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?
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”
“All roads lead to a wellbeing anchor, whether that be economic/financial, physical, mental or emotional: all contribute to a progressive and inclusive cosmopolitan world. The answer should not be a choice of one or the other but of a joined up and compassionate solution for society, business and individuals.”
“The paradox is that we continue to do this in spite of recognising that striving to become ever-more productive is an intrinsically unhealthy behaviour, leading to stress and too often, a sense of failure.”
“The same broad-sweeping structural racism that enables police brutality against black Americans is also responsible for higher mortality among black Americans with Covid-19,” Maimuna Majumder, a Harvard epidemiologist working on the Covid-19 response, tells Vox.
The take-out from this? Wellbeing cannot exist at a more elevated level without our basic needs being met.