The new world order is driven by data, not politics

by Mary Fagioli

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Source: Freepik

A new world order is starting to take shape, especially since the United States escaped from Afghanistan. The current Ukrainian crisis is part of Russia and China’s plan to reduce American power.

Over the past century, China has become the world's largest economy. President Xi Jinping has been feeding the Chinese ever-changing dream since 2013. This dream is also the slogan of the country’s ideology, based on the concept of ​​supremacy.

China’s rising influence

Being first in the world means being first in everything according to Colonel Liu Mingfu, a Professor at Peking University and author of The China Dream. The representation of political power is coloured with nationalism but loses an important moral glue, previously represented by Confucius. In post-Maoist China, the dream is nothing but an empty container for new values to be created, currently made of materialist rhetoric.

While China aims to reduce the United States to an Atlantic power, thus freeing the Pacific line, Russia has a hybrid mentality, halfway between East and West, and aims to become a superpower.

The vacuum of power that has been left in Afghanistan has exposed some weaknesses in the UN and EU, and opened up the possibility of an invasion of Ukraine by Russia and Taiwan by China.

Liberal democracies are faltering

The V-Dem Institute has produced a report that shows in 2019 54% of the world population are living in an autocratic regime.

In that same year, Orban's Hungary became the first autocracy in Europe and in just one decade eight democracies from the world disappeared.

Less liberalism, and more autocracy, leads naturally to greater control over the press, therefore more restrictive policies towards the media.

Meanwhile, today's race for political power tends more and more to polarization.

Data is the new oil

While liberalism disappears, and politics continue to polarise, technology is responsible for changing the world very rapidly.

The more and more interconnected people are, the more they live in a cloud.

Each purchase, each public and private movement is controlled, and services are tailored to our needs. Identifiable individuals belong to digital identities and consumer profiles.

The application of targeting techniques can influence our choices, both in terms of consumption and politics. Data is stored, processed, and exchanged. It is the world of Big Data, invisible traces we leave on the web.

Data is the new oil, in the hands of the "Big Five": Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft. Certainly, a resource that is tempting to many.

To understand how a Big Data-driven world works, it is necessary to define them through the 3Vs: Volume, Velocity, Variety.

Organizations collect data from a variety of sources, which can be smart objects, business transactions, industrial equipment, social media, and more. The flow of data is handled at unprecedented speeds, almost in real-time.

Finally, the data is available in all formats, therefore dates, numbers, text documents, e-mails, stock data, videos, financial transactions, audio, images, and many others. Data is subsequently organized and structured to use and train machine learning algorithms.

These can predict an event before it occurs or correctly interprets a situation.

An example of their potential use is the Trump phenomenon, a New Yorker oligarch of Germanic origin who has become the spokesperson for anti-New York, Southern and Midwestern ideologies. He was able to ride this regional discomfort, although he has deep cultural differences.

After inviting his supporters to return home from the Capitol Hill attack, reiterating the allegations of electoral fraud, he was banned from social networks, “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”. The proper application of data could have predicted such an attack. Furthermore, a type of society or nation could be determined, whether it is oriented towards economic well-being or causes.

In this new perspective of algorithmic efficiency, the world of information is constantly evolving and strongly influenced by the digital transformation innovations taking place.

Digital technologies are constantly updated and newsrooms increasingly need transversal skills for interpreting data. From big data and open data, it is possible to get information, develop stories or conduct surveys.

Power shift West to East

The importance of this data-based progress has growingly shifted the geopolitical centre of gravity to America and China, drastically reducing the leadership of European powers, which turn out to be merely bastions of peace and super-regulators.

Europe shows its weak sense of identity, but also its influential soft power of norms in front of the economic superpowers and its strategic interlocutors worldwide, such as the United States, China, and Russia.

Rise and fall of old and new dreams

Through the strategic use of data, countries work towards global domination. Who governs the data commands Dataland, the heart of the Data Economy.

China has become the largest economy in the world, according to some parameters, and continues to grow. It has invested 260 billion yuan in 5G infrastructure, ruling the world market with its 718,000 base stations currently representing 70% of the total in the globe.

The technology sector has drawn a lot of attention from Beijing over the last few years.

In 2019’s breakthrough year, the Ministry of Industry and Technology began issuing licences and building its own infrastructure, which led to a +19.3% increase from January to November 2021 by Chinese big techs. An ocean away, the United States has progressively moved to a protectionist policy, citing the Huawei case.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the most powerful tech companies have dominated the business landscape even more. A small group of large techs, pharmaceutical, and consumer goods firms has flourished, while small business owners and workers encountered significant difficulties.

According to Oxfam, 17 of the top 25 US corporations, which include Microsoft and Facebook, generated $85bn more profit in 2020 over the previous year. This trend is also an economic model and highlights a great social divide, making us reflect on the role of democratic institutions.

Although the future is only predictable, what is certain is that the control of Dataland may cause conflicts across multiple countries in the future, due to competition over territory and resources and in self-defence against a potential aggressor.

Source: iStockphoto LP

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