Modeling Data as a Scarce Resource
Can data , in its abstract form, be modeled as a scarce resource?
If we look over time, the amount of data humanity was collecting increased continuously. From taxation information, going through birth certificates, credit history, and employment status. In more recent times, we all got used to storing data in small physical form-factors until the point we can't even see where the data is stored.
Data has many different origins, in the same way as oil can come from different types of wells. Developing new technologies can untap idle resources. For example, tracking scripts helped accumulate data on user behavior online. Social networks untapped access to data on relationships and individual preferences.
Harvesting data from online activity was the first step, in pretty much the same way conventional oil worked well for decades. But companies also entered into the real world. Google and Apple harvest massive amount of information including where you are, how you commute, how often do you exercise, what path you followed to reach a shop.
And still, there are plenty of data sources that are sitting idle. An example is what Neuralink wants to achieve by harvesting the information in the human brain directly, without a screen interface. Facebook is aiming in the same direction through a different path:
In the future, our AR glasses will merge the physical and digital worlds, blending what’s real with what’s possible, resulting in the next mainstream, must-have, wearable consumer technology.
My prediction is that as data becomes scarce, its value should increase. With the caveat that scarcity in this context does not mean that is not available, but that it does not generate a competitive advantage. If we all share the same data pool, only those with unconventional sources will have an edge. And regulation means there will be white and black markets for data. Data Taxation will generate free havens for the exchange of information.
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