Home Forums Silicon Valley Study Tour – August 2018 Milano Silicon Valley 2018

124 replies, 13 voices Last updated by JiaLiang 1 year, 7 months ago
  • Luca B.
    Keymaster
    @lucabaldessarini
    #2144

    Hi @stefaniatibiletti, happy to here from you again!

    Thank you so much for the advice about answers, I was just figuring out how to better approach and interact with the forum arguing my ideas, I’m sorry about the overexcitement, less inputs and more depth analysis from now on, I promise!

    I liked so much a phrase from the article you shared: “crowdsourcing is the distribution of problem solving”, it really is, and that concept in my opinion, is the true foundation of what the whole internet has to be, in order to reach out his full potential, creating through crowdsourced innovation, knowledge, projects and ideas a true “decentralized” net, owned by no one but shaped by everyone.

    Secondly, catching up your questions, I think that there are more benefits than problems related to this theme, for sure when something is crowdsourced you have also to crowdsource your trust towards the unknown so you have to be more careful and observant so, for example, for Wikipedia you’ve to strictly check out if the informations are true and clear in order to maintain the quality of your open source product, but in the end I’m firmly convinced that projects like Kickstarter, definitely overcome all of this; Starting in 2009 from the roots of the crowdsourcing concept and a very simple but amazing idea, this startup has changed forever the way people think about funding, throughout their platform in facts you’ve now the power to change the world with almost no money, that’s I think the true democratization of ideas.

    In the end you can consider also Facebook some sort of open source platform, where every one can share their thoughts nearly without any limitation, but with all the downsides we are facing these days like the spread of fake news, which can now more than ever influence politics and society very heavily; Especially in this case I think that the “regulation thing” of which I was talking about is becoming more and more crucial, if in charge of “Facebook Informations Policies” I’d personally try to introduce some sort of verified account for every body, like banks do for accounts, maybe using all the benefits blockchain technology can provide to check people’s Fb accounts and news, finally allowing a clear crowdsourced platform to spread true informations all over the world.

    And you guys? What do you think are pros and cons of these crowdsourced platforms? Can’t wait for your answers and thoughts, have a nice day!

    Luca Baldessarini

    Lorenzo Stevenazzi
    Participant
    @l-stevenazzi
    #2145

    Hi everyone!
    I’m so sorry Stefania for having overwhelmed you but I’m very excited of having this awesome opportunity to share thoughts and reflections upon these topics. I’m sure we’ll have a very interesting and constructive discussion from now on. Thanks for your kind help.

    I agree as Luca with the statement about crowdsourcing as distribution of problem solving.
    Crowdsourcing allows expensive projects to be carried forward, achieving results which wouldn’t be otherwise accomplished. This is, for example, the case of LHC Computing Grid. The latter is a computing infrastructure that gives physicists the opportunity of treating data without them staying on site. CERN, in fact, doesn’t have the computing and financial resources to analyse all the data (about 50 PB only in 2017) at Geneva so it is essential to distribute these tasks around the world. Just to make you realise that, you can see the amount of data transferred in real time here. In addition to that, common people can join the same projects supporting them by keeping running softwares that perform tasks and collision simulations when their computers are in idle state. This is what BOINC by UC Berkeley is, with a lot of distributed computing projects in different science fields.
    This is crowd computing and I think it is an indispensable requirement to the progression of innovation. (I see that maybe science progression in not always related to innovation, meaning by “innovation” something that can impact on common people lives, but it has effects on them in most of the cases, such as with the birth of Internet and capacitive touchscreens at CERN again).

    I agree with what Luca said about Kickstarter. We live in a period in which everyone with a great idea can get funds. This would have been impossible not so many years ago and it is totally a good thing to have different players on the market instead of the same self-funded ones.

    Personally I don’t think Facebook is an open source platform as users can’t actually improve Facebook itself (such as for example Mozilla users could, if they have a programmer background). On the other hand, I agree with Luca that, although all the forementioned problems, it is a great place to share thoughts because of the amount of people who use it, so it’s like a open source tool in this way. His answer reminded me of Reddit, a social news service which let users talk about different topics after dividing them in so-called channels. It is focused on community resources and has a tool to limit fake news. Practically users vote the most relevant posts about the same topic, putting them in the upper part of the webpage.

    Referring to the cons of crowdsourcing, I think they are a less manageable team to work with and difficulties when perform a shared task while living in different time zones. Another huge risk is the potential loss of ideas when developing them, resolvable by strict conduct policies. I suggest crowdsourcing is not always the best choice, although sometimes it is essential. In my opinion, the best option would be having a central team on site and then distribute tasks to other trusted teams using tools such as Trello, Slack or similar ones.

    Have a nice day, can’t wait to hear from you!

