Algorithms at work in the gig economy

22 Sep

You might not know it, but most of our activities are managed and affected by algorithms at work. Both in our personal and business lives, we are exposed to daily management by computer programs. Which is quite a scary thought.

Today, Algorithms find you the right place to stay on Airbnb, they locate a nearby driver for your Uber trip, and they help you find products you are looking for in a Google search. They make it possible for health professionals to provide better care and services to patients. Algorithms are even used to hire and fire staff as well as provide quick and efficient online customer care.

What are Algorithms?

Algorithms are processes and rules that are followed in order to solve a problem. These problems are usually solved by computers.

Even with this knowledge in mind, it’s still a bit difficult to get a grasp on just how much algorithms are part of our lives. To bring about some clarity, let’s take a look at algorithms at work in our gig economy.

  • Amazon

Amazon’s fulfilment centre is abuzz with activity. Workers are fast-paced walking here and there, picking and scanning items for delivery. What’s keeping them so focused and on track? Algorithms are ensuring that they work speedily by timing them from one product scan to the next!

  • Food Delivery

All those UberEats deliveries you order are actually managed by algorithms. The algorithm matches you with a driver who is nearby and then interacts between the two of you. The algorithm decides which driver gets the job of collecting and delivering your meal. This means that drivers who aren’t always in prime locations often miss out on work opportunities.

  • Transport Services

If you use Uber, Bolt, or Taxify, your transport is also managed by an algorithm. The algorithm determines where you are and links you with the closest driver. The driver relies on the algorithm to send him work. Both of your lives are impacted by algorithms!

The Possible Downsides of Algorithms at work

While algorithms have sped up and streamlined processes for many businesses, they also come with their downsides. For instance, a person making contact with a company online may not be too enamoured with the cold yet polite responses of a computer answering questions.

Another fine example is the hiring process. Without human interaction, the potential employee may not feel particularly comfortable with the hiring process. When Uber and other transport system drivers find that they aren’t being delegated many pickups and their income is plummeting, there’s nothing they can really do about it as it’s all automated. That’s just the system.

Prepare for Algorithm Living Going Forward

We haven’t seen the end of algorithms managing our lives, services, and social encounters just yet, in fact, it would seem as if we still very much in the early days of a gig economy at this point. Futuristic movies show us what happens when we give machines too much control – it’s a risky business for sure, but it would seem that the modern world will be heading in this direction regardless.

If you want to ensure that you are along for the ride and that your business profits, it’s best to look into algorithms early on (now) and see how they can benefit your business too.

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