In 2016, Douglas Rushkoff was invited to Uber’s headquarters (then in San Francisco) to talk about the failings of the digital economy and what could be done about it. He was suprised to find the audience supporting UBI, and wondered what to make of this.
Uber’s business plan, like that of so many other digital unicorns, is based on extracting all the value from the markets it enters. This ultimately means squeezing employees, customers, and suppliers alike in the name of continued growth. When people eventually become too poor to continue working as drivers or paying for rides, UBI supplies the required cash infusion for the business to keep operating.
The real purpose of digital capitalism is to extract value from the economy and deliver it to those at the top. If consumers find a way to retain some of that value for themselves, the thinking goes, you’re doing something wrong or “leaving money on the table.”
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