    Elisa
    Participant
    @elisa
    #2146

    Hi guys!
    I hope you’re enjoying your holidays 🙂

    The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear “crowdsourcing” is Wikimedia Foundation, because last year me and some colleagues should create a canvas model about a non profit foundation and we choose wikimedia foundation. I remember that I was really surprised knowing that the main part of their capital was made by donations. Opening their webpage, the first thing that stands out is the link to fundraising. But fundraising is just a part of their crowdsourcing, there are also volunteers whom edit Wikipedia contents for free.
    I think crowdsourcing is one of the good things came from technology and development . It is the proper use of innovation, a place where brilliant brains can meet and create something unique and useful. Obviously there should be people able to provide some plus value to the project, otherwise is just a waste of time, and timing is key here. We live in a market world where obsolescence comes so fast that you should be ready to change instantly.
    The bad side I found in crowdsourcing is that it should take you nowhere if it isn’t well communicated. I think marketing and communication are vital to help spreading the knowledge of the existence of a crowdsourcing not only to let it survive but, above all, to generate something.
    One program that I usually use is Freelencer.com, in which companies create a project and a budget and receive offers from freelancers (me) interested in the work. It is a new way to create your own work. So there are two points of view: company’s side and the worker’s one and everyone earns something.

    I wish you a happy xmas ! 🙂

    Luca B.
    Keymaster
    @lucabaldessarini
    #2147

    Hi there! Happy to hear so many good ideas and thoughts,

    First of all thumbs up for Lorenzo’s example about Reddit, is for real a super successful crowdsourced company ($200 mln in fundings since is launch back in 2005) which spreads the true informations that user want, democratizing in this way the whole net.

    Regarding what Elisa said I couldn’t agree more with the idea of crowdsourcing as «the proper use of innovation», despite as many cons we’d like to add to this topic in the end I think that examples like the user donations representing the main stream of capital of Wikimedia Foundation, as Elisa wrote, truly lights up the way this amazing project has entirely shaped the encyclopedia concept; allowing everyone to simply have the culture at the click of a button I think is the most important and authentic gift you can give to a human being, and at the same time letting other people freely shred their knowledge without any reward except from the common good, well I think that’s simply awesome.
    The wikipedia mission, “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing”, stated by this quote by its Co-Founder, Jimmy Wales, genuinely sums up the whole thing, this free access open source idea has forever changed our approach towards informations, data collection and so on.

    I truly believe, like I wrote a bunch of messages ago, concerning the content reliability that the blockchain technology, maybe also applied to the Wiki project, will dramatically enhance somehow the genuine spread of information without any lack of confidence, finally allowing anyone trust everyone, enabling in the end the full potential of the open source original idea.

    I’d like to leave you with a really good story from Harvard Business Review Videos which is “Crowdsourcing Inside Your Company“, short but really effective.

    Bye for now and Merry Christmas to you all!

    Lorenzo Stevenazzi
    Participant
    @l-stevenazzi
    #2148

    Hi everyone!
    Thank you Luca, I like Reddit very much, moreover it was also funded by Y Combinator, after the latter liked them as a team.

    Wikimedia Foundation is a great example, maybe the most well-known about shared knowledge, as you both highlighted. In my opinion their biggest merit, in addition to Wikipedia, is the spreading of a culture of free education, since 2003. This is visible in their products, such as Wikiversity and Wikibooks, around which WikiToLearn is shaped, as I wrote some posts ago.

    I couldn’t agree more with Elisa about the importance of marketing in a crowdsourced projects, especially in the funding process. A catchy phrase, an engaging image and simplicity are essential in order to point out the main features of the prototype you are looking funding for. Luckily there are some websites that could help both companies and freelancers to get the job done. Another website in addition to the one she wrote about is Dribbble, that is focused on finding potential clients looking for the projects the designer has already started and currently working on. This is a perspective twist respect to Freelancer.com.

    Regarding what Luca said, I’m sure there would be some benefits of using the blockchain technology in order to validate the truthfulness of information, especially because there isn’t a single organisation that certificates that, but the whole process is decentralised and this would allow its neutrality. This would eliminate any intermediaries while unfortunately increasing the computational costs of the verification process. For this reason, I think it would be a great tool as a substitute of databases to store certificates (or transactions to be more general) but it is required an environment of running computers which keep validating them and this would be very expensive in terms of energy consumption. A solution could be using a blockchain with less computational costs, for example the one of Litecoins instead of Bitcoins.

    Regarding to the blockchain technology one awesome opportunity is using it to generate fundings in crowdsourced projects. ICO, which stands for Initial Coin Offering, is a kind of crowdfunding centered on cryptocurrencies. A company or a startup sells digital tokens, allowing investors to receive benefits in future spending them, from converting them in other cryptocurrencies to using them in order to receive services. One example of this is Eidoo, an Italian startup that receives the equivalent of 21 million dollars on Ethereum in less than two weeks. They aim to simplify cryptocurrencies payments in everyday life and they used an ICO to start their project. This is different from an IPO, which stands for Initial Public Offering, in which they give away shares of a company and that is strictly regulated by laws. ICO is an unusual way to raise fundings thanks to a new technology, the blockchain.

