An Uber check-in at the Bloomberg forum

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Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi and Linda Rottenberg, CEO of Endeavor Global, prior to their panel at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum. Photo Credit: Arnie Weissmann

Heads of state and titans of industry gathered at the Plaza Hotel in New York Wednesday during the United Nations General Assembly for the Bloomberg Global Business Forum. It's become the venue of choice for globalists to congregate and wave the flag for free trade.

Where was travel in all this? Underrepresented, in my opinion. But we did have an opportunity to chat with one familiar face: Dara Khosrowshahi, the former CEO of Expedia who is currently running Uber.

He was on a panel titled "Disrupt to Stabilize: How Youth are Shaping the Economy."

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Calling his drivers "micro-entrepreneurs," he said that the younger drivers he met "are smarter than our algorithms" and that "HI -- human intelligence -- runs circles around AI."

And although those drivers may be replaced by the driverless cars Uber is developing, Khosrowshahi at times sounded as much like a union organizer as a tech chieftain. "The superior entity is the melding of machines and people," he said. "We need more onramps to get people into the workforce, and technology will enable that."
Ideally, he added, Uber drivers could "work on-demand but get all the benefits of full-time work."

In an indirect nod to Uber's reputation for allowing a toxic culture to develop before he arrived, he said, "A reason I came to Uber is that this is a company that can change the world, and part of that mission is based in the workplace. There's a demand for transparency, a level of transparency that companies have not been comfortable with. It can be painful, but it's very healthy for the ecosystem."

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