Robots were never meant to be the friends of the common man. Robots were meant to be the ultra-capitalistic tools of future factories.
And when robots – even remote-controlled robots – have an opportunity to make your life suck, some sociopathic capitalist is going to make sure that those robots seize that opportunity. Even if he can only do it as a marketing stunt.
Phil K. Dick warned us about how this would shake out:
The current generation of robot trolls as not as intelligent as the door in UBIK, but they are being commanded by people who enjoy endangering traffic safety by flying insulting ads close to the windshields of actual humans who can die if and when they get into car accidents.
Considering that these drones are electric, they probably had about 20 minutes of battery time. That means that at least three drone pilots took 20 minutes to disrupt traffic and endanger the lives of people trying to drive for a publicity stunt.
It could have been worse. They could have found drones with longer loiter times; they could have spent the whole day endangering people.
Cyberpunk is real, and has been real. And Uber is apparently run by a bunch of sociopaths who enjoy taunting potential customers. Why doesn’t someone use these flying nuisances for target practice? Mexicans have plenty of guns, which Spurdoburger government infiltrators sold to them.
Drivers stuck in traffic in Mexico City lately have found themselves being buzzed by a fleet of sign-toting drones. “Driving by yourself?” some scolded in Spanish. “This is why you can never see the volcanoes”—a reference to the smog that often hovers over the mega-city and obscures two nearby peaks.
It wasn’t exactly a plea for environmentalism, though—it was an ad for UberPOOL, part of Uber’s big push into markets across Latin America.
As Bloomberg points out, Uber already does more business in Mexico City than any other city it operates in, and Brazil is its third-largest market after the U.S. and India. Uber sees Latin American countries as generally easier targets for expansion than either of its top two markets.
In the wake of a costly war with Didi Chuxing in China that finally forced Uber to wave a white flag, the company is going back on the offensive. And that, apparently, involves accosting drivers in gridlock with a swarm of drones.
It has been widely noted that the people who run Uber appear to be evil.
This guy, for example, called them out on advertising that indicated Uber wanted to kill subways.
Uber took down the advertising and the guy noted it:
Uber has been decried as a scam that tricks the drivers into taking most of the risk so that the owners can skim the profits off the top. But it works because a lot of people are desperate enough to try driving for it.