The product mindset, in other words, turns the API from a systems integration project to a digital asset that can provide ongoing value. It’s the difference between end users having navigational capabilities in a few applications and end users having navigational capabilities in many apps plus new industries, such as ridesharing, that were nurtured on publicly available mapping API products.
“Jobs,” for example, may not be the best way to organize work that can be precisely routed to the best people available. Yet “jobs” as a system for organizing work is deeply ingrained into our society and is tangled up in everything from health care and retirement to personal identities and the fundamentals of economic policy. Further, while some early proposals, like Universal Basic Income, have already been sketched out, i…
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However, as software engineers essentially author a growing segment of our economic operating system, it may take deliberate design choices in platform architecture, business models, new civic services, and public policy to prevent this increasingly seamless “coordination economy” from becoming highly inequitable as well. Already the growth of on-demand work has allowed investors and owners in some industrialized regions to reap substantial financial returns while many of the people using platforms to generate income streams are struggling to maintain their standard of living. Uber drivers, for example, have seen a drop in earnings in the United States over the last couple of years, even as the company continues to grow at a dramatic pace.
These self-managing systems may also invest in the deployment of algorithms that help them decide which services to provide when: commuter rides during the premium-fee rush hour, food delivery in the evening, and emergency medical package delivery late at night. They may even trade their algorithms or data with other self-managing vehicles — for a fee. Importantly, these vehicles would also contribute to aggregate demand by buying fuel, marketing themselves, and ordering their own repair services as needed.
How? While the automation of production and supply has been discussed quite a bit in recent years, the automation of demand may turn out to be an even more important, if much less explored, development. It is possible someday, for example, that self-managing and even self-owning autonomous vehicles may form “corporations” unto themselves. Using “smart” contracts, they may begin to incorporate themselves, seek investors, and pay dividends. If this sounds fantastical, consider that it is estimated that three-fourths of trades on the New Y…
Collective cognition systems are still in their infancy, but their potential is becoming clearer. Over time, we are likely to see steps toward the construction of literal “machines to produce wisdom,” designed to bring together both AI and collective human insight, and to systematically build toward ideas that are particularly creative, or clever, or humane, or likely to succeed.