Author Archives: TBR Team

Commercial Law’s Fear of Electrocution – An Analysis of the Law’s Reluctance to be Energetic in Deeming Energy as a “Good”. Is Change a “Good” Idea?

By Luke Gibbons

It is unquestionable that commercial entities, would not function without energy supply. Further, as Bridge outlines, “there is no doubt that energy…[can be] bought and sold”. (Benjamin’s Sale of Goods,9th.edn.2014). Thus, the fact the judiciary and legislator have failed to clarify whether such constitute “goods” under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980, and therefore, accrue heightened remedial availability than “services”, while providing no definition of “services”, and as White states, no principled reason why this protectionism to goods exists, is abhorrent.(White,Commercial Law,2nd.edn.2012).

It is regrettable that a definition requiring tangibility, from a period when energy was not paramount is stifling jurisprudential and legislative development, as “there are …difficulties attributing to energy … legal qualities of… physical objects”.(n1) Consequently, a multijurisdictional solution has developed, distinguishing “bottled” from “flowing” energy, as held in Bradshaw v Bothe’s Marine[1973]35.DLR.(3d)43, with the former being deemed “goods”. Although unfavourable in an already uncertainty area, it is submitted, such may be necessary. This is contended as Part IV of the 1980 Act only implies “terms” akin to “conditions” implied to sale contracts, if a contract is held to be for supply of services, and following Carroll v An Post National Lottery[1996]1I.R 433, a narrow view of  such is proffered. Thus, one contends, if this distinction was not held, there would arguably be no protection for commercial entities who buy “bottled” energy, as such may not be deemed a service, and also, not be subject to the proposed Consumer Rights Bill 2015.

Further, it is argued, the definition’s impact is exacerbated, as energy is considered a “good” in many Statutes such as, the Consumer Protection Act 2007. In spite of such, one must question, to remedy this arbitrary distinction, is it feasible for energy in general to be deemed a “good” under the 1980 Act, now that “services” are offered protections?

It is arguable, the dearth of cases may warrant maintaining the status quo. Furthermore, it is contended, if energy constituted a “good”, s.35 may be invoked, deeming acceptance by “use”, being an act inconsistent with the seller’s ownership. However, it is noted, as such is expressly subject to s.34(1) allowing for reasonable inspection, and as such allows operation, subsequent to Benstein v Pamson Motors Ltd[1987]2.All.ER.220, the “use” of energy uncovering a “latent defect” for instance, may give rise to more favourable remedies to “buyers”.

Nevertheless, a determination that energy is a “good” may arguably detrimentally effect remedial availability. Currently, in energy being a “service”, implied terms are “innominate terms”, warranting damages or termination depending on the breach’s seriousness, as denoted from Hongkong Fir Shipping v Kaawasaki Kisen Ltd[1962]2Q.B..26. However, it is contended, if deemed a “good”, claims would likely be made under s.11(3) of the 1893 Act, arguing; if some energy was consumed prior to rejection, a partial rejection occurred, and thus, implied conditions would be converted into warranties, with damages being the only remedy. Further, although White requests allowance of partial rejection as in the UK, it is argued, such would not assist as energy would likely be subject to the “commercial unit” exception. Thus, the only solution to this quandary may be “freedom of contract” in allowing such, although as monopolised energy suppliers are often the dominant party, this seems unlikely.

Furthermore, retention of title clauses are hallmarks of sales contracts, as such provide remedies for sellers, when “goods” are sold on credit. Although, White contends such are common where “goods” are consumed before credit periods end, the recent case of PST Energy v OW Bunker Ltd[2016]UKSC23 held, in relation to fuel, one cannot obtain title to something that no longer exists, so it cannot be a transaction with such at its heart. Thus, it is argued, in undermining a key remedy when buyers become insolvent, and a foundation of credit arrangements, this holding encapsulates why deeming energy as “goods” is unworkable.

It is submitted, due to the difficulties outlined, the Sales Law Review Group’s recommendation to hold implied terms for services as “conditions” in legislation should be adopted. Although, it is noted, this may not fully remedy the remedial deficit offered to “services”, such would allow commercial users of differing energy forms, seek relatively equal remedies bringing some homogeneity to the law.

Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace

By Andrés Soto Ramos

Key Points:

  • Importance of diversity in the workplace
  • Diversity and inclusion?
  • Healthier organisational climate:
  • Prevents knowledge inbreeding
  • Enhances employee engagement
  • Encourages open communication

Enough has been said about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In the digital era that we live in, organizations are under heavy scrutiny of society and can face severe brand image damages if they are caught not following inclusive practices.

