In a strange, and somewhat sacrilegious turn of events, human history will likely need to examine my generation as the generation on the split between B.I. and A.I.
And no, not artificial intelligence, rather, “after the internet”. The amount to which this communication tool already impacts our lives is tremendous, with people having to print or handwrite letters and send them with postage through the mail just three decades ago. Remember the first time you saw someone use a Nextel telephone direct-connect? That was unbelievable to us, and that was only 15 years ago. Kids born the same year as that technology are only now getting busted smoking J’s out back in the garden.
That chirping sound still gives me nightmares about my days in the even catering industry.
Now, just a mere adolescence removed from that nonsense, and we are nearly fully integrated into the web now. We use Facebook to sign into just about every other site we use. Our data is being mined by these unregulated entities who’ve moved beyond the arms of the law, and we get only addicting entertainment in return.
Can you imagine that, in 2002, you told someone that you just used your Nextel to “chirp” a stranger, who would then pick you in up in their car, drive you anywhere you want, and the money would all be exchanged on your telephones? The next several years of family invitations will get lost in the mail.
Yet that is precisely what we do on a regular basis with services such as Lyft and Uber, despite just how sketchy those services can be.
But, finally, after unrelenting pressure from the consumer base and common sense enthusiasts everywhere, Uber will be implementing a policy that many riders surely believed was already in place: Criminal background checks.
Uber will start doing annual criminal background checks on U.S. drivers and hire a company that constantly monitors criminal arrests as it tries to do a better job of keeping riders safe.
The move announced Thursday is one of several actions taken by the ride-hailing company under new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who said that the changes aren’t just being done to polish the company’s image, which has been tarnished by driver misbehavior and a long string of other embarrassing failings.
“The first thing that we want to do is really change Uber’s substance, and the image may follow,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The announcements that we’re making are just a step along the way of making Uber fundamentally safer for drivers and riders.”
Other safety features include buttons in the Uber app that allow riders to call 911 in an emergency, as well as app refinements that make it easier for riders to share their whereabouts with friends or loved ones.
Uber maintains that their previous background check protocol was adequate at the time of its installation, but with company now doing approximately 15 million rides per day, the rapidly expanding business was hoping to stay out in front of any potential future issues.