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Why Uber and Lyft Drivers Are Discriminating By Race

November 1, 2016, 3:35 PM UTC

It’s enough to drive you crazy.

A new study shows that drivers for ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft show preferential treatment to white men over women and African American passengers. My colleague, senior editor Kristen Bellstrom, is on the story:

The study, which was conducted in Boston and Seattle by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of Washington, found three notable trends: In Seattle, black people waited longer for Uber and Lyft drivers to accept their ride requests, and black riders waited up to 35% longer to be picked up by their UberX drivers. In Boston, Uber drivers cancelled on men with “African American sounding” names more than twice as often as on other men. Meanwhile, both ride-hailing companies took women in Boston for longer and more expensive rides than men.”

Click through to read her entire analysis.

The questions raised by studies like this, including the now famous one on the bias on the Airbnb platform, are being answered in similar ways – anti-discrimination pledges, platform design tweaks, empathy training. But at the core is an existential problem. Can technology begin to curb the human biases that society has been struggling with for generations? We’ll be putting that question to a diverse array of experts in the coming weeks.

Programming note: Fortune has launched Brainstorm Health, a must-read daily newsletter focusing on human health, big data, innovation and smart business. This afternoon, the inaugural Brainstorm Health Conference begins in San Diego and will be taking the conversation live. Follow the stream here.

On Point

New tech promises to prevent discrimination litigation before it happensA deep learning company called Intraspexion, Inc., claims they have developed a model which lets them uncover evidence of employee discrimination and alert in-house attorneys before expensive litigation happens. The model scans internal communications, such as emails, looking for risks that would signal problems. Another algorithm! What could go wrong?Kurzweil AI

Human resource experts aren't tapping big data
Three human resources professors from the UK are lamenting the sorry state of talent-related analytics currently being employed in corporate life. Organizations collect an extraordinary amount of data about their employees, yet don’t do very much with it. “Potentially, this could be used to make better data-driven decisions about HR and staffing strategy,” they say. Part of the problem is the analytics industry itself, which is focused more on data storage than performing any sort of strategic analysis. Are better leaders lurking in the numbers?
London School of Economics

Facebook users from all over the world “check in” to support the Standing Rock activists
Native Americans have been fighting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline for months, with little media coverage. Yesterday, in an apparent attempt to confuse police who were targeting protesters who used Facebook, people from all over the world began to “check in” to Standing Rock to telegraph their support for the cause. One of three Facebook pages for Standing Rock has nearly 300,000 check-ins.

Clinton campaign continues to court the minority vote
As the FBI investigation into new emails continues to roil the presidential race, the Clinton campaign is under pressure to make sure the black and brown voters who twice elected Obama will be coming out in force on Election Day. The Washington Post breaks down the numbers for those watching the horse race, but early voting stats show strong turnout from Latinx voters, but lower turnout from African American ones.
Washington Post

The University of Missouri welcomes a new president
It took the better part of a year to find Mun Y. Choi, most recently a provost at the University of Connecticut. Choi replaces Tim Wolfe, who resigned among a slew of student protests and a hunger strike, triggered by racist incidents on campus and in the community at large. Choi is a mechanical and aerospace engineer, known for his “evidence-based” approach to leadership, and the first academic to head Mizzou in a decade.
St. Louis Today

Cookie Monster was stabbed in a fight over a racist costume
A man dressed as Cookie Monster in New York’s Times Square district attempted to break up a fight between a man dressed as a pilot and a man dressed as a stereotype of a Native American. The pilot, who was portraying a Tuskegee Airman, set upon the other man, declaring the costume “racist.” He pulled a knife when Cookie Monster attempted to intervene. Cookie Monster was treated at a local ER and released. This is the last post about Halloween until next year, I promise.

AARP sues the Obama administration over intrusive wellness programs
The AARP, lobbying on behalf of older Americans, is suing the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that recent changes to rules governing employee wellness programs could force older workers to disclose sensitive health information to their employers. The changes allow employers to offer significant financial incentives to workers who participate in programs like weight reduction or smoking cessation; because some employees may be leery of sharing their health status, it unfairly eliminates them from the benefit. The rules go into effect next year.

The Woke Leader

Increase diversity on your corporate boards or lose your competitive advantage
Michael W. Peregrine, a partner at the law firm McDermott Will & Emery, has written an op-ed saying that increasing diversity on corporate boards is no longer up for discussion. He cites recent guidance from the Business Roundtable, an influential group of chief executives, which clearly made the business case for ethnic and gender diversity on boards. “By correlating diverse boards with greater board effectiveness and the promotion of long-term value creation, the association’s recommendation transcends public policy debates and moral imperatives,” he wrote.
New York Times

A new essay collection explores the politics of borders, drug trafficking, love and family
Last year, Adriana E. Ramírez won the inaugural PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize for her manuscript about the complex geopolitics of the three countries she calls her own: Colombia, Mexico, and the U.S. She turned that manuscript into her first Kindle single called Dead Boys, nine essays which she says is a series of interconnected essays/memoir/reportage on death, mothers, Colombia, Mexico, and the war on drugs. “Throughout, the ghost of her brother lingers, reminding us of the fragility of everything,” wrote the judges.
Amazon Kindle

A new exhibit celebrates Chinese culture through the stories of very different chefs
Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America is a new exhibit offering an immersive video experience of 33 Chinese and Asian American chefs, who are helping to define the experience of being Chinese in America through the evolution of food. Think of it as “an imaginary banquet in which featured guests represent diverse histories, cuisines, and geographic regions,” in search of a “food voice” that expresses more about identity than mere conversation might. At the Museum of Chinese in America through March 2017.


Our land is everything to us…I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember that our grandfathers paid for it – with their lives.
—John Wooden Legs