Every day, the human race produces more data than we did in the several millennia before the information age. Millions of messages, images, searches, purchases, streams, and downloads every minute. And that is just the active contribution of billions of internet users. It doesn’t count the information passively produced by the countless sensors now dotted around our world, from satellites to cars.

Much of this data is now being harnessed in interesting ways, like Amazon’s efforts to constantly streamline and encourage purchases, Facebook’s microtargeted advertising, or Google’s attempts to build a self driving car. We haven’t as yet created AI, but millions of of autonomous miles have been driven thanks to the immense amount of spacial data that has been collected, crunched with brute force computing.

The reason I bring all this up is because of something I came across this morning, in a (so far) excellent book by Alec Ross, called The Industries of the Future:

“Whereas land was the raw material of the Agricultural Age and iron was the raw material of the Industrial Age, data is the raw material of the Information Age.”

I am only about thirty pages into the book, so I don’t want to extrapolate a lot from this sentence yet. But I am predisposed to agree with this idea. And guess which companies have the best data?