Past, Present, Future: AI, Geopolitics, and the Global Economy

Chris Riley is Executive Director of the Data Transfer Initiative and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center.  David Man & Tristan Ferne / Better Images of AI / Trees / CC-BY 4.0 Spurred by ChatGPT and similar generative technologies, the news is filled with articles about AI replacing humans. Sometimes the concern is over AI replacing employees, displacing jobs; sometimes it’s about AI serving as a relationship partner, fulfilling human social and emotional needs. Most often, it’s even more direct, taking the form of fears that AI will dispense with humanity entirely. But as powerful as AI technologies are, these fears are little more than science fiction in the present day. They’re also a distraction – but not yet, it seems, from ongoing efforts to regulate AI systems or invest in greater accountability. News and updates on both of these fronts continue to advance every day. Rather, digital replacement fears are distracting the US from thinking about two other ways in which AI will shape our future. On the one hand, AI offers a major upside: It can amplify today’s massive investments in revitalizing the country’s industrial leadership. On the other, a major downside: It could contribute to breaking the already fragile post-World War II international order. These possibilities are intertwined, and their prospects will depend on US technology policy actions… or the lack thereof. First, the upside. Through what’s increasingly being called Bidenomics, the US is witnessing a resurgence of domestic industrial…Past, Present, Future: AI, Geopolitics, and the Global Economy