We can see an example of this in how U.S. companies have been quick to dismiss any situation in which racial profiling or any kind of abuse to minorities has taken place in their establishments, that are often resulting in the termination of the employee that caused the issue. But business should not advocate for inclusiveness only because it is what our society expect, they should also consider the positive impact in the bottom line of fostering diversity and inclusion within their organisations.

What exactly is diversity and inclusion? These two words are often (wrongly) used as synonyms in advertising or company communications, but it is important to remember that they do not have the same meaning. Instead of going into the dictionary definition of each, we can explain these with a simple metaphor that has proven useful to clarify this subject in corporate environments; diversity means that everyone is invited to the party, and inclusion means that everyone will also be invited to dance. Therefore, diversity an inclusion (D&I) in the workplace translates to building a talent pool of individuals from different background, gender, age, creed, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, languages, education, etc; and to nurture an environment in which everyone feels safety in sharing their opinions and that allows them to have access to the same growth opportunities.

While this feels again as an overly romanticised definition that companies can use as a sales pitch, organisations that adopt D&I practices are bound to reap on a wider and more valuable set of benefits that come from a healthier organisational climate:

Prevents knowledge inbreeding

Just as the organisms in an ecosystem have higher disposition to a set of diseases when they share a common gene-pool, organisations that hire and promote individuals from similar backgrounds to management positions are prone to adopt ideas within an identical line of thought, therefore reducing the chance of bad ideas being scrutinised and discussed, and limiting the innovating output.

Enhances employee engagement

Companies around the world invest millions of dollars per year in workshops and teambuilding activities to promote employee satisfaction. But since most modern workers will spend at least a third of their day in their workplaces. Satisfaction and engagement can be also improved by fostering a safe climate in which different opinions are respected and equally taken into consideration. Individuals will show higher attachment towards organisations that genuinely value their contributions.

Encourages open communication

Companies with a diverse workforce that is empowered to openly communicate and share their opinions are most likely to display efficient conflict resolution within their work groups. As well as better problem-solving techniques due to the flexibility that comes with open-mindedness and respect for others’ opinions. In opposition, individuals that feel threatened or judged will refrain from communicating the issues they perceive in their companies due to the fear of being prosecuted by their peers. Consulting data and reports on diversity and inclusion have consistently proven a strong correlation between better financial performance and the adoption of D&I practices. Individuals and managers must not ignore this evidence and advocate for inclusive companies not just because of the positive advertising that can be generated because of this, or simply to follow what can be considered a trend in modern human resources practices. Building a truly inclusive workplace can become a real competitive advantage for organisations, with a direct impact in their climate and overall company performance.

Impact Investing: The Way Ahead?

By Abigail Fernandes

On September 20th and 27th , millions of people took to the streets to strike for climate action. This mass protest was a way of expressing a public sentiment that “Business as usual is no longer an option”. However, Charities and Governments around the world do not have enough capital to meet the challenges faced by the environment. Where then can we find enough capital to help the government tackle this issue? One of the best solutions to this ever-existing crisis is “Impact Investing’. The term was coined more than a decade ago but begun to gain momentum only since the last year. It refers to an agreement entered into by entrepreneurs, companies, organisations and philanthropists to invest in markets that create a social or environmental impact and generate returns. This in turn creates a win-win situation for the environment and the investors at large.

Why Impact Investing Now?

The benefits of Impact Investing are manifold. The future of human beings and the environment are interdependent. The temperatures of our planet are rising, and the icebergs are melting and the on area that is bound to get impacted is our ‘Big Businesses’. As rational beings we need to have a strong compulsion to protect our dying planet that has so much to offer. Impact Investing ensures that businesses are held accountable for the activities undertaken. Institutional Investors can see to it that the companies that they invest in are minimising risks and maximising opportunities that are presented by climate change. Thus, enabling a cleaner and greener environment. Investing in sectors like solar energy and wind power can put an end to the use of fossil fuels and help companies find new efficient ways of meeting the energy needs of the society. A greener future can be good not only for the planet that we live in but also to our wallets. A 2018 study by GIIN found that more than 90% of impact investors reported that their investments were meeting or surpassing their projections.

