Four ways the sharing economy is changing us | Stephen Miller | TEDxBoise


Translator: Lisa Rodriguez
Reviewer: Rhonda Jacobs Ours is the age of sharing, gigging
and Ubering just about everything. Let me give you a couple of examples. When you leave here tonight, maybe you will get on your Uber app and you will get someone
to take you home in their personal car. Let us imagine that you decide
to go on a vacation, maybe you’ll go on to Airbnb
and stay with someone in their own home while they’re there. These are the things we didn’t do
that long ago, but it goes further. Let’s say you go to IKEA,
and you buy your child some furniture, and you’re facing putting together a crib? You don’t have to learn how to use
that Allen wrench anymore, you can go onto TaskRabbit
and get somebody else to do it for you. Le’s say you’re tired of cooking. You can go onto Blue Plate, and you can get someone
to use a shared kitchen, and they will deliver
that fresh meal to your door for your family to eat,
and you don’t have to cook anymore. Now, the interesting thing
about all these uses, and a lot of the other uses
of the sharing economy, is that they profoundly change the way that we think about
the way our economy works and the way we’ve done business. The other interesting thing
is that a lot of them are also illegal. Now, I wrote an article called “First Principles
for Regulating the Sharing Economy” that was recently published
in the Harvard Journal on Legislation, and in that, I deal with a lot of
the technical issues of this illegality. But I want to focus here today
on four principles for why you should embrace
the sharing economy and ways that it can affect your life. I’m going to call these
the core principles: Community, Ownership,
Reputation, and Equity. So let’s start with community. When we think about community, we often think about family,
close friends. But in the ’70s, a sociologist
named Mark Granovetter started thinking about
other types of community. And what he was looking at in particular
were what he came to call “weak ties.” These were the people
that you barely know. Jane Jacobs, the urbanist,
might have called these, in her lingo, “hop skip” people, the kind of people
that help to bridge boundaries between us. And what he found in his research,
and subsequent sociologists have found, is that it’s along these weak ties that a lot of information
in communities flows, and the kind of the political cohesiveness
of our society tends to rest. Well, that’s all big thoughts
and everything, but I’m going to argue
that the sharing economy can be valuable because it provides us these opportunities
to make weak ties in communities. Let me give you an example. My family, we rented an Airbnb in a single-family residential
neighborhood in Bend, Oregon. And we go there, and we’re at the park
with my two-year-old daughter at the time, and we start talking
to another guy who’s there, who lives there and has a two-year-old. And we start talking about how hard it is
to find a place to go with kids, a place go out to eat. He tells us about this pop-up beer garden
that has come up across town, where there’s food trucks, he says, “It’s a great place to go,
you should go there.” We go, we have a great time,
it was perfect. That’s the kind of information
that wasn’t in the tourist books, that we wouldn’t have found ourselves. But it was that weak tie that provided us the information
to have a little bit of a better time. That’s the kind of community building
the sharing economy can really facilitate. But there’s another issue of community
that we really need to think about. Let’s say that instead of just us
being there at the playground, there were 15 people that were vacationing
in that residential neighborhood. And we were all there
with our two-year-old daughters, and he comes with his
two-year-old daughter. Well now, suddenly, it’s not
the same type of experience that he was expecting
when he went to the playground, right? So one of the issues
as we think about these types of uses that allow us to engage
in the communities that we visit is that we have to think about the effects
on the communities that we are visiting. So while the sharing economy
can provide us great new opportunities through things like weak ties,
to find new ways into the community, we also need to think about
the types of effects that we have on established communities, and make sure
that we’re protecting them as well. Okay, so that’s community. Now, let’s talk about ownership. Americans, we love to own things, right? Let me give you a couple of examples about how the sharing economy
can change our emphasis on ownership to an emphasis on access
to owning collective goods. Okay. Let’s say you’re working in your wood shop
trying to make a piece of furniture, and you find out that halfway through
you need some sort of specialty sander. Well, one thing you could do
is you can go down to Home Depot and buy that thing that costs
$100 or $200, right? And you’re going to use it,
then it’s going to sit there for a year or maybe two years, or maybe you’ll use it
five times in the entire time you own it. Then you’ll sell it for $5,
20 years from now. The alternative would be,
what’s happening now, is that a lot of places
have lending tool libraries. You go, you need that specialty sander,
you use it for the weekend you need it, and then you take it back,
then someone else gets to use it as well. Let me give you another example
of a sort of science fiction future. Autonomous vehicles. When we think about autonomous vehicles, which are probably going to be here
sooner than we imagine, in another decade or two, right? These are vehicles
that will drive themselves. Now some people will buy these, right? These are the people
that buy Teslas or something, right? But a lot of us are not going to buy
an autonomous vehicle. Instead what we’re going to do
is we’re going to access it through a shared autonomous vehicle, okay? And so what we want to do
