Auditing Uber: Northeastern researchers test Uber’s ‘surge pricing’
BetaBoston - 10/29/2015
Christo Wilson admits there was something a little sketchy about going from drug store to drug store in downtown Boston last December, buying hundreds of dollars in prepaid Visa cards.
But Wilson, an assistant computer science professor at Northeastern University, wasn’t laundering money: He was buying the cards to create fake Uber accounts that he and his colleagues would use to probe the ride-hailing app for supply and demand data. They’ll be presenting their findings this Friday at the 2015 Internet Measurement Conference in Tokyo.
“Uber is a black box: They do not provide data about supply or demand, and prices are set dynamically by an opaque ‘surge pricing’ algorithm,” Wilson and his co-authors Le Chen and Alan Mislove wrote. “The lack of transparency has led to concerns about whether Uber artificially manipulate prices, and whether dynamic prices are fair to customers and drivers.”