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How the Sharing Economy is Changing the World

Over the weekend, Florida State University campus Fellow Kevin Gomez partnered with the Foundation for Economic Education to host a discussion about “How the Sharing Economy is Changing the World.” We were on hand to co-sponsor the event and facilitate a sharing economy speed pitch contest, where students broke off into teams, invented a peer-to-peer business in less than ten minutes and pitched it to a panel of entrepreneurs.

The conference was a success, drawing Florida State students, students from nearby campuses and members of the Tallahassee community. In case you you weren’t able to make it out on Saturday, here’s what you missed:


“Uber drivers are often people looking for better things to do on nights and weekends than sitting on the couch and watching Netflix.” CEO Jeffrey Tucker

As guest blogger Josh Shapiro discussed last week, one of the great things about the sharing economy is that it breaks down the differences between “consumers” and “producers.” Today’s Uber drivers and Airbnb hosts are people just like you and me who see an opportunity to earn some extra money and want to utilize the time that they have to better their income or even help finance their business.

Jeffrey Tucker, CEO of speaks with an iPhone in hand CEO Jeffrey Tucker


“You can go a great distance in preventing the conditions that lead to war by letting people trade.” 

-FEE President Lawrence Reed

The Foundation for Economic Education President Lawrence Reed delivered a presentation on the impact of free trade and free markets. The talk, which Dr. Reed used to deliver to his economics students while teaching at Northwood College in Michigan, illustrated how important breaking down the barriers to international trade is in getting people to understand each other and work together.

Photo of FEE President Lawrence Reed at GenFKD's "How the Sharing Economy is Changing the World"

FEE President Lawrence Reed (right)

What was interesting and immediately obvious from Reed’s presentation was that, while the sharing economy is a new phenomenon, the values that underpin it are not. With the rise of apps and tools that increasingly let us work and trade with our neighbors, peers and other global citizens, the world is becoming more and more interconnected. For more on how the sharing economy is enabling international trade on an unprecedented scale, check out Mike Gorman’s history of the phenomenon from last week.


“People love to punish transactions that they see as unfair.” 

-Doctoral candidate Nikki Sullivan

Nikki Sullivan, a doctoral candidate at Caltech, gave the students in attendance a brief introduction to the application of neuroscience on the study of behavioral economics.

Nikki Sullivan

Prof. Sullivan’s presentation focused on the internal drivers of the sharing economy: why are we predisposed to trust other people? Why are we inherently altruistic, even when we’re punishing others? And what is the role of trust in the sharing economy?

As the Internet-based economy has grown, we’ve increasingly had to place our trust in new means of verifying that the people on the other side of the Internet are who they say they are and have our best interests at heart. Young people, such as the millennial generation, are actually at an advantage when it comes to evaluating the trustworthiness of sellers, products or websites, as the insula response, which helps us evaluate untrustworthy faces, becomes less active as we age.

Other behavioral economics experiments help to show that, while the average consumer is by no means rational, he or she is also unlikely to accept injustice. Interpretations of this so-called “ultimatum game” have been offered the rationale that humans are, while inherently self-interested, also potentially predisposed to working within a free market or cooperative economy.


“Reputation is the currency of trust.”

– The Freeman editor Max Borders

With the assertion that Yelp has done more to help the restaurant business than any amount of advertising or trade associations could hope to do, FEE Content Director Max Borders seized on the importance of reputation within the sharing economy. As online businesses grow and more and more of the business that we conduct is completed without ever speaking with – let alone meeting – buyers or sellers, the importance for reliable measurements of trust has grown.

From eBay’s buyer and seller feedback to Uber’s driver and passenger rating systems, the perception that others have of us have never been more important.

Students brainstorm for GenFKD Dolphin Tank event

Students brainstorm for GenFKD Dolphin Tank event


“The half of knowledge is to know where to find knowledge.”

This quotation can be found over the main entrance of Dodd Hall, the former library at Florida State University and now the housing for the Department of Religion at the university. It was quoted by a member of the Yellow team during the Dolphin Tank presentations.

The quotation stood out as an example of the reason that we founded GenFKD and continue to host events such as this weekend’s. Our goal is to help students understand the world around them and provide them with the resources to go out, follow their passions and learn more.

Was our event on Saturday successful? What do you think about the growth of the sharing economy? Let us know in the comments below or catch up with us on Facebook.



  1. lawrencereed

    March 6, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks, Chris, for coming last Saturday and for this great story! I’m posting it on my Facebook page later this afternoon — Lawrence (Larry) Reed.

    • Chris Sonzogni

      March 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to make the trip to Tallahassee! I hope that everyone enjoyed the conference as much as we did.

      And thank you for sharing. Here’s hoping that we can work together in the near future. — Chris

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