By Rita Liao
For China’s food delivery workers, life can feel like a constant battle with algorithms, traffic police, and disgruntled customers.
An essay detailing the hazardous work conditions of China’s food delivery drivers went viral on the internet on Tuesday, causing a moment of national reckonings on algorithmic harms to people.
In China’s populated urban hubs, one won’t miss the army of express couriers speeding and honking on their scooters. Their reckless driving, according to the investigative report from China’s People magazine, is largely a result of stringent algorithms that penalize late delivery; what’s more, the machines fail to fully factor in real-life variables like weather and traffic and often put drivers’ lives at risk. Within hours, the story had gained over 100,000 views and was shared widely and discussed on the WeChat messenger.
While food delivery platforms boast increasingly fast delivery thanks to state-of-the-art machine learning, the lofty goals the algorithms set for drivers are often attainable only by breaking traffic rules and working extended hours. Sitting indoors, customers tap on streamlined apps, detached from the dangerous delivery journey. To avoid bad reviews and wage cuts, drivers dash and honk pedestrians out of their way to be on time.
Within the first six months …read more
Source: Tech Crunch