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In-Depth Interview: Prof. Trebor Scholz Defines “Extraction” Model Used By Uber and Other Tech Disrupters

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As Uber fights sex harassment claims and lawsuit from Google, Prof. Trebor Scholz explains the predatory business model of the "gig economy", and its impact on the labor force.  He offers a vision for a positive model, based on the principles of co-ops.Uberworked and Underpaid: How Workers Are Disrupting the Digital Economy is the new book from Scholz, who is Associate Professor of Culture and Media at The New School.  He also wrote The Internet as Playground and Factory (2009), Digital Labor: Sweatshops, Picket Lines, Barricades (2014) and Platform Cooperativism: The Internet, Ownership, Democracy (2015).  Get more information on Scholz and his work here.

We begin with comments on sexual harassment claims recently brought by former Uber engineer Sarah Fowler Rigetti, details here. We touch on damage control efforts by Uber board member Arianna Huffington and former attorney general Eric Holder.

We also talk about today's lawsuit against Uber from Waymo, the division of Google that's working on autonomous cars, alleging that Uber stole intellectual property related to the guidance systems.

Scholz displays encyclopedic knowledge of the internet and web-based apps like Uber, Airbnb, Taskrabbit and also Amazon.  Along the way, he weaves in points about his co-op model, which is fairer to workers and the general population, and he highlights startups that are more conscious of the interests of workers and customers.  He indicts the tech disrupters who bend and break the law, hoping that consumer satisfaction will deregulate or reregulate in their favor.