Growth Avenues for Impact Investing

With the growth of Impact Investments rapidly increasing, some of the best options for impact investing are iShares Global Clean Energy ETF, First Trust ISE Global Wind Energy Index Fund, Gree Mutual Funds like Amundi, Calvert Green Bond Fund, Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth Fund. These investments have a proven track record of positive returns while being beneficial to the society. The growth in these avenues is only going to increase as people now have the option of investing in hedge funds, private foundations, banks, pension funds, and other fund managers. Another way of investing is by adding a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) to one’s impact strategy. An investor gets a multiplier effect on his investments while investing in a DAF. The Fund invests only in companies that create a social impact and then those investments give back up to two to five percent returns to the DAF.

The US municipal finance sector is need of environmental impact bonds as climate change has become very important to protect their community from the bad effects of climate changes. Environmental impact bonds offer a solution to this problem. These securities are municipal bonds that transfer a portion of the risk involved with implementing climate adaptation or mitigation projects from the public agency on to the bondholder.

A good example for this is quoted from an article in The Harvard Business Review regarding a $25 million bond issued by the municipal water board in Washington, D.C. in 2016.The water board used the bond to fund the construction of green infrastructure to manage stormwater runoff and improve water quality. The return to investors is linked to the performance of the funded infrastructure, which allows DC Water to hedge a portion of the risk associated with both constructing green infrastructure and, once it’s in place, how well it works. Investors receive a standard 3.43 percent semi-annual coupon payment throughout the term of the tax-exempt bond. Towards the end of a five-year term – at the mandatory tender date – the reduction in stormwater runoff resulting from the green infrastructure is used to calculate and assign an additional payment If the results are strong (defined in three tiers; tier 1 being best performance) the investors receive an additional payment ($3.3 million) – bringing their interest rate effectively to 5.8 percent. If the results are as expected, there is no additional payment. And if the infrastructure underperforms, the investors owe a payment to DC Water ($3.3 million) – bringing the interest rate to 0.8 percent.

The Verdict

Impact Investing is and will be the future. However, investors should choose not to invest in companies that have a negative impact on the environment. The more investors give importance to impact investing, the better companies with a mission of environmental sustainability will perform. Hopefully this should encourage more and more environmental conscious investors to grow their investments and improve the world in one motion. Thus, rewarding businesses for their commitment to a higher calling.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Agricultural Industry

By Jan Keim

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its subsets, such as Machine Learning (ML), are among the most heavily discussed technologies, both in academia and in business. AI is predicted to fundamentally disrupt many areas of business, from cybersecurity to supply chain management. In fact, most people interact with some sort of AI on a regular basis, for example when using a chatbot or filtering emails. A 2018 study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimates a worldwide Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth by up to 14% by 2030 as a result of accelerated use of AI, with China growing its GDP by up to 26%, compared to Northern Europe with an expected growth of 9.9% and North America with 14.5%. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forecasts a strong impact of AI, especially on manufacturing, with the potential creation of entirely new industries. The digitalisation of industry, commonly referred to as “Industry 4.0”, is a prime example of rapid change driven by AI. Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, cloud computing, augmented reality (AR) and 3D printing underpin this process and may lead to the transformation of manufacturing into “a single cyber-physical system in which digital technology, internet and production are merged in one”, as the European Parliament Research Service puts it.

While AI certainly has tremendous potential to transform manufacturing, one industry that is less talked about in this context is agriculture, even though the agriculture industry is among the most relevant to populations’ daily lives. There are various applications of AI in agriculture already. However, most of these applications are limited to bigger farms, currently neglecting smallholder farmers. Three areas of application of AI in agriculture are outlined below:

Precision Agriculture

Precision agriculture refers to the observation, measurement and responses to variability in crops, fields and animals. By using AI to increase crop yields and animal performance, precision agriculture can reduce costs and optimise processes. For example, Blue River Technology, a U.S. based start-up that has been acquired by tractor giant John Deere in 2017, uses computer vision and AI to precisely apply herbicides, instead of spraying entire fields. This approach not only saves money, it also decreases the environmental impact of plant protection products by eliminating up to 90% of the herbicide volumes.

Field Monitoring & Harvest Forecasting

Analysing the current condition of fields has long been a labour-intensive challenge for farmers. By analysing drone and satellite pictures using AI, farmers are now able to receive accurate data on their fields’ condition, vegetation issues and problem areas. For instance, IBM’s Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture provides farmers with tools that alert them should there be threats from weather forecasts, soil conditions, evapotranspiration rates, or crop stress. This helps farmers improve crop protection and optimise crop yields, for example. Ultimately, field monitoring helps farmers estimate their agricultural yield and plan security measures accordingly.

