The Big Data Conundrum: More on Data’s Balancing Act

Data laws are being written all over the world to protect consumer privacy; however, that doesn't represent the whole story of the underlining economics of data. Usually, one thinks of data as being fundamentally rivalrous. In the news, we read about how data is the new oil. Currently, competing firms around the world fight for data supremacy whether to spark growth or train the next-gen AI models.

However, Charles I. Jones and Christopher Tonetti, two US economists from Stanford and the National Bureau of Economic Research, argue the opposite, that data is fundamentally non-rival. Take Uber and Lyft as an example, they may theoretically share driving data, and to sell a better service, this would theoretically benefit both companies.  

At its essence, in theory, there's an inherent social value in sharing data. This paper introduces a model that analyzes the potential trade-offs among privacy, competition, and efficiency when considering a market for data.

The pair's main argument is personal control of information is paramount not just to bolster personal privacy, but, more importantly, to make the best use of "non-rival" data to increase productivity and overall economic well-being. This fresh new take on data is a must-read for economists, policymakers, and persons concerned about individual privacy.

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