I subscribe/follow several sources of news and information on thing tech. More big picture than detailed technical. This week the CEOs of Airbnb and Facebook offered their insights about the post-pandemic future. It has been my experience the press release/announcement is splashy event with all the rest playing itself out over time. But in the interim their pronouncements about the future are increasingly red-carpet events and there is a tendency to opine about things not exactly “in their wheelhouse.” [Note: idiomatic use of “wheelhouse” – the field in which a person excels; one’s strongest interest or ability; Oxford English Dictionary … in case you were wondering.]
Uber’s proclaimed that it would help alleviate traffic and pollution in major metropolitan areas and reduce the number of cars in the United States. In 2015, Uber’s co-founder Travis Kalanick described the future of his company: “Fewer cars, less congestion, more parking, less pollution and creating thousands of jobs.” Research now shows that Uber and other on-demand ride services largely did the opposite. They made traffic in many cities worse, contributed to an increase in miles driven in the United States and pulled people from shared transit to solo cars. (Shira Ovide, NYT) There is always the unintended consequence. I doubt Mark Zuckerberg saw that Facebook would empower authoritarians and create incentives for the most radical voices.
The Industrial Revolution and Scientific Age promised utopia was just around the corner. And to be fair, far less of the world lives in abject poverty than 100 years ago…but too many people still experience that today.
The future is unknown to us simple folk and to CEOs.
Here’s my prediction about the future: I will post some more musings tomorrow.