Process Automation

The United Nations (UN) predicts that by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. This will lead to a decrease in labour force in rural areas. By automating processes, easier risk identification, faster decision making and remote operations, AI can significantly reduce the need for labour in the agriculture industry and decrease labour costs.

While there are many benefits to using AI in agriculture, there are a few challenges that have to be taken into consideration while moving towards a more automated and AI-enhanced future. Firstly, many applications of AI, or digitalisation more generally, can be cost intensive, require technological knowledge and demand special infrastructure. While big farms can largely benefit from AI applications, smallholder farmers may be left behind. Hence, ensuring that smallholder farmers equally benefit from the technological progress is a crucial task for politics and science alike. Secondly, the AI-supported automation of agricultural processes tends to benefit countries with large farmlands, such as the United States, Germany or France. Yet, many smaller countries are dependent on agriculture, such as Togo, Sierra Leone or Guinea-Bissau. So far, trade barriers have helped some smaller countries to protect their agricultural sector. However, the advancing globalisation and increasing international trade may exacerbate such policy, which could endanger smaller countries’ agriculture. Thirdly, the technological development in agriculture tends to benefit developed countries. High wages in developed countries create a strong incentive to automate processes and thereby save labour costs. In developing countries with lower wages, this incentive is weaker. According to a discussion paper by McKinsey & Company, the automation could bring back production from poorer countries to developed countries, which would likely increase the lead of developed countries over developing countries.

AI can help farmers tackle some of the most pressing problems they face today. Therefore, the steady adoption of AI will most likely continue and ultimately become mainstream. However, to ensure a level playing field, policymakers, scientists and innovators need to make sure that neither smallholder farmers nor entire developing countries are left behind.

Impending Fiscal Gloom: Halloween’s Horror Story

By Peter Benson

The writing’s on the wall.

Warning signs of another global recession are seemingly ubiquitous, but it’s easy to dismiss them as just more meaningless bad news. Unfortunately, we may be feeling the combined effects of this bad news sooner than we think, perhaps even by the end of 2020.

What signs am I talking about? Let me explain:

The Inverted Yield Curve

You may not have heard, but in December 2018, part of the U.S. Treasury’s yield curve (5 year – 2 year yield spread) inverted for the first time in nearly a decade. The yield curve is a graph that plots the interest rates of similar bonds with varying times to maturity. Put simply, the yield curve mirrors the outlook of investors on future economic prospects. If it’s curving upward, it means they expect long-term economic growth. If it inverts (curves downward), which it did, it means that the summer holiday you just booked may be in jeopardy. Find out more on that here.

A yield curve inversion is regarded widely as being positively correlated with a recession. The yield curve on 10 year – 2 year yield spreads inverted on 14th August 2019, and the last time it inverted in this fashion was in 2007. According to Reuters, an inversion has predated every recession in the past 50 years, offering a false signal just once in that time. It has previously taken up to 24 months for a recession to follow a yield curve inversion, so perhaps we still have time to wait. Time is ticking on that deadline, however, and all should be revealed by December 2020.

It is worth mentioning that a yield curve inversion should not be taken as gospel in and of itself. Some suggest that the data is skewed because of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s wholesale purchase of bonds to retain their balance sheet, and that the economy rarely moves in ‘lock-step’ with the stock market.

Who knows? Maybe our bank accounts will soon take a hit. Maybe they won’t. But the yield curve’s latest inversion, the strongest metric by which a recession can be predicted, simply cannot be ignored. At the very least, it serves as a wake-up call that it may be time we took a second look at our finances.

Brexit

You get the idea.

The European economic fall-out from a no-deal Brexit is as yet unknown but seemingly unquantifiable.

KPMG forecast that a no-deal outcome could shrink the British economy by 1.5%. A mere 1.5% drop isn’t too bad, right? Wrong. With a GDP that is valued to be in excess of $2.6tn, a 1.5% shrinkage of the UK’s economy would equate roughly to a loss of $39bn. To put that figure into perspective, the GDP of Latvia is estimated to be in the ballpark of $39bn.

That’s not to mention the repercussions of such an outcome on the Irish economy, and the knock-on effects globally. Ireland has traditionally relied heavily on the UK for exports, and although this reliance has eased somewhat in recent years, 9% of our total exports are still to our nearest neighbours. This is notwithstanding the World Trade Organisation’s latest ruling that has paved the way for a fresh round of U.S. tariffs on EU goods to the tune of $7.5bn.

