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Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine

While much of Silicon Valley is loudly disrupting the role of people in the physical world ― from self-driving cars to grab-and-go supermarkets ― Airbnb is quietly touting its maintenance of the human touch. And it could pay dividends with local regulators who are increasingly concerned with the impact of automation on their communities.

Airbnb public policy chief Chris Lehane recently spoke with Axios about the home-sharing company's impact on local tax revenue, and its role in helping hosts afford the mortgage. Standard Airbnb lobbying points, designed to help blunt concerns about everything from affordable housing to tenant safety. But then Lehane added this:

What makes Airbnb different than a lot of other platforms is that you have a human or humans interacting with other humans. Travel at end of day is about experiencing other people. We're always going to be about humans.

Smart strategy, although it will be interesting to see if Lehane changes his tune in a future where some hosts effectively outsource their responsibilities to machines (yes, there already are Amazon Alexa skills for home hosts). For example, do New York City's apartment occupancy rules apply if it's not actually a human occupant?

Why it matters: There's a growing global conversation about automation's long-term effect on employment at a time when Donald Trump rode a wave of economic anxiety to the White House. That puts a cherished Silicon Valley value up for debate — and risks putting tech companies in the political hot seat.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
53 mins ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.