Self Driving People

Thomas L. Friedman: Self Driving people, Enabled by Airbnb, New York Times, July 2017

Mining passion …

And that’s why I won’t be surprised if in five years Airbnb is not only still the world’s biggest home rental service, but also one of the world’s biggest jobs platforms. You read that right. Very quietly Airbnb has been expanding its trust platform beyond enabling people to rent their spare rooms to allowing them to translate their passions into professions, and thereby empower more self-driving people.

Don’t worry: I don’t own stock in Airbnb. (Wish I could.) But I’ve been following it nearly from its inception through conversations with one of its founders, C.E.O. Brian Chesky, and I highlight the latest step in its evolution because I think it provides part of the answer to one of the most vexing societal questions we face today: Will machines and robots take all our jobs?

Through the WI Lens

Mr Friedman is pro Airbnb, their accomplishments to date and what he sees in the tea leaves for the future. He suggests that Airbnb may be the spearhead of mitigation against bots and automation by cultivating, fertilising and nurturing “self driving people” via their rapidly growing “trust platform”. This opinion piece discusses the enablement of prosperity via the gig economy and (more via the comments on the article, than within the piece) simultaneously, the impact to society.

Hotel companies such as Hilton and Accor, have voiced a welcome for Airbnb. At the same time, Skift surmise that there is more to be worried about that the hotel industry is prepared to admit. The impact being seen goes beyond business to the societal basics of affordable rent and the ability for town and city infrastructures to cope with increased tourism.

The rapid growth and success of Airbnb illustrates not only shrewd response to market need and valuable income for hosts but also (in some towns and cities) imbalance and discourse to many other peoples’ lives.

A sense of equality and inclusive consideration has proved itself essential to societal wellbeing. Can an equilibrium be reached?

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