The digital world relies on data, and no one produces more of it than China’s 1.4 billion internet users. The vast wealth of information these users emit has helped Chinese tech companies become some of the world’s best, and led to speculation that China will inevitably dominate future technologies, such as artificial intelligence. But this is almost certainly mistaken. Data, it turns out, isn’t destiny.
Even in the digital age, data may have a declining utility. Tech companies already have millions of users. To believe that China will have a significant advantage due to its population size requires us to believe that each additional user adds as much to an informational ecosystem as the first one. If that were true, then India — with nearly as many internet users as China — should be just as likely to be the next world leader.
Author: Christopher Balding