Social Classes and Political Order in the Age of Data
Our lives are changing today, but what is the single most important factor driving these changes? This question is crucial, because attempting to answer it can guide us to an understanding of the processes that are impacting our societies. The answer will, of course, come from the historians of the future, but there is already no doubt that the advent of data is behind a radical shake-up of our way of living. Monetary assets, infrastructure, equipment, and human labor all allow wealth to be created. Data does too, and it is reasonable to consider a new production factor in this regard: data capital.
This book argues that this new production factor generates innumerable economic opportunities of a nature unthought of a mere twenty years ago. These opportunities have led to the creation of a new social class composed of two subclasses: data workers and data owners. The emergence of this new class repositions existing classes, including the traditional working class and the capitalist class, creating strong divergences that threaten social cohesion.
What can we do to ensure cohesion and the proper functioning of society? The book argues for the establishment of a regulatory framework and the institutions necessary if we are to open data up and, where appropriate, exchange and trade it, all on a global scale. In this regard, the state—today still playing its traditional role of framework setter, and savior when crises loom—can become an active economic player, thus creating wealth for communities.
Georges Kotrotsios has dedicated his professional life to the creation of economic and societal value through the application of high-end technology. He served for more than 16 years as a Vice-President of CSEM, a major Swiss research and innovation center working on microtechnologies and smart digital systems. He serves on the boards of various national and international bodies closely linked to the exploitation of technologies and to related policies. He holds a PhD in Optoelectronics and an MBA in Management of Technology, and is a member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences. His publications include the book Data, New Technologies and Global Imbalances: Beyond the Obvious.
“The handling of actual and future overlapping and interfering crises like climate change, plagues, energy, drinking water and food availability, and global imbalances needs access to relevant and reliable data. The author’s precise analysis of data economy is like a lighthouse in the ocean of data and their responsible and democratic use.”
Professor Hubert Lakner
Former Speaker of the Fraunhofer Microelectronics Association and Director of Fraunhofer IPMS
“At a time where we are experiencing and benefiting from the digital transformation, while observing the emergence of new type of social divides, Georges Kotrotsios’ approach is more than needed. Simply, this book brings fresh eyes to this key societal challenge. It may seem to be too naïve for the experts in social sciences and humanities, but this book is a powerful eye-opener, and leaves us with many insights for further thoughts on how better shape the relationship between “Technology and Society”.”
Professor Yuko Harayama
Former Executive Member of the Council for Science, Cabinet Office of Japan
“This book constitutes a unique basis for reflection that allows us to question both the technologies and our actions. It should encourage us to accompany technological development in an effective, responsible and proactive way in order to respond to society’s expectations and questions.”
Professor Benoit Dubuis
President of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences
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