Responding to digitalization: enabling greater personal data portability
I'll preface this post with a mini-notice: conversations about "which industries" will be disrupted by "intelligent machines" first are among the more futile conversations that we are sometimes forced to have. They seem to be often informed by little more than anxiety and guesswork based on whatever essay or article about automation one happens to have read last week and guided by a presumption that jobs that are done by humans today should be done by humans tomorrow.
Reports are – sometimes! – a little better than futuristic essays, so here are a few points from the Unlocking digital competition Report, because it seems useful to note what types of changes some experts see as most relevant. It was published by the UK Treasury, and marketed as: "An independent report on the state of competition in digital markets, with proposals to boost competition and innovation for the benefit of consumers and businesses."
The experts could be off target in their predictions but they have spent a lot of time thinking about the issues and they can offer an informative perspective.
the Panel is recommending the establishment of a digital markets unit ... the digital markets unit would be charged with enabling greater personal data mobility and systems with open standards where these tools will increase competition and consumer choice.
In many cases, digital markets are subject to ‘tipping’ in which a winner will
take most of the market. Digital markets vary greatly so no general rules
apply to all of them. But in many cases tipping can occur once a certain scale
is reached, driven by a combination of economies of scale and scope;
network externalities whether on the side of the consumer or seller;
integration of products, services and hardware; behavioural limitations on
the part of consumers for whom defaults and prominence are very
important; difficulty in raising capital; and the importance of brands.
The digital economy is creating substantial benefits. The digital economy has benefited consumers by creating entirely new categories of products and services. Many of these products and services are high-quality with low prices, in many cases a monetary price of zero.
On page 50, the report identifies the following as challenges:
On the positive side, the authors state AI has the potential to:
The Panel has concluded through its review that while digital markets provide considerable benefits for consumers, a number of digital markets are dominated by one or two powerful platform companies, and that this
dominance is persistent. ...
... A small number of large digital companies occupy strategically important
gateway positions in digital markets, wielding significant bargaining power
over their business users as a result.