    Finally, I want to say something about the video Luca posted. I think it is a great example of the fact that sometimes innovation is really close but in a company with lots of employees it is difficult that everyone actively contributes. To do this, in fact, an inclusive environment with offices to submit ideas is needed.

    Hope you have spent a great Christmas day! Can’t wait to hear from you all!

    Luca B.
    Keymaster
    @lucabaldessarini
    #2149

    Hi guys! I hope all of you are enjoying your holidays.

    Talking about cryptos and ICOs, I couldn’t agree more about their revolutionizing funding concept, raising investments beyond VCs, with all the benefits blockchain technology can provide, may be a good thing in terms of equity (you don’t have to give up any share) and cash (with the cryptofever there’s never been a better time to hop aboard with your company on the ICO ship).
    However, there are also, unfortunately as with any boom, lots of scams and frauds which ironically come from the very same definition of this type of funding: “An Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is used by startups to bypass the rigorous and regulated capital-raising process required by venture capitalists or banks”; rigorous and regulated processes which are exactly there to avoid those scams, but more and more often In order to try to avoid legal requirements that come with any form of a security sale, many ICOs today use language such as ‘crowdsale’ or ‘donation’ instead of ICOs“.
    So I think that, in order to let this new crowdsourced and decentralized thing reach its full potential, we desperately need to learn how to separate legitimate projects from scams, we also need to be very conscious that as in any other new tech boom, like the web one back in the nineties, the market is always very volatile, with big opportunities as well as huge swindles from all over, someone gains somebody else loses, like the most times at least in the early stages of any emerging hot new market.
    Are we in a bubble? Who knows, perhaps markets will continue to generate profits until someone gets burned like in the dot-com bubble, or maybe not, probably this fever will abate itself stabilizing in the long term, but no one can predict the future.

    In the end, despite all these things, I firmly believe that blockchain technology is here to stay, it provides huge advantages, like the spread of both freedom and safety like never before, and it will revolutionize so many industries in a ways we cannot yet even imagine; but we also necessarily need to be aware of the risk involved in the short term, learning to avoid traps, we have to see through the light of innovation at the end of the tunnel in order to hope for a truly better future.

    I want to lo leave you with a quote from the article abovementioned, pretty tough but also truly objective about what the ICOs landscape looks like at the moment:

    “I’m sure there are some [ICOs] that are very interesting but at least 95 percent of the ICOs out there have none/very few of the basic fundamentals. Does that mean we should have a regulatory agency decide which ones are good or bad? No. It will require more maturity among investors in identifying Ponzis. The best way to learn which ICOs are worth it is to lose money. Waiting for the wash-out. When these people promise great riches, they usually mean for themselves. If you have a viable product… build it first and they will come. I do not treat these technologies as investments but learning opportunities.”

    I hope for lots and lots of answers from you guys, have a nice day and of course, Super Happy New Year to you all!

    Luca Baldessarini

    Lorenzo Stevenazzi
    Participant
    @l-stevenazzi
    #2155

    Hi everyone! It’s great to hear from you!

    Thank you Luca for the video of BCG: it is very understandable about what a blockchain is. As I wrote previously, I do think there are undeniable benefits of using a public ledger to certificate contents.

    In the following paragraphs I would like to point out two different point of views about cryptocurrencies.

    On one hand there is Pavel Durov, founder of Telegram. The popular messaging platform is, in fact, going to try to raise money using an ICO. Their are looking to get a $ 1.2 billion funding, which would be the largest ICO of all time, to start a blockchain payment system whose name is TON, standing for “Telegram Open Network”. They would sell their own cryptocurrency, called Gram and based on TON, which may make Telegram independent from governments or banks (avoiding issues like the one about Paypal and ProtonMail highlighted in the submitted article in the previous post). In addition to this all, users would be allowed to transfer money privately inside the messaging app itself, overcoming international fees, with the pros but also all the problems that might occur, such as evasion.

    On the other hand there is Warren Buffet, who thinks that almost with certainty they will come to a bad ending, quoting his interview to CNBC two days ago. He told that he doesn’t get what the intrinsic value of cryptocurrencies is, although they’re an innovative way to transfer money using blockchains.

    In my opinion scepticism about ICOs is given by the difficulty in evaluating a new company future development that leads to uncertain long term investments. Furthermore, not all projects might need this technology to decentralise contents or get fundings and transparency is not always put at first. I do think a company which relies on ICOs should take all the actions to show it is trustworthy and not a fraud.

