Jan 18, 2017

Airbnb sides with humans over AI

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

Trump accuses Twitter of interfering in 2020 election

President Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

President Trump responded via tweets Tuesday evening to Twitter fact-checking him for the first time on his earlier unsubstantiated posts claiming mail-in ballots in November's election would be fraudulent.

What he's saying: "Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election.They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post," the president tweeted. "Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!"

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 5,559,130 — Total deaths: 348,610 — Total recoveries — 2,277,087Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,679,419 — Total deaths: 98,852 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: CDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets for first time

President Trump briefs reporters in the Rose Garden on May 26. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter fact-checked two of President Trump's unsubstantiated tweets that mail-in ballots in the 2020 election would be fraudulent for the first time on Tuesday, directing users to "get the facts" through news stories that cover the topic.

Why it matters: Twitter and other social media platforms have faced criticism for not doing enough to combat misinformation, especially when its propagated by the president.