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Opinion

What Governments Can Learn From Airbnb And the Sharing Economy

By Arun Sundararajan

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Put differently, the sharing economy might offer innovative approaches to not just its own regulation challenges, but to unresolved regulation challenges that predate its emergence.

A potential guest recently sued online home rental service Airbnb over allegations of racial discrimination by some of its hosts. While the company has since reiterated its commitment to rooting out racial bias, including hiring a former ACLU head to oversee its efforts, the case highlights a broader set of societal challenges we will face as the sharing economy expands into new services.

In my new book, The Sharing Economy, I discuss how platforms like Airbnb and Lyft blur the lines between our personal and professional lives, creating gray areas for business owners, consumers and governments. It is clear that these digital platforms are not inherently biased, but rather services that have given transparency to undesirable human biases that manifest when people make choices about the usage of spaces they consider personal. This calls for new regulatory solutions to old problems.

Read the full article as published in Fortune

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Arun Sundararajan is a Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences, Robert L. & Dale Atkins Rosen Faculty Fellow, and Doctoral Coordinator of IOMS-Information Systems.