    I couldn’t agree more with the last quote of the previous post, because this hype around blockchain is increasing attention around this technology. This might lead to unprecedented circumstances where it can be applied to improve processes, also in other science fields. An example of this is Wolfram Mathematica which is supporting an open source blockchain platform called Multichain. The latter might be used in future by scientists to publish scientific reports in a workspace which is independent from any possible censorship action.You can read more about this on this article appeared on Nature. The only problem left is an archive based on currency-like blockchain isn’t convenient to science because it would be rapidly filled with reports and the power cost needed to mine new blocks to add further publications would be very high. A new algorithm is needed and this could be developed, for example, on Multichain.

    Wishing you a successful and rewarding New Year and can’t wait to hear from you all!

     

    Luca B.
    Keymaster
    @lucabaldessarini
    #2156

    Hi there! How is it going?

    I’m so sorry to not hear so much from you all lately, what about actively interacting more frequently, like on a daily basis; I think that’s an incredible one-time opportunity to openly share our thoughts without even knowing each other, let’s let the tech speak by itself, come on guys!!

    So, first of all thank you Lorenzo for the hint about the Wolfram’s blockchain thing, I also think that the independent workspace for scientists idea could indeed be a truly key feature for the future of scientific discovers, very nice article out there!

    Secondly, yes there’s lot of confusion in the ecosystem about this whole new hot tech trend.
    Big ICOs like the Telegram forthcoming one are bringing this new type of funding to the roof, historic companies like Kodak, which will launch his photo-centric cryptocurrency called “KodakCoin” on January 31, are trying to jump onboard the new technology wave, after loosing the previous one, desperately trying find their place, everyone is trying to get a slice from the cake.

    At the same time, the big names of finance are profoundly divided, like Lorenzo pointed out about Buffet, there’re those against and those in favor, like in every big sensitive public subject right? But here I think there’s the main difference, big tech cycles like the web or the television one, were too big for the to be ignored by the big players, so at the same time they were publicly disparge them, channelling the public opinion only towards the bad aspects, the were secretly working on it to jump in asap.

    A great example for this is the one from David Sarnoff, whom back in the 30’s was an American businessman and pioneer of both American radio and television.
    As head of RCA, when the next big thing hit, the television, it went viral of course, but he suddenly pointed out how this new tech wasn’t read yet for the people, at the same time he and his team were working hard on it.

    So in the end I think that nowadays, like for the television boom, quotes like this one from the JPMorgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon, really bring to light the very same puppets show from the 30’s, as well as the ones from any kind of other boom, and they really represent how disruptive this tech is and will be.
    Bitcoin will not make it to the end of the day? The ICO fever will blow up? Who cares, like in the dot-com era, and like I’ve already pointed out few messages ago, someone will win and someone will lose, but the blockchain technology like the Internet one, is here to stay and to profoundly improve our lives and societies.

    I’m really looking forward to hear you all very very soon guys, LET’S DO IT!

    Bye for now,

    Luca Baldessarini

    Stefania Tibiletti
    Participant
    @stefaniatibiletti
    #2157

    Good Morning Guys!

    Sorry for the long absence but I came back yesterday from the Valley.

    I have read all your comments and I appreciate your effort in analyzing in depth the topic.
    But now I would like to change a little bit, I have understood that you like so much technical stuff, so let’s try to go out from your comfort zone.

    The first question is : Can you explain which are the main differences among BlaBlaCar and Uber?

     

    In San Francisco I used Uber, but there is this problem : https://qz.com/1103247/uber-and-lyft-services-may-increase-road-congestion-as-people-decide-to-ride-not-walk/

    How would you try to solve it? 

     

    Moreover, you cannot find BlaBlaCar in the US because the price of gas is not high enough to motivate consumers to look for other people in order to share a journey.

    Which suggestions would you like to give to BlaBlaCar to penetrate in the US market?

     

    And finally, what was wrong with the approach that Uber has had with the Italian market? Do you think that managing differently the introduction in our market, the destiny of Uber would have been different?

     

    Have a nice day!

    Luca B.
    Keymaster
    @lucabaldessarini
    #2158

    Hi @stefaniatibiletti!

    So happy to hear from you, how was the Valley? Everyone waiting for us? Haha… just kidding!

    Well, frist of all thank you so much for this new topic, I love these companies and this topic so much.

    Both Uber and BlaBlaCar are fully dipped in the new economy era, more specifically in the sharing one, in a market now worth more than 500 bln $.
    There’s also this amazing strage paradox of these new companies; Uber, the world leading cab platform owns no cars, like Airbnb owns no houses, and of course, BlablaCar, the largest long-distance sharing community, owns no vehicles, but they all managed some how to conquer huge shares in their market in this really new and disruptive way, each of theme becoming unicorns and more.

