Oh hi there fellow AI test subjects; sorry I'm late, I've been up to my nipples in client work. You know what they say: the house always wins (and my house is made of capitalism).
This week was sort of okay I guess 🤷♀️. Reasons:
- A gig worker platform makes a tiny change to it's algorithm and ruins lives
- We need to harness the power of brine so we can continue to mine lithium for our iPhones
- A Ring doorbell forces someone to move house; machine uprising to follow
🔋 Lithium: more than just a Nirvana song; it's a way of life
BMW have just invested a fuck-ton of money into extracting lithium out of the Earth faster. I think this is a good thing. I know we just started, but PAUSE!
Did I just say that a COMPANY investing MILLIONS OF DOLLARS into ANOTHER COMPANY to MINE PRECIOUS METALS is a good thing? Yes I did just say that, yes...
We need lithium faster because...
- It's is used to power those things you store your life and personality in (laptop, phone, etc.)
- It's also used for batteries in electric vehicles, which are those things we desperately need to switch to if we continue to insist that cars are the best way of getting around (they're not).
- I live on a main road and would like it to be quieter, please.
As the demand for EVs goes up, so does the demand for lithium. Apparently, we cannot get lithium out of the ground fast enough, which has capitalists projecting shortages left right and centre. I don't know about you, but as a consumer who has been coddled with abundance for her entire life, I am getting really tired of shortages.
The company that BMW have just invested in are called Lilac, and they can extract lithium in a faster, more sustainable way. Apparently, with current methods it can take two years to get lithium, and Lilac's way only takes two hours. They can also get the same amount of lithium from one acre of land, that traditional methods get from 10,000 acres. How? They do it with brine or something, idk.
🥟 My tiny little take: getting the resources we need to make good batteries will finally unstick us from our gruesome fossil-fuelled tar-pit of an existence. The other option is to mine asteroids, but I doubt that's going to happen any time soon.
🍔 Zomato: delivers food to your door, and also the delivery person's dignity, should you want it
This is a classic tale we've heard time and time again: powerful platform treats humans like robots, humans struggle to, uh, behave like robots... and get fired.
Zomato is a food delivery giant in India. Until recently, riders would operate in a roughly 10km radius. Without warning (because you don't have to warn a robot, do you?), that radius was expanded to 40km, making it impossible for them to reach their daily quotas — even if they work 24 hours straight.
Apparently, Zomato are testing out this new feature to see if it results in their riders getting higher earnings — don't hate them for doing this, it's just part of the agile methodology.
Anyway, while Zomato are busy iterating, their riders have to put up with:
- being charged way more than usual on their on-demand e-bikes (because they do not own their own bikes), due to increased distances.
- having cash, phones, and even their bikes, stolen from them when they make cash-on-delivery runs late at night
- a heavily gamified worker app that uses bullshit rankings like 'gold' and 'diamond'; you get penalised and boosted down if you even reject one delivery out of 100.
It's interesting how one tweak in the name of 'testing' can have such a huge effect on people's lives and general wellbeing. I find it hilarious how when building software, the technologist will always default to taking a considered approach where they test things to see what works best, but they do not apply these methods to literally anything else in the building process (e.g. the workers who hold up their business model).
🏚️ Neighbour so repulsed by Amazon Ring camera that they move house and sue
Good for them! Context: in a tiny, very isolated case in the UK, a woman realised her neighbour was using security cameras all around his house, and felt like it was an invasion of her privacy — and a judge agreed. These cameras could see the whole of her garden, and even recorded audio of her conversations. She actually moved house over it.
I've written extensively about how shitty Ring are before; they make at-home surveillance for racist white people, and routinely pass footage and other data over to the police force. They have a real community vibe, you know?
I doubt this one squabble in Oxfordshire will set any kind of precedent or make any difference to anything; sometimes I read stories like this and remember that of course a judge would say something like a Ring camera is unlawful — but they'd literally never heard of them until now.
Okay THAT'S THE END; I hope you enjoyed it this week, I wrote it all in one go while completely sleep deprived and bleeding from my vagina. Bye x