Fuel of the future: Data

Fuel of the future: Data is giving rise to a new economy  | The Economist

1. An oil refinery is an industrial cathedral, a place of power, drama, and dark recesses: ornate cracking towers its gothic pinnacles, flaring gas its stained glass, the stench of hydrocarbons its heady incense.

Data centres, in contrast, offer a less obvious spectacle: windowless grey building that boast no height or ornament, they seem to stretch to infinity.


2.Whether cars, plastics,  or many drugs – without the components of  crude, much of modern life would not exist.

The distillations of data centres, for their parts, power all kinds of online service and, increasingly, the real world as devices become more and more connected.

Date is to this century what oil was to the last one: a driver of growth and change.

Oil is the world’s most traded commodity by value. Date, by contrast, are hardly traded at all, at least not for money.


3. Amazon, an e-commerce giant with a fast growing cloud-computing arm, use trucks pulling shipping containers each packed with storage devices holding 100 petabytes.

Facebook and Google initially used the data they collected from users to target advertising better.  But in rennet years they have discovered that data can be turned into any number of artificial-intelligence or cognitive services.


4. The new economy is more about analysing rapid real-time flows of photos and videos generated by users of social networks, the reams of information produced by commuters on their way to work, the flood of data from hundreds of sensors in a jet engine.

It is often more profitable to generate and use date inside a company than to buy and sell them on an open market.

It adds to confusion about who owns data.

The dearth of data markets will also make it more difficult to solve knotty policy problems. Three stand out: antitrust, privacy and social equity.


data-network effect: use data to attract more users, who then generate more data, which help to improve services, which attracts more users.

learned helplessness: terms and conditions for services are often impenetrable and users have no choice than to accept them.

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