    Although, there are few differences between these two “automotive” companies; above all, Uber is a cab company, so it works within cities, while BlaBlaCar operates connecting the cities, with an average trip of 340 km.
    In second place also the main streams of revenue are truly different here, Uber takes between 5% and 20% transaction fee, more or less, depending on the age of the market, letting drivers make profit out of it like the traditional cab drivers, while BlaBlaCar takes away 10% transaction fee, only allowing “drivers” to go break even with their trip costs; and finally, like Stefania pointed out, BlaBla does not operates in the US market for now.

    Regarding this last point about the “U.S. market issue”, the main problem here, is the price of a driving mile which is three times lower than Europe, there is also a less trust in driving with strangers than is there in EU, and in the end there’s the structural issues, U.S. cities in fact tend to be a lot more spread out than ours.
    In my opinion the possible solution for BlaBlaCar could be to bridge the gap between short-distance trips managed by the domination of both Uber & Lyft, and the ultra long ones, which are mostly free of competitors.
    In this way the french startup could finally find a niche in the market, maybe showing up as a company for adventurous new very long-distance trips with strangers around America, reaching out a very specific target of crazy travelers, accessing side-line in this way his share in the industry.

    Unfortunately Uber on the other side has had to overstep lots of issues, unfortunately more crucial and sensitive than the ones addressed by BlaBlaCar not entering the US market.
    In Italy in fact, more than in other markets, the whole Uber thing hasn’t end up so well, there have been lots of strikes by the whole taxi lobby, also with more than one acts of violence.
    I’m fully convinced that the whole Uber concept, based on the disruptive way no matter what, It’s the thing that allowed it to penetrate SV style so many countries in a raw in such a complex and established market in such a short amount of time; plus, doing it the right way would have never let him reach the 60 bln $ valuation that it has at the moment, the same you can say for the Airbnb strategy entering the housing market.
    Here is an important interview about this controversy theme from Bozoma Saint John, Uber Chief Branding Officer.
    She has in fact, recently joined the board to take on the challenge to redesign the entire company structure, letting it make it to the future, really nice and detailed interview by Recode, I truly recommend it.
    In the end to sum up, I think that on one hand the aggressive way in which the company has entered in so many market is the very same thing that has led it to his market strength and power, but on the other hand maybe focusing a little bit more on the cultural side would have been better for the brand nowadays, not putting it in such a bad light.

    Concerning the congestion problem, the landscape is very clear, the congestion problem has anything but vanished with the rise of the sharing economy, although things like UberPool going viral could offer a true “fancy” alternative to public transportation systems, actually becoming one.
    But in the end, everyone knows that the aim of those companies, like Lyft and Uber, is obviously not to save the planet but to make tons of money, companies like BlaBlaCar (average 2.8 people per car) are maybe offering something more to increase the number of passengers per trip but I personally think that isn’t enough at all.

    The solution for me? Yes I’m talking one more time about him, the one and only Elon Musk.

    The Boring Company, (more infos and FAQ here) was founded in Hawthorne, California on December 17, 2016, is a company made out of a tweet, for real guys; born from the bored Elon, angry about the huge traffic congestion problem in LA, is quickly becoming the true alternative for the future of transportations.
    The base concept around it is to dig tunnels on different layers underneath the earth surface, that base concept I think it’s truly explained in this amazing TED by Wanis Kabbaj, UPS Director of Global Strategy for Healthcare Logistics, who works at the intersection of biology and transportation.
    Here I think he’s truly trying to communicate the fundamental importance of deeply analyzing how our blood circulates in our 3D veins network, to come up with the real solution for the transportation problem, which by the way I think is just a completely astonishing way to think about such a “boring” and “flat” subject as the traffic one

    Can wait for hear your ideas and thoughts about that, bye guys!

    Luca Baldessarini.

    Lorenzo Stevenazzi
    Participant
    @l-stevenazzi
    #2164

    Hi everyone and thank you Stefania for giving us new topics to think about!

    Paolo told us something about the ESADE SVST you would take part to and I think it has been an awesome opportunity for these students’ education and career improvement.

    BlaBlaCar and Uber are trying to solve two different problems, as the way they arose shows. The first one was developed from the idea of a Stanford student, NASA researcher and PhD in Physics, Frédéric Mazzella, who needed a lift to reach his family in France on Christmas day in 2006 but couldn’t find any train tickets or taxies. The second one, Uber, came from the convenience of hailing a cab by using an app. Travis Kalanick, computer engineer, and Garrett Camp, founder of StumbleUpon, had, in fact, troubles to get a ride on a Paris evening in 2008. For this reason the two companies focus are different.

