I usually think “Game Theory” is bull, but here are some great real-world examples

The New York Times has an article about some of the ways Uber uses psychology (i.e. Game Theory) to “trick” it’s drivers. The subtext of this article is Uber is evil/cruel/privileged/disgusting (which at least as the top level it seems it is), but the strategies they use here are NO different than ANY company tries to do.

Regardless of your motives (which are usually more complex and faceted than this article implies) there are very clear business incentives to make your employees (and customers) happy. And there are lots of proven ways to do that.

As a result, much of Uber’s communication with drivers over the years has aimed at combating shortages by advising drivers to move to areas where they exist, or where they might arise. Uber encouraged its local managers to experiment with ways of achieving this.

The spin on this article is that Uber is bad for doing this, but if you’ve ever played a game (computer, iPhone, dead-tree paper cards, whatever) and gotten hooked it uses the same principals.

Worth 5 minutes to read through the entire article if this fascinates you…

And if you live in an area which has Lyft drivers instead of Uber (which I don’t) you should consider switching… because despite the fact that the tactics in this article aren’t in any way evil… it does sort of seem Uber is.