How the digital economy fuels new quality productive forces

Chinese Social Sciences Today

Internet of Things Photo: Tierney/TUCHONG

At present, as the new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation accelerates, developing new productive forces has become the essential path to stimulate the endogenous dynamics of socioeconomic development. As a vital field in the new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation, the digital economy can facilitate breakthroughs in key technologies, bring about qualitative changes, promote a significant increase in total factor productivity, and thereby inject inexhaustible momentum into the development of new quality productive forces.

Accelerating ‘new’ to enhance ‘quality’

The digital economy provides the basis for the renewal of the three factors of productivity. First of all, in the era of the digital economy, workers can more easily acquire new knowledge and learn new skills, continuously improving their qualifications and skill levels. Moreover, the digital economy has spawned a plethora of new occupations, providing workers with ample employment opportunities and development prospects, and cultivating new-type workers equipped with new technologies and new skill sets for the development of new quality productive forces. Secondly, the new generation information technologies such as cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence (AI) enable the intelligent upgrading of the means of labor, leading to more efficient and precise production processes. Under the dynamic adjustment of the means of labor renewal and production process optimization, the digital economy provides iteratively updated means of labor for the development of new quality productive forces. Third, as data becomes a key production factor, the digital economy also promotes cross-border integration and innovative development, blurring industry boundaries and expanding the scope of subjects of labor, thereby providing broader development space for new quality productive forces. Finally, the digital economy continuously updates the three factors of productivity, realizing the innovative allocation and comprehensive optimization combination of higher-quality workers, updated technical means of labor, and a wider range of subjects of labor, thus significantly improving the total factor productivity.

The digital economy provides support for new technologies, new industries and new business forms. First, it offers a wide range of application scenarios and rich data resources for sci-tech development. Second, the digital economy has spawned numerous emerging industries, laying new tracks for the development of new quality productive forces through digital industrialization. At the same time, industrial digitalization accelerates the digital transformation and intelligent upgrading of traditional industries, continuously promoting the optimization and integration of industrial chains, thus continuously unleashing the development potential of new quality productive forces. Third, with data-driven R&D and innovation, the integration and application of digital technologies, the promotion and popularization of digital platforms, and the digital collaboration of industrial chains, the underlying logic of digital technologies integrates deeply into various fields, serving as technical support for new industries such as quantum information and brain-inspired intelligence, new models such as virtual production and the Internet of Things, and new driving forces such as original and disruptive technological breakthroughs. It will play a strong role in promoting high-tech fields represented by new energy, new materials, and biotechnology.

The digital economy provides the cornerstone for “quality” advantages. As data becomes a key factor of production, profound changes occur in production modes, shifting from traditional factor-driven to innovation-driven economic development. Through intelligent and automated production methods, the digital economy has improved product accuracy, and has unified large-scale, standardized production and precise and personalized services, accelerating the development of new quality productive forces. At present, the principal contradiction facing Chinese society is that between imbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. With the development of the digital technology and digital platforms, the digital economy can simultaneously achieve the long tail effect and precise control, meeting diversified and personalized needs, and promoting the development of green production and the circular economy. In addition, in the context of increasingly fierce international competition, the digital economy continuously enhances international recognition and brand competitiveness of enterprises by optimizing production processes, precisely profiling users, and strengthening brand building, thus providing solid support for creating “quality” advantages.

Multi-entity cooperation  

 Collaboration from multiple entities drives the development of new quality productive forces. Firstly, leveraging breakthroughs in digital technology enhances the driving force for the development of new quality productive forces. Secondly, focusing on strategic emerging industries creates advantages for the development of new quality productive forces. Thirdly, adopting forward-looking layouts for future industries seizes opportunities for the development of new quality productive forces. Fourthly, prioritizing the cultivation of top-notch innovative talent establishes a solid foundation for the development of new quality productive forces. In terms of talent cultivation, it’s essential to construct a comprehensive talent training system, optimize disciplinary designs, and vigorously cultivate high-end talent who are proficient in modern information technologies and possess both internet and innovative thinking. Fifthly, institutional reforms in the sci-tech innovation system are crucial for bolstering the development of new quality productive forces.

Gai Kaicheng (dean) and Han Wenlong (vice dean) are from the School of Economics at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics.

Edited by ZHAO YUAN