    As it is explained before, Uber is designed to replace taxi service in a more intuitive way while BlaBlaCar to obviate long distance means of transport absence. An American friend of mine who lives in Atlanta surprised me saying that he likes a lot the Italian transportation network. The latter is, in fact, very spread across the cities, especially in Milan, and not much steps are needed to reach the nearest metro or bus stop. On the contrary, in the US, cities are bigger and sometimes not well serviced by public transport which is not widespread. I think this is one reason why Uber is so popular there. Obviously this isn’t the only one: cheap costs and drivers high availability are two crucial factors of their business. In addition to that, a lot of people, from young to old ones, signed up as Uber drivers to make up their wages. Uber allows people to easily and above all, quickly, get a lift, without wasting time waiting for a taxi. Blablacar is trying to solve the problem of long journeys and its drivers don’t use it to earn money but only to divide trip costs such as gas and tolls while for the Uber driver that could be an additional income. The first one is about saving money, the second one earning them (if you’re the driver). For this reason, Blablacar shows the recommended and the maximum prices you can ask for giving a lift and a driver doesn’t have to pay taxes to take money in this way.

    A solution to the problem of traffic would be pushing Uber drivers only to give lifts when there are no seats left in the car only in crowded cities, so people don’t have to wait a lot of time (otherwise they would take a taxi instead, which leads to the same congestion) as there is a great demand but this might discourage some people. In my opinion uberPOOL tried to solve this problem using an algorithm to unify requests. I’d like to point out what are its main features: a passenger has to go from point A to point B. Another one is at point C which is on the path that connects A to B. The Uber driver receives both the requests and pick them up at the same time, leaving from point A, passing through C and finally reaching B. This process is implemented multiple times as long as there are empty seats in the car, reducing the number of vehicles which are travelling simultaneously. In addition to that, I do think civics courses are needed, especially in the first years of school. That would improve for sure civic sense and a responsible usage of means of transport, mainly the public ones, or an healthy lifestyle (so for example walking short distances instead of riding).

    Regarding to The Boring Company solution, I think it is very innovative but quickly applicable only in new born cities and utopian in others. A tangle of tunnels is required but some cities might have problems while digging, such as the presence of aquifers and old power lines which may not be cut off, although maybe also a small amount of digs could improve traffic issues. I had the opportunity to get to know Arturo Frixa, General Manager Network & Training at Jaguar Land Rover Italia, and his solution to congestion and above all the fact that a owned car spends more then 80% inactively, is car sharing with something more: everyone has a small portable wheel which is used with shared cars that carries all the car settings a driver needs. I think smartphones could be used as “wheels” instead while the actual wheel is stuck on the car. In this way these shared vehicles could easily carry people’s behaviors towards future self driving shared cars, which might improve traffic issues by planning detailed routes to minimise them.

    I agree with Luca that BlaBlaCar should connect long and short distance trips in order to penetrate the US market. In addition to that, BlaBlaCar should take advantages by being promoted by website like Couchsurfing where people can find hosting for free for a short period of time on others’ couches. I know some guys who travelled across Europe and America in this way and especially in the last one, it was difficult to get around because of the lack in transports and BlaBlaCar could fix this, maybe giving discounts away in the first promoting period.

    As it was pointed out in the previous posts, Uber faced difficulties in Italy. It tries to replace standard taxies without considering taxi drivers have their own license to perform this specific service. Its attempt to enter this market in Italy shows that something new is needed to modernise something old like standard taxi service. In my opinion Uber should have given its platform to standard taxi drivers in Italy, only allowing them to sign up as drivers and the Italy government should have simplified the process of getting a taxi driver license and minimised the costs of a lift.

    Thank you for the discussion and waiting for your replies, bye for now!

    Elisa
    Participant
    @elisa
    #2165

    Hi guys! It’s great to hear from you so many different and interesting things, you’re like a database of informations, it’s awesome!

    Well, in my opinion BlaBlaCar is a perfect way to travel economically, to both driver and  travelers and in addition, in my experience, you can meet new people and have very good conversations. Another positive point of BlaBlaCar is that it connects also small villages, because it depends on the driver where he wants to start the journey, or if he wants to pick the travelers up in their own cities. It is a possibility for the countryside to travel, where there is lack of public transportation.

    I think the biggest uber’s problem is that it is expensive. In fact, it costs as a taxi, and so why people should choose it? It is rare  for an italian, i think, to use taxi to move in the city, because it is really expensive, but if i have to choose between a taxi or Uber, as italian and in my italian mentality, i will choose the taxi. Why? because a trust what I know and Uber isn’t known as well as a taxi. We are used to see taxis even if we dont use them. New things and new ways of offer services should be well communicated to a conservative public , as the italian one is. I think that the normal thought that comes in mind in an italian person about using Uber is: “ why should I call someone completely unknown to pick me up while I can pay the same bill and be “secure”(also because sometimes Uber never comes)  because taxis service is qualified and guaranteed by the State?”

    The target that Uber should penetrate is the teenager/youth one, because they are more flexible to change, but to make it possible, Uber should be more affordable, maybe by introducing commutation tickets, maybe expanding their travels also in the countryside and not only in big cities..

    we should keep in mind also that there are other apps offering the same service end costing less than Uber..

