Uber and Other Platform Businesses: The Next Big Wave of Automation
There is a class of businesses – let’s call them “platform businesses” – that uses technology to engage large pools of new labor in carrying out its work. A “platform” is something on which others can build. Uber’s platform allows amateur drivers to compete with the taxi business. Airbnb’s platform helps people rent their homes in competition with commercial lodging providers. Facebook’s platform enables people to publish pictures, news and other content in ways that have significantly expanded the media landscape.
Like a Lego board in the sky, platform businesses make it easy to plug our work into their work.
Engagement platforms are exciting because they create opportunity. But platform businesses are also starting to raise questions of economic equity and, in some cases, risk automating a great many people out of work.
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