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Why 'Uberization' Of Our Economy Is Here To Stay

Uber still has plenty of critics in Argentina, but its clearing key legal hurdles is a sign that there's no turning back the clock on a digitally-driven marketplace.

The gig economy is taking over how we do business
The gig economy is taking over how we do business
Raúl Martinez Fazzalari


BUENOS AIRES — In a recent ruling, Argentina"s Supreme Court finally decided, for procedural purposes, to recognize contracts that individual parties make through the intermediary firm Uber as legally valid.

The decision comes amid growing public debate over these kinds of digital platforms and the services they provide. Uber and its ilk seek to match service providers with users through a third party that removes the administrative barriers, local regulations, tax and labor rules we've otherwise been accustomed to.

If we add to this the non-territorial nature of these firms, one can see how difficult it is to judge or penalize these firms, or even apply the rules as we know them. The phenomenon is not, however, new. Indeed, we can see this same disruptive blueprint in other big tech firms.


Uber-style services are beginning to dominate multiple markets — Photo: Serge Kutuzov

Facebook, the world's most important communication platform, owns no telecommunication infrastructures. The online retailer Alibaba owns no shops. Netflix, the online distributor of films and television series, holds no licenses. And the world's main search engine, Google, charges nothing for the information it finds. Something is changing in the world, and the costs and logistics of marketing are today dropping to practically nothing.

The consumer, in the meantime, can now access directly — and from anywhere — whatever he or she wants, and, so far, this has proved highly popular. The internet has permitted this access to information, entertainment or services, converting and simplifying atoms into bytes.

Just as with passenger transportation, new protagonists are also creating complex systems for product deliveries. They include, at the bottom end, the cyclists and motorcyclists we now see as part of the city landscape, remolding the reality of consumption and work. All of this means new jobs, use of communication technologies, more tax contributions and reduced costs.

The consumer, in the meantime, can now access directly — and from anywhere — whatever he or she wants.

One should recall that the debate on the legality of these services is comparable to the Supreme Court ruling of 2015, which exempted search engines of responsibility in their intermediary role in the search for content. Laws always follow facts on the ground, which makes sense. After all, we cannot anticipate norms for things that have yet to happen.

As for the transportation and taxi services, the realities we can all already see — the proliferation, namely, of two-wheeled delivery people — will inevitably lead to legal redefinitions for the emerging economic sector. It's just a matter of time.

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The Problem With Always Blaming Climate Change For Natural Disasters

Climate change is real, but a closer look at the science shows there are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters. It is important to raise awareness about the long-term impact of global warming, but there's a risk in overstating its role in the latest floods or fires.

People on foot, on bikes, motorcycles, scooters and cars navigate through a flooded street during the day time.

Karachi - People wade through flood water after heavy rain in a southern Pakistani city

Xinhua / ZUMA
Axel Bojanowski


BERLIN — In September, thousands of people lost their lives when dams collapsed during flooding in Libya. Engineers had warned that the dams were structurally unsound.

Two years ago, dozens died in floods in western Germany, a region that had experienced a number of similar floods in earlier centuries, where thousands of houses had been built on the natural floodplain.

Last year saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives during monsoon floods in Pakistan. Studies showed that the impact of flooding in the region was exacerbated by the proximity of human settlements, the outdated river management system, high poverty rates and political instability in Pakistan.

There are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters, but one dominates the headlines: climate change. That is because of so-called attribution studies, which are published very quickly after these disasters to highlight how human-caused climate change contributes to extreme weather events. After the flooding in Libya, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described climate change as a “serial offender," while the Tageszeitung wrote that “the climate crisis has exacerbated the extreme rainfall."

The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) has once again achieved its aim of using “real-time analysis” to draw attention to the issue: on its website, the institute says its goal is to “analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events." Frederike Otto, who works on attribution studies for the WWA, says these reports help to underscore the urgent need for climate action. They transform climate change from an “abstract threat into a concrete one."

In the immediate aftermath of a weather-related disaster, teams of researchers rush to put together attribution studies – “so that they are ready within the same news cycle," as the New York Times reported. However, these attribution studies do not meet normal scientific standards, as they are published without going through the peer-review process that would be undertaken before publication in a specialist scientific journal. And that creates problems.

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