Hot Docs Review: The Gig is Up (Shannon Walsh, 2021)

The Gig is Up

I still remember when I (and everyone else) first started using Uber. You would hop in, and because it was so new to everyone, you would always be like “So how long have you been doing this for? How is it? Is this what you do?” We asked those questions because we were legitimately interested. Uber and other rideshares were a disruptive industry that took advantage of a growing dissatisfaction with cab drivers. It was also one of the first industries where it seemed like people could go into business for themselves, determine their own hours and make money based on how hard they worked. It was our first insight into new tech gig economy.

The questions we didn’t bother asking during these initial rides were “Do you trust the company you work for?”, “What happens when the disruptive industry becomes the actual industry and the company takes advantage of this by driving down your profits” and also “What is it like to be managed by AI?”

These questions are some of the questions that Shannon Walsh looks at in this sobering documentary, which follows the journey of several gig economy workers ranging from Uber drivers to food delivery bikers to manual AI processors. The story is the same – things look awesome at first, but slowly unravel as big business starts doing their thing. I’m not sure this is a cautionary tale because if you have followed protests in the past, you know we’ve already reached a boiling point, but maybe next time you reach for your phone, it might give you a little more pause.

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.