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Stuck in Analogue: Uber Makes (The) Knowledge Redundant

02 Jul 2014

My favourite taxi drivers in the world are the London taxi drivers. They are knowledgeable, polite, and experts on the London traffic grid and the capital's geo-location.

Compared to Sydney, Melbourne, NYC, or Hong Kong taxi drivers they are a delightful band (in the majority) that act as brand ambassadors for London in their iconic black cabs.

Yet, London's taxi drivers are stuck in analogue mode.

And technology is disrupting their knowledge - or rather the infamous The Knowledge - a gruelling 4 year exam testing their analogue skills and insights into London's geography, routes, and traffic eccentricities. The much-hyped and extremely user-friendly app Uber is changing the game by commoditising human knowledge.

And this places us, consumers into a pickle. Check out this video blog on the topic from Future Trendspots that I did a few months ago from Soho, NYC

Do we support some of the best taxi drivers in the world because we respect their commitment to The Knowledge of London and keep giving them our custom, or do we go with what is ostensibly an even greater customer service experience? One that provides a seamless payment experience (rather than being tied to Sterling cash), digital receipts (for easy expense reporting), transparency in pricing and routing (for constant improvement), and extreme convenience and digital traceability of optimum routing.

Despite my somewhat analogue heart I am guilty of being a dedicated fan of Uber.

With 221 global travel days in 2013 alone, Uber has served me well in places like San Diego, NYC, Stockholm, Sydney, Singapore, Melbourne, Manchester... and yes, London. 

This is of course extremely disruptive to taxi drivers and across Europe, taxi drivers have been protesting, asking for government regulation, and appealing to the consumers' analogue hearts for loyalty and intervention. I doubt they will get it. 

So what is going on here?

Uber Disrupting Taxi Drivers The Knowledge Swedish Futurist Manchester UK

*This photo was taken after my futurist keynote at the Chartered Institute of Housing in Manchester, June 27th

The inevitable occurred. GPS, wifi, geolocation, and smart phone technology have converged to replace what was once considered quite a useful skill - how to get from point A to point B. That skill is now being commoditised, and allowing a new digital entrant into the market.

The Knowledge may soon be considered The Commodity. 

What do you think?


  • Should we support professionals like the London taxi drivers in their efforts to retain marketshare?
  • Should we give them our custom because they, unlike new entrant UberX drivers and professional luxury drivers, have sat through a government prescribed test?
  • What do you believe is the future of human knowledge in an age where technology and artificial intelligence are emerging as enablers for new, and better services?
  • Should Taxi drivers, not just in the UK, but around the world update their technology and work with the digital technology instead of against it?
And fundamentally...
  • What is your industry's Uber, and how much your intellectual property or knowledge be commoditised by smart new digital entrants?

Engage in the Uber debate and let me know what you thinque.

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