Data Darwinism: reactions & reflections



When I was writing Uber, Data Darwinism and the future of work, I was essentially penning what had been on my mind for awhile, though a series of news events helped coalesce the arguments and the narrative. But at no point when flying from San Francisco to New York did I realize that it would strike a chord with so many people. Many of you wrote publicly, a few hundred of you responded via tweets or retweets. Others wrote private notes. Many agreed with my thesis, but some disagreed.

Nevertheless, what amazed me was that there was such amazing conversation about the topic on the web. In a way, this is what blogging was and is always about — discussion. I am aggregating a few responses just to highlight what people were thinking.

Ariel Seidman, founder of Gigwalk, pointed out that not all data is created equal.

 As an Uber driver optimizing to maintain a 5-star rating, which job would you rather do? Drive four drunk and angry customers to a club at 1 a.m., or drive a kind and generous venture capitalist from downtown Palo Alto to Sand Hill Road at 2 p.m.? Uber has no idea that your customers were drunk and nasty. All they know is that you got a 1-star rating.

Nick Brisbourne drew the parallels between the dilemmas faced by the workforce and the privacy debates:

The same point can be made about the current battle raging between privacy advocates and big online advertising companies like Google and Facebook. As a society we need to figure out what constitutes acceptable practice for the harvesting and use of personal data for advertising purposes. In both these debates there is much to be gained from getting it right and much to lost by getting it wrong.

My favorite response came from Fred Wilson, who is co-founder of big-time venture capital firm Union Square Ventures. He writes on his blog:

This redrawing of societal expectations is likely to be the political battle of our time. Om goes on to talk about this in the context of the labor issues that Uber is having in San Francisco. That is a good example of what happens when networks and the data they produce reshape a market that has been operating in a traditional framework. We are at the start of this battle between incumbents, be they black car drivers or cable companies or government itself, and the network-driven upstarts. And we have many of those upstarts in our portfolio.

P.S.: If you don’t have time to read the article, here is a tl:dr version of it. Damn, this is one useful service.


Stanislas Marion

Thanks for the mention of Om! Glad you found it useful. I’d be very happy to show you how even more useful it can be. Stan, cofounder and ceo


Just for good measure I will repeat myself.
Everybody is asking for context, but only a few build context driven system. The rest just processes dumb data faster.

Om, you look a little different in that photo below the post :-)

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