Optimizing Our WTF Economy for the Long-Term

Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, believes we should rethink the world using today’s technology. “Let’s stop optimizing for the short-term. Let’s start optimizing for the long-term, and think about how to make the society we want,” O’Reilly says. O’Reilly acknowledges that technology is destroying jobs today, but only because “we’ve built incentives into our economy to encourage those choices.” O’Reilly believes that an economy not optimized for the short-term would place much less importance on stock performance, and would pay workers more. He refers to the current economy as the WTF economy because he sees WTF as an expression of both wonder and dismay, and in today’s economy, O’Reilly says, we see both.

O’Reilly sees hopeful signs in the emerging sharing economy, but worries that at least parts of it originated because people aren’t making enough money to get by. He thinks that ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber should pay more attention to driver satisfaction and retention, rather than optimizing their algorithm solely for customer pickup time. “We need a moral revolution in business which isn’t about do-goodism; it’s about the right way to do things,” says O’Reilly. He believes that we have a few-year window in which we figure out a new social safety net. We have a society that values the butting of heads to get to the truth, O’Reilly says. We could do a lot better at creative engagement. “Rather than using technology to cut costs and drive down the cost of labor, we should ask ourselves: What does technology let us do that was previously impossible?”

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of work and the sharing economy, check out O’Reilly Media’s Next:Economy summit in San Francisco, October 10–11.

Originally published at reinvent.net on July 18, 2016. Series: The Future of Sharing.

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