Your Name May Influence How Long You Wait for an Uber or Lyft, MIT Study Finds
A recent study has found "significant evidence of racial discrimination" in ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft. If you’re black, you may be more likely to find your ride canceled or be subjected to longer wait times.
A recent study has found "significant evidence of racial discrimination" in ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft. If you’re black, you may be more likely to find your Uber ride canceled or be subjected to 30% longer wait times on both services.
The study by MIT looked at over 1,400 cases in Seattle and Boston where they found users with "African American sounding names" were more likely to face discrimination compared to those with more “white sounding” names. Users who looked black, also faced discrimination.
In order to understand how to get rid of discrimination, it’s important to understand how these apps work. When a person “hails” a ride from the Uber or Lyft app, the driver learns your name and what you look like at different stages. For Uber drivers, they learn this information only after accepting your request, which means they have to cancel the ride if they want to pass on a fare. On Lyft, drivers can see a user’s name and face before accepting a request.
With Uber, researchers found African Americans faced higher cancellations rates than on Lyft. But it’s uncertain if the difference in when a potential passenger’s name and photo were revealed to a driver had an influence.
Both Uber and Lyft have chimed in on the study, saying they do not condone racial discrimination.
Rachel Holt, head of North American operations for Uber, said in a statement: "Discrimination has no place in society, and no place on Uber.”
"We believe Uber is helping reduce transportation inequities across the board, but studies like this one are helpful in thinking about how we can do even more."
It's been thought that Uber and Lyft could be the solution to traditional cabs, but it seems there's still a ways to go. Uber has eliminated other biases based on destination by not revealing this information to its drivers. A potential solution to this issue might be best to nix names and photos altogether on rider accounts.
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Great ideas in philosophy often come in dense packages. Then there is where the work of Marcus Aurelius.
- Meditations is a collection of the philosophical ideas of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
- Written as a series of notes to himself, the book is much more readable than the dry philosophy most people are used to.
- The advice he gave to himself 2,000 years ago is increasingly applicable in our hectic, stressed-out lives.
Can dirt help us fight off stress? Groundbreaking new research shows how.
- New research identifies a bacterium that helps block anxiety.
- Scientists say this can lead to drugs for first responders and soldiers, preventing PTSD and other mental issues.
- The finding builds on the hygiene hypothesis, first proposed in 1989.
Are modern societies trying too hard to be clean, at the detriment to public health? Scientists discovered that a microorganism living in dirt can actually be good for us, potentially helping the body to fight off stress. Harnessing its powers can lead to a "stress vaccine".
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that the fatty 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid from the soil-residing bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae aids immune cells in blocking pathways that increase inflammation and the ability to combat stress.
The study's senior author and Integrative Physiology Professor Christopher Lowry described this fat as "one of the main ingredients" in the "special sauce" that causes the beneficial effects of the bacterium.
The finding goes hand in hand with the "hygiene hypothesis," initially proposed in 1989 by the British scientist David Strachan. He maintained that our generally sterile modern world prevents children from being exposed to certain microorganisms, resulting in compromised immune systems and greater incidences of asthma and allergies.
Contemporary research fine-tuned the hypothesis, finding that not interacting with so-called "old friends" or helpful microbes in the soil and the environment, rather than the ones that cause illnesses, is what's detrimental. In particular, our mental health could be at stake.
"The idea is that as humans have moved away from farms and an agricultural or hunter-gatherer existence into cities, we have lost contact with organisms that served to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation," explained Lowry. "That has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders."
University of Colorado Boulder
This is not the first study on the subject from Lowry, who published previous work showing the connection between being exposed to healthy bacteria and mental health. He found that being raised with animals and dust in a rural environment helps children develop more stress-proof immune systems. Such kids were also likely to be less at risk for mental illnesses than people living in the city without pets.
Lowry's other work also pointed out that the soil-based bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae acts like an antidepressant when injected into rodents. It alters their behavior and has lasting anti-inflammatory effects on the brain, according to the press release from the University of Colorado Boulder. Prolonged inflammation can lead to such stress-related disorders as PTSD.
The new study from Lowry and his team identified why that worked by pinpointing the specific fatty acid responsible. They showed that when the 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid gets into cells, it works like a lock, attaching itself to the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR). This allows it to block a number of key pathways responsible for inflammation. Pre-treating the cells with the acid (or lipid) made them withstand inflammation better.
Lowry thinks this understanding can lead to creating a "stress vaccine" that can be given to people in high-stress jobs, like first responders or soldiers. The vaccine can prevent the psychological effects of stress.
What's more, this friendly bacterium is not the only potentially helpful organism we can find in soil.
"This is just one strain of one species of one type of bacterium that is found in the soil but there are millions of other strains in soils," said Lowry. "We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of identifying the mechanisms through which they have evolved to keep us healthy. It should inspire awe in all of us."
Check out the study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.
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