Wednesday, February 18, 2015

will your job be 'below the API'?



http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2015/02/04/google-cabs-and-uber-bots-will-challenge-jobs-below-the-api/

This article is a little bit thought-provoking. The thesis is that as more jobs become Uber-driver-like, mediated by applications (maybe with APIs)  and not middle-management, opportunities for advancement, training and other traditional corporate career benefits available to employees may diminish.

On the surface, seems like viable analysis. I think a reason for Uber's valuation is that investors envision that it will become a centralized provider of transportation and delivery services and will be in position to gather most of the profits of the space. Implicit in this is using market power to lower costs of inputs, like drivers, etc... (Not to mention, even, the driverless cars, oh my.)

But I think we won't see, necessarily anyway, a result featuring atomized individuals deprived of social career opportunities working for a mega-corp. One issue may be more with centralization than the software layer. Bitcoin's blockchain gets you to thinking that we are seeing the beginning of software infrastructure that allows more distributed, de-centralized solutions. Software development, probably open source, is the only step between an Uber dominating the industry and a mesh of drivers and riders using de-centralized software to arrange travel services among themselves. Not saying they will use bitcoin or its blockchain for this, but the blockchain is opening people's minds to decentralized solutions.

One can imagine people below the API will organize de-centrally, either to develop their own logistics infrastructure or perhaps at least to share ideas, plans, tricks, tips, and opportunities that would otherwise have been part of the traditional corporate culture we've seen in the last several decades.

The idea that software will dis-intermediate middle-management seems reasonably valid. If you are in a mega-corp, good if you're IT staff or dev or marketing maybe, less good if you're not. And great if you're providing capital. Maybe we're moving towards a more pure labor-capital split. Maybe.

Its going to be an interesting next decade. 

I better get back to coding now.

thanks to voiceobjects.com for the graphic

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