“China’s new global status as a rising technology power”, as the editors of this new study put it, has increasingly engendered alarmed, if not alarmist, rhetoric by Western politicians and commentators. The combined response of Innovation and China’s Global Emergence, a new collection of academic essays that attempts a ground-up review of the issue, might be summarized as “take a breath”.
Most of our discussions about how “technology will change the world” focus on the global cities that drive the world economy. Even when we talk about China, we focus on its major cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Xiaowei Wang corrects this metronormativity in Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China’s Countryside, which explores how rural China is not just adapting the technology used around the world, but innovating on it.
This curious little book by Japanese technologist Ishiguro Hiroshi, now available in a very readable English translation by Tony Gonzalez, nominally discusses what robotics research teaches us about what it means to be human. But one can’t help but be left with the impression that what it really shows is just how different Japan can at times be from other parts of the world.
If there were an award for the best book title, Blockchain Chicken Farm would surely be in running for 2020. Xiaowei Wang leads off this collection of connected essays about technology and society with a story about how the blockchain has been deployed in China’s rural organic chicken farms to provide untamperable provenance for China’s upscale consumers.
Ten years ago, a spate of suicides at Foxconn’s factories in Shenzhen thrust the company into global headlines. These workers, part of a million-strong workforce, were involved in making Apple’s iPhone, the world’s premier status symbol smartphone. While the suicides are now mainly in the past, the issues raised in Dying for an iPhone remain pertinent to China’s labor situation and global manufacturing generally.
Many potential readers of James Griffiths’s new book well have had direct experience of the “Great Firewall of China” of the title. But that doesn’t mean they won’t find the book useful. Griffiths stitches events and issues, most of which are—individually—reasonably well-known, into a coherent narrative. The result is a readable, well-documented history of the internet in China.
With almost 17% year-on-year growth, India’s is the world’s fastest growing smartphone population; more than a billion phones are estimated to be sold over the next five years. There are now more Indians with smartphones than the entire population of the United States, driven by phones that cost as little as 10,000 rupees (US$150).