“What is essential in the transitional period is not the fact that technical progress causes disruptions (…) but that it constantly changes the individual.”1
Without forgetting the trade in manufactured goods and raw materials that marked the 20th Century, economic exchange is including more and more services and data flows, and intangible values such as software or brands. Today, exchange is no longer bulky; it relies very much on abstractions, intellectual property, financial products and, more recently, cyber-currencies. Transactions increasingly focus on intangible values; and less on tangible products that have represented wealth and temporal power for so many generations: gold, silver, land, printed bonds or bearer shares. Previous chapters illustrated the variety and rapid growth of this new category of transactions, often on a global scale. This change goes beyond what we could have anticipated 40 years ago, when we began to become aware of computerization and its consequences on the organization of society. Production, trade and creation change form and purpose; this phenomenon, described as a “new economy” for several years, is illustrated by fairly recent but already global companies such as Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft. Through contagion or imitation, other digital giants like Alibaba and Baidu, which were developed in the Far East, also symbolize the recent reign of platforms.
Driven by the ...