And yet, on reflection, Rifkin’s examples turn out to be anything but collaborative at their heart. Companies such as Uber and Airbnb are fiercely profit-driven, taking large cuts from all the exchanges they facilitate. They are middlemen themselves, albeit somewhat more efficient and open than their predecessors. What’s more, the digital payment systems that underpin their services are also highly centralised and very expensive. Rifkin unintentionally highlights this when he claims that the ‘web-facilitated scaling of financing brings the marginal cost of lending to borrowers to near zero’, only to clarify that Kickstarter takes 5 per cent of all funds raised on its site, with another 3 to 5 per cent going to Amazon Payments. Those costs are not even close to zero. They represent (to borrow a phrase) a vampire squid attached to the face of the Collaborative Commons.
– David Z Morris, “RoboCorp“
Technology fashions are almost always pushed by a combination of old established money being fronted by wunderkinds, and they’re almost always young, white, and ready for something new. Worth remembering that the children of this technological revolution are the same disaffected postteens that fueled fascism of all sorts (in the US and abroad) in the early 20th century.