We share our cars, homes, even our genetics these days but what does this all mean for workers and micro-entrepreneurs?
Bloomberg’s The Next Big Thing Conference kicked off at Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, Calif., this morning with Ron Conway, Esther Dyson and John Hennessy discussing just that — the impact that companies like Uber and Airbnb could have on the global economy.
Conway launched into Uber and Airbnb and pointed out the ability for these sorts of companies to globally bypass info tech giants like Google, emphasizing that they can actually get through to China. He also shared his opinion that Airbnb saved New York housing during the 2008 recession. “[Airbnb] helped people stay in their homes,” he said.
Conway and Dyson were sure companies like Uber were creating jobs, but what happens when we move to self-driving cars? This is where the debate got interesting. All three thought Uber would not eventually have fleets of self-driving cars. CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanik, has shared his belief that Uber eventually will replace its fleets with them. It was surprising all three disagreed with Kalanick and thought we’d always have human drivers.
Conway also reiterated his stance on the sharing economy and that we need to change archaic laws holding us back from furthering the future of where we can go with it. “The sharing economy is the next big thing…a multi billion dollar industry,” said Conway.
Dyson opined on the workers of the world, saying that we still need people, especially in education and bridge building. But then everyone agreed that eventually the machines would do that, too.
Dyson then complained about her Uber driver, saying she thought they should be made to take a drug test before driving her. It’s a breach of privacy, sure, but she said that was the price they should pay for her safety.
The most interesting thing she mentioned was her opinion that FedEx should get into the waste management business. Because 3D tech is localizing everything and helping us reduce, reuse, recycle, the delivery company should start to reshape the materials around us to stay relevant, she said.
So what does this mean for the future of work, at least according to these illuminaries? We still need people, the sharing economy is a game-changer and we’re in control of it all until the machines take over.