    I’m looking forward to read your thoughts, guys 🙂

    Luca B.
    Keymaster
    @lucabaldessarini
    #2166

    Hi guys! So happy to read your thoughts about this theme.

    I couldn’t agree more with Lorenzo about the very need of civic courses, because I think that if we can shape more and more over people’s culture around both the traffic and pollution problem, of course alongside with a true alternative solution, we could indeed better preserve our planet on the long term.
    Children from the very first years of school could grow up as planet activists in a truly proactive way, becoming real leaders of tomorrow.
    Here I think, we also have some sort of responsibility towards them and those to come, we therefore need to leave our earth better than we have found it, each one acting as our best to preserve it.

    Secondly, I’d like to point out something more about The Boring Company thing; I’m completely with Lorenzo about the possible issue around the “learning curve” of some cities, the spread of innovation in fact is usually anything but straightforward.
    For some cities will may take a while to plan such a complex and intricate infrastructure, there will be of course lots of problems for example with archaeological digs in Italy-like countries but, don’t we have more than 220km of subways underneath 7 Italian cities? I’m fully convinced that in the name of innovation you can reach anything, and as the congestion problem grows increasingly, as far as I’m concerned, we all must change our minds trying to do our part in order to truly contribute for the common good.

    Regarding the studies around the 3D vascular network in our body, which I’ve already mentioned in my previous message, I really want to listen to your ideas about that, because honestly, I was simply astounded and fascinated picturing out the whole concept in my mind.
    The basic concept behind is very simple because, like Musk once said, we can physically speaking go deeper under the surface than higher above it, on the earth in fact we have mines deeper than our tallest skyscrapers.
    Starting from this point, you can easily consider that “hypothetically” there is no lower limit to dig, and our underground tunnels could be built this way on many different layers. Furthermore, I think that studying both our blood vascular network as well as the ant’s colony infrastructure, which is also charmingly efficient, we can use the power of natural innovation to solve issues that mother earth has already solved some a while back.

    Finally, I just want to say something concerning what Elisa said about Uber costs. Unfortunately of course, the bad light in which the Californian startup was showed up, didn’t helped the whole concept penetrate the Italian market but, at the same time, here I think stands the main problem about his charges.
    Let me be clear, Uber’s proprietary technology is based on a demand and supply algorithm, so whenever you want to go Uber home, your trip costs are calculated over the different requests saturation of the surrounding area.
    Obviously, you can now understand why, like Elisa has rightly observed, in our country take Uber is almost as expansive, if not more, as take a taxi; because not enough people choose it as ordinary transportation system in order to keep prices down.
    As I said before I’m really convinced that people like Bozoma Saint John, Uber’s new Chief Branding Officer, with is overwhelming energy, as well as Dara Khosrowshahi, the new CEO of the company, have in their hands the power to reinvent the company in a completely different way.
    Allowing things like UberX go viral, they could lower down trip charges, becoming by doing so a fully-fledged competitor of taxis in our country; as well as with the UberPool thing, like we’ve discussed with Lorenzo before, sponsoring the program as the true alternative to public transportation, reducing pollution, traffic congestion how even enhancing citizen’s civic duties towards our planet.

    Luca Baldessarini

    Lorenzo Stevenazzi
    Participant
    @l-stevenazzi
    #2175

    Hi everyone, it’s great to have such an engaging discussion although it’s exam period!

    I do think civics is needed as there is a lack of education around these topics. Surely new issues about mobility (together with a responsible use of sensible big data) would arise in the future and we have to take a step forward. In this sense I strongly agree with Luca about the responsibility we have towards new generations.

    Elisa is right about the high costs of a Uber lift despite the uncertain driver’s trustworthiness. I think common sense supplies the latter, as soon as the company lowers prices. When taking a public mean of transport, we can’t trust everyone on it indeed. Another great point of her post I’d like to highlight is the flexibility in changes about transportations. New generations are more likely to change without efforts, but I don’t think older ones are. People who have travelled on their own most of their lives might make habit switch only if the service is very convenient, regarding availability, costs and time-saving.

    Another player in the future transports market is Mathias Thomsen, General Manager at Airbus Urban Air Mobility, presented their concept about new ways of mobility at 2017 Geneva Motor Show. There is also a research partnership with Italdesign to provide a high quality and innovative product. The latter is a shared self driving car whose cabin can be lifted by a drone, aiming to transfer transportation from a 2D level to a 3D system. In this way it reminds of The Boring Company solution to congestion but I think it would be faster applicable (as long as tech progression allows us) than the tunnel diggings in cities that present the problems we we’re talking about previously, among which potential underground archaeological sites. In my opinion only time will show if there is a better solution, but I think that by combining air and ground we could do a better use of the city space, as Wanis Kabbaj of UPS told as well in his TED speech submitted by Luca, being inspired by the circulatory system. Wanis pointed out that we are riding faster and faster cars, but our speed is the same as a carriage because of traffic and this is clearly a problem, as stated by Stefania in her post. In his TED talk he showed the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), reminding me of when I read about this project on Wired some years ago. The idea was, in fact, first presented at the 13th CHITEC (China High-Tech Expo) in 2010. It is still in development alongside the innovative means of transport we are talking about, in a rush to become a player in this sector.