is think about creating an access point to collective ownership
of that autonomous vehicle. This is precisely what General Motors
and Lyft are teaming up to do right now. You may have heard about this, but GM just purchased a $500 million stake
in the ride-sharing app Lyft. And what they are trying to do
is precisely this: create an access point
for you and for all of us to these new autonomous vehicles. Alright. So what we’ve seen here with ownership
is that the collective access – if we focus on access
to collectively owned goods, we can do two things. First, we can better utilize
underutilized goods, that’s the sander that sits on the shelf, instead of sitting on the shelf,
a bunch of people get to use it. And the other thing is we can plan
for infrastructure better. We can better use
our infrastructure dollars. So if we collectively own that car
and it comes only when we need it, maybe we don’t need a five-lane highway,
maybe we only need a three-lane highway. And maybe we don’t all need
driveways anyway, right? The car will just pull up right in front
of our house when we need it. Now, that may all sound like
science fiction future, but it will be here before we know it. And if we focus on this type of thing, we can substantially increase the way
we plan for infrastructure in the future. Alright, reputation. When we think about reputation, we know that it’s an important
part of business, right? But the reputation
in the sharing economy is all; it is everything. For both the workers and the consumers, it’s important that we as individuals
be able to own our reputations, and moreover, that we can take it with us. So, what does that mean? If you decide to use the sharing economy,
like say you decide to hire a driver to take you from
point A to point B on Uber. You’re going to rate that person;
you’re going to give them five stars. Great job, they got me there on time. And they are maybe going to rate you,
maybe give you four stars, because you weren’t such
a great conversationalist or something. Well, maybe in that one rating,
there’s some variation. But if that driver takes
100 different rides, or 1,000 rides over the course of a year,
they start to earn a reputation. If they’re a great driver, five stars, you’re going to want to take
that ride with that person. Same with you as a passenger, right? Reputation matters. But here’s the interesting thing. If that Uber driver decides
that they want to go some startup, can they take their reputation with them? Let’s say it’s a company
that does the exact same thing, some other startup, a Boise Uber
equivalent; they want to go local, right? Well, they can’t take
that reputation with them. They can’t take those
1,000 five-star ratings. I think that’s a problem; I think that you should
be able to own your reputation. Moreover, let’s talk about
across platforms. You want to hire that person to come
and assemble your baby’s crib. Well, maybe you also want to know
about their ratings as a driver on Uber, or hosting people on Airbnb. It may not be definitive
with how they are with an Allen wrench, and you may decide to hire
that person anyway, but wouldn’t you want to know
if they had bad ratings or people thought they had
bad driving skills or something? These are the kinds of things
that we would want to know, and that reputation should be portable, and somebody should be able
to own it individually. Alright. Finally, equity. One of the most important things
that we’ve done over the last 50 years is to ensure equitable accommodation
in things like hotels and taxis. People that are disabled,
minorities in our population, have historically struggled with these types of public accommodations
and public utilities. African Americans
having trouble finding taxis, people with disabilities
not being able to access buildings. We’ve done a lot over the last 50 years
with the Americans with Disabilities Act and specifically
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They’ve done a lot to assure
that the disabled and minorities in our society have access
to these public accommodations. But there is a lawsuit
in California right now where a number of blind individuals
have alleged they’ve had a hard time getting rides with ride sharing
companies like Uber and Lyft, because drivers do not want
to have their dogs in the cars with them. At the same time, a recent study
out of Harvard University has found that those
with African-American names on Airbnb have had a much harder time
securing a place to stay through the site than those with non-African-American
sounding names. These point to problems
with the sharing economy that we need to address. I would argue that while the nature
of the regulations to ensure equity may be difficult for us to think through, they’re important to ensure
that equity remains viable in this new economy that we’re creating. So these are the core principles. These are the core principles,
and If we follow through with these, and we make the core principles part of the way that we think
through the sharing economy, we can make sure that we have not only
new opportunities for the sharing economy, a new way of doing business, but one that is equitable
and can actually revolutionize our lives. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheers)

2 thoughts on “Four ways the sharing economy is changing us | Stephen Miller | TEDxBoise

  1. Another model that involves money. "Sharing economy" is just another way to make money and you have to work several jobs to make enough to survive.
    Not relying on your tax money, money from government funded charity organization and money donation from people is the real sustainable movement: unlike some of these models under "sharing economy" that rent something in exchange for your money is just another profitable form of capitalism in disguise. Before giving them your money, do some research on who they took from to start their business.

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