22 May 2017

Why a Turtle Should Not Carry a Scorpion Across the Nile*

Because stinging you to death is in its nature.

Case in point, the City of Pittsburgh's extensive efforts to suck up to Uber:
When Uber picked this former Rust Belt town as the inaugural city for its driverless car experiment, Pittsburgh played the consummate host.

“You can either put up red tape or roll out the red carpet,” Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh, said in September. “If you want to be a 21st-century laboratory for technology, you put out the carpet.”

Nine months later, Pittsburgh residents and officials say Uber has not lived up to its end of the bargain. Among Uber’s perceived transgressions: The company began charging for driverless rides that were initially pitched as free. It also withdrew support from Pittsburgh’s application for a $50 million federal grant to revamp transportation. And it has not created the jobs it proposed in a struggling neighborhood that houses its autonomous car testing track.

Blame is being pointed in many directions. While Mr. Peduto had trumpeted his relationship with Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, he didn’t get any commitments in writing about what the company would provide for Pittsburgh. That became an issue in Pittsburgh’s Democratic mayoral primary this month, with Mr. Peduto’s challengers criticizing his relationship with Uber and one calling the company a “stain” on the city. (Mr. Peduto won the primary.)

“This was an opportunity missed,” said Michael Lamb, Pittsburgh’s city controller, who has called on Uber to share the traffic data gathered by its autonomous vehicles.

The deteriorating relationship between Pittsburgh and Uber offers a cautionary tale, especially as other cities consider rolling out driverless car trials from Uber, Alphabet’s Waymo and others. Towns like Tempe, Ariz., have already emulated Pittsburgh and set themselves up as test areas for self-driving vehicles. Many municipalities see the experiments as an opportunity to remake their urban transportation systems and create a new tech economy.
There are two lessons here:  The first is that if you give public assets to a private business, there will be little if any long term goodwill generated in response, and thesecond lesson is that Uber in general, and Travis Kalanick in particular, are snakes, and they cannot be trusted.

*The folktale of the turtle and the scorpion. Just read it.


Anonymous said...

Rule #3
People are stupid when it comes to 'windfalls'.

People in kansaas bought it from sammy brownbutt..

People in America bought it from rump.

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