday tech frustrations, the disastrous consequences of platform logic and unsustainable tech industry greed. It needs to change.
Over the past few months, we've been looking for visionary projects that are digitally courageous and brave. Brave because they are trying to break the dominance of big tech. Brave because they are not afraid to tip the balance of power, cause friction and break thought patterns. And brave because they are replacing the hyper-individual user with a collective solidarity.
In this expo we go from what is now, to how things could be different. Inspiration for a different tech future, where digitization is not the seemingly moving train we're on, but a human-made and controlled process we can influence.
Part 1: Uber Eats, the desastrous consequences of the platform economy and what we can do differently
I remember when I first heard the name "Uber" come up, a long time ago. I thought it was a strange name and didn't have particularly good associations with it. What kind of company chooses a name like that - what kind of people are they? The name, now so ingrained that we hardly give it a second thought, turned out to be a sign of the times and an all too appropriate choice for the greed that the slick taxi app keeps displaying.
The scandals piled up in recent years. The company's meal delivery arm doesn't appear to be much better - under the guise of entrepreneurial innovation, whatever stands in the way of profit may be destroyed without scruple. The arrogant tech-entrepreneurs shrug about damage, rules apply to the others.
From the beginning, Uber has scandalized and ignored the governance of many cities, who barely knew what hit them. In doing so, it has become the epitome of the Silicon Valley predatory model. But what do we notice of it here, in the city? Part 1 of the online exhibition deals with these issues. On May 6th, we begin with a short online tour of the downsides of ordering convenience, and the possible alternatives. From exploited flex workers, increasing inequality and pressured restaurants, to inspiring examples of courier collectives and self-organized delivery platforms.
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