Gibson Was Right

The future is not evenly distributed. “Disruptive” technology leaves the most vulnerable behind, sometimes literally.

For all the ways our bold future world repeats and enables discrimination against the poor, the disabled, and all others that don’t fit the “standard test model”.

OP note: I didn’t think that I needed to remind BBers that Gibson noted “The future is already here it’s just not evenly distributed.” This isn’t about how we’re all going to suffer in the future, it’s about highlighting the “discrimination against the poor, the disabled, and all others that don’t fit the “standard test model”” caused by the shiny toys we have now.


This is a prominent Twitter activist in the disability community.

Uber, of course, will hide behind their stance that drivers are contractors. They will deny liability for their drivers’ illegal activity. People wonder why I haven’t been pushing for Uber approval where I live… they accuse me of ableism because I don’t need the service. The truth is Uber itself is ableist. I want a system that is regulated, where when drivers are found to be violating the law, the companies are responsible for that behavior. In fact, Uber’s cited reasons for being reluctant to move into this market? Too many rules. Fuck no. I don’t want to dismantle a system of protection so an SV fucker can pocket another billion.

But 4x in one week is fucking well a pattern. People report in the comments how fucking common this is.


There is good news.

Rideshare companies are unsustainable as long as they have to pay drivers.

It is looking like the days of fully automated cars are so far away that rideshare companies will be dead and buried sooner or later, their investors realizing that the big payday isn’t coming.

Uber lost 1.8 billion dollars in 2018; lyft lost 900 million.


How is that good news when they’ve driven so many alternatives out of business? Is something magically going to appear in their place to help disabled people get around? How is making things even worse a good thing?


Those alternatives will come back, once there is a vacuum in the market. That is the good news, sorry if I didn’t spell it out.

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I can’t find the article, but there was a British MP who had it happen to them. They talked about it in parliament, so it will be in Hansard somewhere.


So, people just need to suck it up during that vacuum and drive those imaginary cars they don’t have until service is rebuilt? Okay.


I didn’t say it was all good news…

I don’t know. I only pointed out that the bad guys in this scenario are likely going to go away. I am not sure what else I am supposed to say here.

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Governments were supposed to be the check and balance against uneven distribution of suffering. And indeed, in jurisdictions that require it, UberWAV exists to ensure there are wheelchair-accessible vehicles out there. The thing is, in most of these jurisdictions, there already is a regulated disability access service. So, this doesn’t fix the discrimination elsewhere.

Transparent, empowered, accountable government is probably the only way to fix this issue on a worldwide scale, and I frankly don’t see us getting any closer to that anytime soon. :frowning:


A thread on the most common “solution” offered up:

Available and accountable are problems many of us don’t even think about. The problem with discrimination is that it’s usually intersectional. To live somewhere with accessible transit usually requires $. Disabled people, especially under US-style healthcare tend to lack in money, even those with good-paying jobs, thanks to huge, extra expenses the rest of us don’t think about.

But the “permanent contractor” business model that Uber and Lyft use means it’s hard to hold the company accountable for violations of the law (like the ADA). Lack of money means it’s harder to sue. Retaliatory action (like drivers rating a disabled person as a “one star” after the driver refuses service) create an environment where a discriminated against person may be reluctant to complain, for fear of losing the meager crumbs they have.


And the saga continues:


Mod Note: Community topics like these we tend to leave to the original poster to indicate what is “on-topic”. If it isn’t clear, it’s not a topic about Uber, but a topic about the concept of inequal suffering and how technology is perpetuating that situation, not helping it.

@MalevolentPixy will correct me if I have that wrong. :wink:


This is exactly correct. Uber is the example for this story, but there are plenty others out there where our move to “advance” is leaving marginalized or otherwise discriminated against people behind.


What about cochlear implants for deaf people? The heated debates they have stirred up within the deaf community have sounded very much like a Gibson story line to me. But are they an example of an unevenly distributed future?

“ The newest wheelchairs can go upstairs, curbs, go through gravel and even elevate to reach things on a higher level. For this type of chair you are looking at a starting price of around $21,000. The average power wheelchair will cost around $12,000.”


Now take into account maintenance, renos to support use of the chair, increased costs in transpo. If you’re in one, it’s for a reason, so med costs, therapy costs, housekeeping costs… even here in the land of socialized medicine, most of those are out of pocket.

Plus a lot of the “improvements” to things like mobility devices are made by people who haven’t consulted with actual disabled people, but are imposing a “solution” on them that may not actually be a solution. How stable and robust is that stair climber, versus installation of community useable assistance, like ramps, cut-outs and elevators?


Inclusive design helps everyone. And is cheaper in the long term.

And everyone of us will have a disability at some point in our lives. Even if it’s only temporary. Just getting older makes things more difficult.


Good on New York. The move to cashless leaves out anybody who can’t get a bank account. It’s touted as the way of the future (see Amazon stores) but it’s not a good idea.




If you’re poor, you can’t afford to work.

Because Shipt classifies its workers as contractors, not employees, workers pay for all of their expenses—including gas, wear and tear on their cars, and accidents—out of pocket. They say the tips on large orders from Target, sometimes with hundreds of items, can be meager.

Workers say Shipt customers often live in gated and upscale communities and that the app encourages workers to tack on gifts like thank you cards, hot cocoa, flowers, and balloons onto orders (paid for out of their own pocket) and to offer to walk customer’s dogs and take out their trash, as a courtesy. Shipt calls this kind of service “Bringing the Magic,” which can improve workers’ ratings from customers that factor into the algorithm that determines who gets offered the most lucrative orders.

Even the “poor people jobs” are leaving poor people behind.