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DiDi, China and the data war




Welcome to the new frontier of the U.S.-China struggle for geopolitical dominance: the struggle for control of the strategic commodity of the future, data.

The latest victim of this battle is Didi, the Chinese Uber

lookalike with 377 million annual active users and 13 million annual active drivers. His agony began shortly after Didi shares began trading in New York City, following an initial public offering of $ 4.4 billion. A little over two weeks later, Chinese authorities sent state security and police officers to Didis’ offices. The official story was that authorities feared that the data Didi users share with the company, including cell phone numbers that in China are linked to their real names and IDs, would be insufficiently protected, especially from prying eyes. indiscreet of foreign investors from Didis. A related crackdown on a series of Chinese companies doing business in the United States has brought down Chinese tech stocks around the world.

Pekins claim that he was only trying to protect the privacy and security of Didis users, however, is patently false.

The real problem is that the Chinese Communists fear that the Americans could do with Chinese data what Beijing does with US data, that is, use it to advance their intelligence objectives.

China’s co-opting of public data by hook or crooks for strategic purposes is exactly why the Trump administration considered banning the popular social media app TikToka for which I vehemently advocated in this column and why the Trump administration is committed to winning the epic battle with Chinese telecommunications. equipment giant Huawei on the future of 5G. Except this time, it is the Chinese authorities, and not their American counterparts, who seem to be worried about who might collect and analyze the data that they would prefer to remain in the hands of the Chinese.

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See fear as a compliment and an undeserved compliment. Our government, including this current administration, is still far behind China in realizing that data has become the new strategic commodity for world domination. It powers our artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, as well as our global markets and financial systems. It determines the efficiency of our health system and medical advances, including the control of COVID. He will control our future transport systems, including driverless cars; it will determine how our governments make decisions and how we defend ourselves.

In short, what coal and steel were for national power in the 19th century; or oil and fossil fuels in the twentieth century; access and control of data will be in the 21st century.

The reason data will determine the fate of nations is very simple: AI. It can take all of this seemingly random and relevant data and extract patterns and relationships that become water for intelligence mills. The proliferation of open data, from weather reports and social media to government and economic statistics, as well as the rapid growth of machine learning (ML) through access to the cloud and improved specialized hardware for ML, means that It’s easier than ever to turn random data into meaningful information with pattern recognition and prediction modeling, the bread and butter of AI. The result is a cohesive picture that can shape strategic and operational plans, and give an antagonist an unseen advantage, sometimes knowing more about his opponent than he knows himself.

In the Chinese case, this ability becomes even more frightening. It is well known that the Communist Party uses AI for social and political engineering, rewarding obedience and punishing dissent before it even happens. Beijing has also learned to export your social credit system to countries that see compliant security and dissent as a threat.

With 5G, the flow of data will become a deluge. These advanced wireless services will move data from more than three million connected devices per square mile, compared to 10,000 per square mile for 4G, including your smartphone and car, photos and emails, almost instantly. .

No wonder China wants its catspaw Huawei to take the lead in bringing 5G to the world and no wonder the United States and its more sane allies want to prevent that from happening.

Giving China the license to collect and extract all of that 5G data will give them a strategic advantage for the rest of the century. Add the possibilities of quantum computing as China’s AI / ML accelerator, and sought a decisive gain for Beijing and its Communist Mandarinate that will be transformational not only for China but for humanity.

A brand new report by my colleague from Hudson, Patrick Cronin, on China’s struggle for total dominance of information, said: In our advanced digital age, data is lighting the way to economic supremacy and the power of information. The United States and its allies must develop a strategy to win the data war and uphold the image of the free flow of information as a sign of freedom, not as a cornerstone of totalitarian control.




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