Recent Articles:

AI-powered automation will have an ethnic bias

July 30, 2019 Articles, WEF
Kai Chan Distinguished Fellow, INSEAD Innovation and Policy Initiative The Fourth Industrial Revolution, with artificial intelligence (AI) as one of its principal drivers, promises big changes. AI automation is expected to lead to, among other things, large disruptions in the labour market. A 2013 Oxford study estimated that almost half of employment in the US is at risk of computerization. Similarly, a 2017 McKinsey report suggests that by 2030 one-third of work activities could be displaced by automation. Some countries, industries and professions are more susceptible to these risks, which means these changes will lead to redistributive effects. That is, AI is expected to lead to increased economic inequality both across and within countries. But this is not the first time that a technological revolution has threatened jobs and to upend society. The First Industrial Revolution generated similar concerns and was the catalyst of the "Great Divergence" in cross-country incomes; nations that industrialized became rich, while those that did not were left behind. The gap has grown with each successive jump in technological progress. Although AI automation will bring about significant productivity gains for society as a whole, it will nevertheless spawn winners and losers. Economists usually speak of such…

Dîner LangFest: Kai L. Chan

July 19, 2019 Articles, Media / Op-ed
The below is an interview I did with the LangFest organisers. Le dessous est mon interview avec les organisateurs du LangFest. #LangFest19 #LangFestConferenciers Кай Л. Чан

Measuring mobility

July 10, 2019 Articles, Letters
A letter to the Princeton Alumni Weekly (PAW). July 10, 2019 (Volume 119, Number 15) The article on economic mobility (Life of the Mind, May 15) seems to confuse economic mobility with economic growth. Most economists measure economic mobility as intergenerational movement along the income-distribution ladder (rather than by absolute incomes). That is, to what extent do offspring track their parents’ position on the income distribution ladder at similar age profiles. The fact that 90 percent of children born in 1940 ended up earning more money than their parents was a result of a post-war economic boom whose gains were broad across the population. That only 50 percent of those born in the 1980s earn more than their parents is largely because median income has stagnated since about 1980 in spite of growth in average income, due to increasing income inequality; i.e. growth has been mostly captured by the elite. Yes, economic mobility is lower now than before, but this is expressed through what economists call the income beta: how well an offspring’s position in income distribution is predicted by their parents’ standing. A higher beta (lower mobility) — what we see now relative to the past — means (broadly…

The 10 Best Languages for Business

July 7, 2019 Articles, Media / Op-ed
Savvy business owners understand that there is a multitude of opportunities in targeting foreign audiences. After all, native English speakers only make up 4.9% of the global population. But translation strategy is more than producing your content in various languages and sending it out to the world in hopes of attracting new audiences. A plan for prioritizing the languages you target will lead to quicker returns and better efficiency. First, if your research shows that you have a strong demand in specific locales but haven’t yet translated your content for them, then you have some low hanging fruit to pick. But what if you’re launching a new product or you’re already established your in primary foreign markets and aren’t sure where to target next? In this post, we’ll provide the ten best languages for business and why you should consider targeting them for translation. The Most Useful Languages for Business When researching which languages to target, a common approach is to focus on the world’s most popular languages. While this is a good starting point, it fails to consider cultural and diplomatic factors that directly correlate with the translation ROI of a language. Dr. Kai Chan of INSEAD has published a report that tackles…

Exploring the World’s Top Power Languages

June 23, 2019 Articles, Media / Op-ed
The dominance of English worldwide as a lingua franca is well documented, but there are other languages that can also afford their speakers more power than others. Speaking a language can help you unlock a host of opportunities, whether it’s to travel overseas or perhaps connect with another language group in your own country. Some languages have the ability to unlock more opportunities than others, and speaking certain languages can positively alter an individual’s life prospects quite dramatically. So how do you measure the power and importance of a language? One obvious way to do that is to count how many people speak it. But that’s less helpful than asking who speaks that language. Languages gain power if they are used by powerful groups, whether that’s measured in economic, political or military terms. In colonial countries, it’s common for a small language group to dominate over a much larger language population. So the number of people speaking a language is less important than the power that group holds. Sharing a language with a relatively powerful group empowers the individual and tends to open up a greater set of opportunities for them. Measuring power in language The Power Language Index (PLI)…




These are the world’s most powerful languages:

Research Documents (pdf)

Intelligence Capital IndexPower Language IndexImmigrating into the workforceCanada's Mosaic Ceiling

Presentations (pdf):