BBC Future

World-Changing Ideas

How share tactics can change our planet

Rent out your loft space, offer your couch to strangers and share your car with a neighbour - could this change our lives for the better?

In one sense we live in a world of swelling populations, scarce resources, and we feel burdened by this. Conversely, we are living in a moment of incredible abundance, says Robin Chase, founder and CEO of car-sharing company Buzzcar. Technology is allowing is to unleash abundance in a way we’ve never done before.

Excess capacity is something we aren’t using at this exact minute. Cars are the second most popular thing people own in their lives but they are only used on average 1 hour 20 minutes a day. So they are sitting idle up to 23 hours a day. We need to make these things accessible.

What Chase did with car sharing is instead of having 20 cars in the neighbourhood there was one shared car. There is this new means of collaboration allowing us to expand and extend the resources we have in this way. By creating platforms to access these assets and open them up to invite other minds, we’ve created a way to scale this up. Unlocking this potential means we can use resources much more effectively, and therefore require much less resources. It also means we can tap people’s brilliant minds.

We can also think about excess capacity as networks, ideas and experiences that we haven’t opened up to people. Take Wikipedia. It’s like my excess mental capacity sitting idly in my mind, says Chase, and I suddenly thought I’d go ahead and edit or write this entry. This idea of platforms plus people equals democratisation of innovation and creativity. It also puts us more in control of our own jobs and future if we have the power to go out and earn money in many different ways than we had before. This idea of platforms plus people is going to have an enormous impact, it delivers scale, speed and the diversity of the creative mind.

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