    I would like to thank Luca for the ant colony topic. The latter is pretty an old solution in large movement problems and it was studied at first by Marco Dorigo, professor at the Université Libre in Bruxelles, in 1992, as a combinatorial optimization problem but only now it attracts people from the mobility field. Ants are blind and move because of pheromones left on the ground. If an ant finds a new path, others follow its way. Waze app implemented this system to reduce driving time by tracking users and suggesting them new routes based on the entire traffic, although it is useful only in big cities where a lot of people use it. If you’re interested in, you should read this article written by Tom Vanderbilt, an American journalist that studies traffic-related topics, in a science magazine.

    Referring one last time to air mobility, Uber itself signed a collaboration with NASA, in order to exchange knowledge about Elevate, a new concept of mean of transport very similar to the Airbus one. Furthermore NASA started a project – UTM, which stands for Uncrewed traffic management – in 2015 to regulate drone traffic and Uber would take part in it. In addition to that, Mark Moore, Aeronautical Engineer at Stanford and NASA researcher, would contribute to Elevate as well.
    I wonder what you think about air mobility and if you would use it in future, leaving today’s cars.

    All these new means of transport are very visionary, but Thomas Edison as well, while studying how to produce light bulbs on a large scale, was using an oil lamp.

    Thanking you for the discussion, can’t wait to read you replies. Have a nice day!

    Luca B.
    Keymaster
    @lucabaldessarini
    #2176

    Good morning guys, how you doing? I’m not very well today, let me tell you why.

    This morning, like the last few months going back and forth from Milan, I should’ve taken the train from Verona but, as soon as I turned on the radio, I’ve heard an announcement about a train accident between Brescia and Milano Lambrate and unfortunately it was a really big and serious one.

    The next few trains have been either cancelled or delayed. I started writing this at Bologna Centrale as our train had to go through the “long” way in order to reach the city of Milan, and now finishing up to write this I truly want to share with you my reflections and thoughts about this long and complex morning; so forgive me for interrupting the chat but I think that’s very much indeed and also on topic. I’ll be honest with you, I’m quite in a bad mood since the thing happened, some people died others have been seriously injured, most of them were commuter.
    Travelling towards Bologna there was this little boy around 1 or 2 years of age sat in front of me, obviously he was anything but worried or scared and nobody could have ever scratch his magical little dreamy world. He didn’t have any clue about what was happening, of course, but at some point looking at it I realised that baby, among with other billions ones, will be the future of our species; that sincerely made me think, and all the civic topic we’ve been talking about with Lorenzo some messages ago, all came back to me.

    Technology it’s the future, but as we saw today, only managing it at its best we will enable humanity to progress, and prevent those types of disaster. Money need to be spent on true innovation, politicians have to open their eyes and start doing something that really matters. We need to implement innovation fast heading to the future, in order to ensure safer and safer means of transportation and prevent bad events such as today’s to happen.
    Ideas like driverless vehicles, whether on the road or in the air, like Lorenzo perfectly pointed out about AirBus and Elevate, in my opinion they truthfully can save lives on the long term. Having each car or drone perfectly and autonomously aware about everyone else vehicle’s position, could lead to an exponentially decreasing in accidents rate. Hyperloop-like concepts, besides saving us some time, could for sure increase safety on our trips. Because for example, an Hyperloop pod can’t even actually derail, he has no air resistance traveling at 1000 km/h into the vacuum-packed tube so it won’t even touch the tunnel floor.
    I know that is not that simple, but we need to avoid thinking that obviously everything will work fine and everything will improve by itself like it’s always happened. We have I think some sort of responsibility here, like I said before, towards our kids, our world and our kind; An obligation to keep moving forward, to think about solutions as a community of creators, of dreamers and doers. I know it may sounds utopian and idealistic but that’s the future I want to live in.

    I love so much this quote about this theme and I want to share it with you in the end of this strange day.

     “People are mistaken when they think that technology just automatically improves. It does not automatically improve. It only improves if a lot of people work very hard to make it better, and actually it will, I think, by itself degrade, actually”

    – Elon Musk.

    I’m so sorry again for interrupting with this sort of personal reflection with you but I think that was pretty necessary, can’t wait for yours replies Elisa and others, really.

    Luca Baldessarini

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