10 trends, tech breakthroughs and social movements for the year ahead
10 predictions for 2018 | Nesta

  1. Drones deliver public benefit, not just parcels
  2. Humans and machines will create prize-winning art
  3. The year the internet goes green
  4. Guiding the smart machines
  5. Tech giants race to buy a healthcare provider
  6. SimPolicy: smarter policy through simulation
  7. Regulators wake up to consumer data
  8. The collaborative economy changes direction
  9. The nation state goes virtual
  10. Emotional surveillance goes mainstream
Just in case you wonder how they did it last year… Predictions 2017: How did we do?

Regarding prediction 8:
Disrupting the disruptors: The collaborative economy changes direction
In 2018, collaborative economy workers will start truly collaborative organisations to disrupt the marketplace once again, say Alice Casey and Peter Baeck. 

The new organisations: platform cooperatives
Platform cooperatives connect dispersed resources and workers through the web, offering a collectively governed alternative to the centrally-owned platforms. This affects how revenue flows to workers, and beyond into communities. Workers share ownership, and take a role in governance and allocation of any surplus income generated. Instead of focusing on creating profit for shareholders, a cooperative model focuses on distributing income generated in line with members’ wishes. These innovative organisations are increasing in numbers and testing a range of operating models.

Platform coops offer the following features in contrast to dominant centralised platforms: 

SurplusSurplus funds generated above the operating cost of the organisation are voted on by members – and often shared among them. They may be reinvested in the organisation’s development or in some cases to support agreed causes. There is no one size fits all approach to allocating revenue surplus. Stocksy paid out $200,000 in dividends to its photographer members and offers high royalty rates, turning over $7.9 million. Open technology makes it easier to allocate and distribute income generated in various ways that were previously impractical; digital agency Outlandish uses cobudget to allocate openly; Fairbnb intends to donate surplus to improve the neighbourhoods where rental properties are located. 

Collective governanceMembership models mean that workers can have a say in an organisation’s governance, and multi-stakeholder models such as Fairshares also give others, such as buyers or beneficiaries, a say too. Enabling meaningful members’ input at scale may be tackled in part through using collaborative technology such as Liquid Democracy and Loomio. This could help focus on quality and accountability. 

Alternative growthFederated coops offer a way for technology to be owned centrally, but governed by groups of coops or social value organisations. The marketplace Fairmondo creates units within countries, currently powered by Sharteribe technology. Networks such as Enspiral offer digitally-enabled ways to grow organisations, currently numbering 300 contributors. Decentralised organising offers another way to distribute governance and finance at scale, exploiting blockchain to verify transactions. Commune and Arcade City are experimenting with this in transportation. Resonate music offers a ‘stream to own’ model, which charges you a price per play until you’ve paid for the track. 

Social impactThere is a need to support further experimentation in joining coops with platform technology to address social challenges differently. Increased worker involvement and platform tech offers some promise for social challenges such as adult social care. Inspiration is offered by Buurtzog, a non-profit foundation – though not a coop – it empowers care workers to manage their own workload, focus on quality and take decisions using tech to support this way of working, turning over €280 million. Pioneers include Care and Share Associates, a coop model of social care, and icare, a platform created to manage care data.