US: Airbnb has introduced its latest technology that it believes can search the Internet to estimate the likelihood that a potential guest will damage a host’s home.
A Daily Mail story has reported on the company’s ‘trait analyser’ software that will employ artificial intelligence [AI] to identify people ‘associated’ with drugs or alcohol, hate websites or even sex work.
The software does this by scanning keywords, images and video footage across the internet that customers have interacted with to determine how trustworthy they would be as guests, as well as their ‘’behavioural and personality traits’ including ‘conscientiousness and openness’, and standard credit and identity checks.
The update follows the news that property developer Michael Harold is suing Airbnb for £723,000 for a reported £445,000 worth of damage caused when 500 party revellers wrecked his Chelsea mansion that he claimed had been advertised for a family of four on the short-term rental platform.
Meanwhile, The Evening Standard reported that Airbnb has now filed a patent with the European Patent Office to introduce its new technology and ensure that such incidents are not repeated in the future.
One of the purposes of the program will be to scour the Internet for search terms suggesting what it calls ‘neuroticism and involvement in crimes’ and ‘narcissism, machiavellianism or psychopathy’ as they are ‘perceived as untrustworthy’.
The company will make use of the data to predict customers’ actions if they decide to book a short-term stay at one of its listed properties to see if they are mutually compatible. At the same time, this information will be cross-referenced with any other accounts and details including social media, employment and education history.
Airbnb’s website, which underlines the fact that every reservation is given a risk score before it is finalised, says: “We use predictive analytics and machine learning to instantly evaluate hundreds of signals that help us flag and investigate suspicious activity before it happens.”
News also emerged this week that Airbnb had acquired background checking startup Trooly, albeit with little fanfare in terms of an announcement, suggesting that Airbnb is making the safety and security of its reservations a priority for the coming year.