The data factor's dual attribute and its interaction effects
Data has become a factor of production. This occurs when history enters the era of big data, in which technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and blockchain are used to collect, manipulate, mine and process data. Data is a special product of labor, a sub-derivative of other production factors.Design/methodology/approachThe data factor has a dual attribute: being physical (technical) and social. The social attribute of the data factor can not only materialize the technical attribute but also amplify it. In other words, the data has a multiplication effect on the allocation efficiency of other production factors. The social attribute of the data is brought out via the technical attribute as the medium. From a technical perspective, this medium is strongly adhesive, and after being bonded with other factors of production, it will only lead to a physical reaction and not change the nature of other factors.FindingsHowever, once these two attributes interact with each other, especially when data is combined with capital, the most adhesive factor in the market economy, a series of new social relations will then be produced based on the technical attribute, resulting in significant adjustments in social relations, involving both positive and negative externalities.Originality/valueTherefore, to get a scientific understanding of the dual attribute and its interaction effects on the data factor, it is necessary to take the following steps. We should promote institutional design that amplifies the positive externality, with a focus on facilitating public data sharing and improving the value of commercial data development. Also, we need to strengthen institutional arrangements that prevent and control the negative externality by emphasizing data supervision based on data types and levels as well as the rule of law.