Granted, this is a worst-case scenario. Recent legislation in the form of the ‘Benn-Act’ provides us with some solace. This Act forces the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to advocate for an extension on the October 31st deadline if Brussels is dissatisfied with whatever deal is proposed. However, loopholes in this legislation have already been identified, and Johnson’s comments at the latest Tory conference that Britain will leave the EU ‘come what may’ paint a foreboding picture.

Perhaps it’s fitting that our fate may be sealed on Halloween. I, for one, will be dressing up as the world’s most recent judicial champion, Lady Hale.

Everything Else

  • The escalating trade war between the U.S. and China is not expected to end anytime soon;
  • Did you know Japan and South Korea are also embroiled in a trade war with global economic implications?
  • The over-valuation of housing isn’t just a problem in Ireland; there’s a global property bubble, the bursting of which could prove disastrous;
  • This week, sharp falls were recorded in the Asian, U.S., and European markets, signalling that a recession may well be due;
  • The result of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election could inject even more volatility into an already fracturing global market.

So there you have it.

Financial and economic warning lights are flashing, and if I were a government economist I’d be shaking in my boots.

What would another global financial crisis look like as we approach the end of the decade? In light of recent calls for a lower intake of domestic students, and without increased government funding, what would be the impact on Trinity? Would more cuts be implemented, or would our focus shift to further commercialisation? How would a country only recently getting back on its feet after years of economic turmoil, but still wildly indebted, fare in future?

My message is this: there is a strong possibility of another global economic downturn occurring within the next 15 months. Rather than rest on our laurels, here are some things we can do to prepare ourselves financially. They won’t provide us with total financial security, but they may soften the inevitable blow.

There are still a lot of variables at play, particularly in relation to Brexit, that may bring with them a slightly more positive outlook.

What’s certain, however, is that the hum of our global economy is slowing, and our ears must be pricked toward it. The writing on the wall is thickening, and thus we must read it.

The Network Effect

By Brid O’Donnell

Key Points:

  • Be Brave
  • Prioritize Questions
  • Know when to move on
  • What’s next
  • Execute the follow up

Networking is hard, but necessary to be successful in the business world. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind as you begin your networking journey.

  1. Be Brave

Networking can sometimes feel like a game of luck, at a certain event, you may meet strangers who you can develop into good friends and allies or else you don’t. However, you can increase your luck by putting yourself out there as much as possible. Regularly try something new and be curious. That can be intimidating and challenging, but a good networker is continuously expanding their networks and leaving their silo. Thus you must put yourself in new situations, and you need to be ready to make the first move, a lot.

In the same thread as being brave, be the person who introduces people. Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships; you must ask yourself what you can give, as opposed to thinking about what you want out of this connection. Often the answer to what you can give the other person is connections to new people as everyone needs a hand at networking. By bringing people together, you not only help other people network, but you are also signalling to those around you that you are a leader and creates a good reputation for yourself.

  • Prioritize questions, not stories

Everyone has stories that they enjoy telling. It is fair to say that you need to know your own story, aka your elevator pitch; the 60-second round-up of who you are, what you do, and why you do it. It’s important to make sure you get exposure and make yourself memorable and interesting. Thus you should prepare your story in advance and be ready to say. However, it should be brief and quick. After you make that introduction, the focus of the conversation should not be on you, but everyone else and the best way to achieve that is by asking questions.

Therefore, along with preparing your own story, you should also have a good list of go-to questions; broad, open-ended questions that help develop the conversation further. They are useful to fall back on when you are jumping into the deep end with someone completely new. However, don’t treat these questions like a checklist. Think of questions on the go, adapting to how the conversation unfolds. This shows that you are an active listener, which is a vital skill in networking.

  • Know when to move on

It often gets overlooked, but at a busy reception, it is easy to get end up in a conversation that has received its full potential; however, you feel too awkward to end the conversation. Don’t be afraid to shake their hands and say “Thank you for your time; It was so nice meeting you” or something similarly polite. You don’t need an excuse like I need to go to the bathroom, you need to acknowledge that you enjoyed the conversation and leave. If you are feeling like the conversation is nearing its natural end, the other person most likely feels the same way and appreciate the chance to start other conversations.

  • Next Steps

Introducing yourself to someone and having a chat isn’t enough to consider them a connection. Even adding them on Facebook or LinkedIn isn’t enough. You need to recall and formalize. I’m forgetful, especially when it comes to exact details, and the best advice I have ever received is to get a contact book or rather a personal CRM. Of course, you should take note of the person’s name, organization, background and contact details but don’t forget the small things. If you spoke about a certain topic or the person has a particular interest, include it. Even the stuff which seems irrelevant, like if someone mentions that they are a fan of Arsenal, remember that. Later on, when you reconnect, your contact will appreciate you remembering the small irrelevant things. There are many CRM apps out there you can use, but a well-designed spreadsheet could also suffice.

  • Execute the Follow-Up

The last step to networking is the follow-up. Emailing or reaching out to a new contact on LinkedIn soon after your first meeting can reenforce your first introduction and creates a new channel of contact. Use this opportunity to thank the person and show your appreciation and delight at meeting them. A specific thank you to someone can create a lot of goodwill and don’t be subtle about it. Finally, remember to keep your word and be thoughtful. If you said you would check something for them, follow through. This shows that you are reliable and quickly builds trust. As for being thoughtful, don’t be shy about sending people articles or clips that you think will interest them. This stage of networking can quickly become relationship-managing, and it can seem slow going, but networking is about continuous efforts that lead to future successes.

If you are interested in developing your networking skills further, Trinity graduate Kingsley Aikins has established The Networking Institute (www.thenetworkinginstitute.com) and has worked with major global corporates in finance, accounting and consultancy as well as governments and non-profit. Visit the website to pick up even more tips and advice on networking!

Data – The World’s Most Valuable Resource?

By Luz Cuentas

Origin

It is strange to think that this notion was first proposed in 2006. At the time, the exponential growth of social media as an integral part of many people’s lives across the world was at its infant stage. Yet this is what British mathematician Clive Humby remarked when he said that “Data is the new oil.” It is worth noting that this idea only really became more widespread and a popular source for debate when The Economist released an article in May 2017 called “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.” The question resurged again this year following the premiere of Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim’s documentary film “The Great Hack” at Sundance Film Festival. “The Great Hack” is centred around the 2018 Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal. Its subsequent rave reviews by critics resulted in the release of their documentary on streaming giant Netflix in July which gained this notion even more exposure to a global audience. Ring the alarm bells, your personal information has now replaced oil as the world’s most valuable resource. Or has it really?

Oil as the World’s Most Valuable Resource

Just over a century ago, oil was undoubtedly the world’s most valuable commodity – and with good reason too. Global crude production of oil was at its highest at the start of the 20th century since its emergence in the mid 19th century. However, it was only after the 1950s that oil emerged as the global powerhouse of energy supply, replacing its predecessor, coal. Taking the example of the American oil market in the 1880s, the implementation and subsequent rise of managerial capitalism as a way of structuring the business by John D. Rockefeller and 39 other allied companies owned by his associates led to the establishment of the Standard Oil Trust. This resulted in the Standard Oil Trust controlling almost 90% of the kerosene produced in the United States – one of the earliest examples of modern monopolies. The economies of scale generated by Rockefeller and his partners led to oil overhauling coal as the primary source of energy powering the United States. This example soon occurred in many other countries worldwide. Coal was replaced by oil as the world’s most valuable commodity because oil became much cheaper and more accessible than coal despite both of them being finite.

The Rise of Data

So, where does data come into all of this? Well, oil seems to be running into the same problems that its predecessor, coal ran into at the turn of the 20th century. The argument for data becoming more valuable than oil as a resource is not as ludicrous now as it was in 2006. Why? Oil is of course finite too. Many would argue that data is also much cheaper and more accessible now than ever before. Most of us hand in our personal details and information to “The Big Five” technology giants Alphabet (parent company of Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft on a daily basis. We can also access all of these websites, software services and social media platforms for “free”. Likewise, these technology giants can also access our personal data and possibly more for “free”. Hence, this argument is definitely more valid and logical now more than ever. “The difference between oil and data is that the product of oil does not generate more oil (unfortunately), whereas the product of data (self-driving cars, drones, wearables, etc) will generate more data (where do you normally drive, how fast/well you drive, who is with you, etc).” This remark was made by Piero Scaruffi, author of “A History of Silicon Valley” in 2016. Hence this leads us to the conclusion that unlike coal and oil, data are not finite.

Data reserves will not run out the same way an oil reserve will because the human population will undoubtedly keep growing. This of course leads to an infinite source of data from future generations. Our data is also much cheaper and easier to access now as seen in “The Great Hack” with the 2018 Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal. So our vulnerability to have our political views influenced and potentially changed using these “The Big Five” technology giants is potentially at its maximum threat level. Can a monetary value be placed on such a concept? Maybe not but all of these arguments pave the way for the proposal of data being the world’s most valuable resource as a very convincing notion.