Airbnb adds Google’s ‘AI ambassador’ to its board of directors

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James Manyika, Google’s head of Research, Technology and Society

Demetrius Philip | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Airbnb is adding James Manyika, Google’s “AI ambassador,” to its board of directors, the company said Monday.

Manyika’s addition underscores CEO Brian Chesky’s ambitions in artificial intelligence, which Chesky has said will radically change the Airbnb platform by 2024.

As Google’s head of Research, Technology and Society, Manyika reports to CEO Sundar Pichai and focuses on how tech affects user’s daily lives. Increasingly, that encompasses the company’s AI research and products. Manyika is also a vice chair of the National AI Advisory Committee, the federal panel that develops strategies for AI regulation, and senior partner emeritus at McKinsey & Company.

In early August, Chesky said on the Airbnb earnings call that generative AI has the ability to create an entirely new interface for the platform, based on personalization. He wants the company’s integration of the new technology to result in more than a chatbot.

“Our app can almost be like an AI concierge that can match you to local experiences, local homes, local places all over the world,” Chesky told analysts.

With Manyika on the board, Chesky gains a powerful voice that sits at the intersection of AI and society. Manyika is the ninth board member and takes the place of Belinda Johnson, who did not seek reelection earlier this year.

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