SEATTLE – Global warming, income inequality and access to opportunity are three of the great challenges of our time, and they are three challenges where open source peer platforms could play a role.
Speaking at the Linuxcon conference here, Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar, discussed her views on how an idea she refers to as ‘Peers Inc’ could quite literally save all human life on planet Earth.
With Zipcar, Chase said that she is trying to solve the challenge of resource utilization. With cars, there historically were only two ways to get a car, you could buy one or you could rent. With a car purchase the asset is typically only used five percent of the time, while with rentals people could only rent in 24 hours bundles.
“Either way you always had to buy more than you really needed,” Chase said. “I figured if you could just pay for what you use, the economics would transform the world.”
Chase explained that the key is about making it easier to share a car in less time than it takes to rent a car. She added that with car rental companies, many consumers also distrust them and there is an antagonistic relationship.
“With Zipcar, we make it more collaborative and we think of consumers as co-creators,” Chase said.
The Peers Inc model leverages excess capacity, people and platform in order to scale. The Internet has lowered transaction costs and now local customization can more easily be engineered.
The Peers Inc. model brings in the diversity of a massive number of users and then leverages the power of platform to enable participation.
“The power of peers comes together with platform in a yin/yang relationship and swims in the sea of excess capacity,” Chase said.
The peers model of scaling delivers diversity, innovation, resilience and redundancy, while the inc platform side provides the economies of scale.
Beyond the economic benefits for creators, Chase said that the Peers Inc model can also be a tool to save the planet. Chase noted that global warming is an increasingly growing problem and to date solutions for global warming have been mostly linear.
“With Peers Inc. we can defy the laws of physics,” Chase said. “We can build the largest hotel chain in the world with Airbnb in just four years.”
Additionally with Peers Inc. creators can tap the power of exponential learning. For example, Chase said that DuoLingo now has 90 million users, with 45 million of those users learning languages that DuoLingo users themselves contributed to the platform.
“Industrial capitalism is dead because the Internet exists and sharing is a better way of extracting more value,” Chase said.
Chase emphasized that shared network assets always deliver more value than closed assets and more networked minds are always greater in number than propriety minds. She added that the benefits of shared open assets are always larger that any of the problems of open assets.
“Whenever I participate I always get more than I give,” Chase said.
When it comes to figuring out how to address climate change, how to deal with the issue of income distribution and how to increase access to opportunity to build a new sustainable equitable economy, Chase is adamant that an open model of peer-based platform is the way forward.
“Peers Inc with open source can help to build the world we want to live in,” Chase said.
Zipcar founder Robin Chase
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datatmation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist