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Maximizing AI’s economic, social, and trade opportunities

AI is already affecting how economies grow, produce jobs, and trade internationally.

For instance, China, the U.K., and France plan to increase research and development (R&D) funding for AI, as well as education and skills development to expand the pool of workers capable of contributing to AI. Author Joshua

My new Global Views brief, “Artificial intelligence primer: What is needed to maximize AI’s economic, social, and trade opportunities,” highlights seven steps for maximizing the benefits of AI.

AI is not a specific technology—rather, it is a set of processes including data analytics, enabling technology, applications, and software that make existing processes smarter.

Recently, the U.S. White House issued “Maintain American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence,” an Executive Order that prioritizes investment in AI research and development, making federal data more accessible for AI research, setting AI governance standards, building an AI workforce, and engaging internationally on AI issues.

As it evolves, AI regulation needs to be overlaid on an international strategy aimed at building regulatory cooperation and avoiding unnecessary heterogeneity in standards that could create barriers to trade.

For instance, domestic AI standards that require AI to be trained in a particular way, to produce or avoid certain outcomes, or to use specific hardware can all present barriers to trade.

AI development will require regulatory oversight as well as efforts to prepare people for developing and working alongside AI and policies to mitigate AI’s potential economic and social downsides.

This matters because some jobs will inevitably be lost due to AI-driven automation, and the potentially significant social effects of AI, if not carefully managed, could lead to a backlash and to regulation that stifles innovation and the diffusion of AI globally.

At the same time, international coordination on AI regulation, including the development of shared norms and standards, is needed to avoid the proliferation of unnecessary regulatory heterogeneity that raises the cost of AI diffusion globally, including trade in AI-embedded products.

Artificial intelligence primer: What is needed to maximize AI’s economic, social, and trade opportunities

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform economic growth, commerce, and trade, affecting the types of jobs that are available and skills that are needed.

For AI to develop also requires an enabling environment that includes new regulation in areas such as AI ethics and data access and revisiting existing laws and regulation in areas such as privacy and intellectual property (IP) rights to ensure that they work for AI.

In addition, AI development requires an international agenda to avoid unnecessary regulatory heterogeneity that creates barriers to data access and use and impedes the global diffusion of AI products.

AI is not a specific technology, but instead is better conceived of as a set of processes that includes data analytics, enabling technology, applications, and software that make existing processes smarter.

Current AI is based on machine learning using large amounts of data and powerful algorithms to develop increasingly robust predictions about the future.

Though still in its infancy, AI is already being used in various ways and across economic sectors, including by business to detect and manage risk,to develop autonomous vehicles and increase the efficiency of transportation networks, and to improve medical diagnostics and inform patient care.

AI is already directly affecting trade in various ways, including through improved management of risks in supply chains, facilitation of smart manufacturing, and AI language translation services that have increased U.S. exports to non-English speaking countries.

International agenda: Skills development will be needed globally, creating an opportunity for governments and industry to develop partnerships in other countries, particularly in the developing world.

The following outlines elements of an emerging framework to support cross-border data flows for AI that also addresses underlying privacy concerns: Domestic agenda: Governments can facilitate access to publicly held datasets.

Sharing data sets across government agencies and with state and local governments as well as with researchers and the private sector require a consistent, transparent, and standardized governance framework.

For example, the U.S. federal government has made progress in developing data as a strategic asset, including the development of a Federal Data Strategy, which aims to provide a consistent approach to federal data stewardship, use, and access.

International agenda: Fair use exceptions do not exist in many countries other than the U.S. In the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the parties took a small step toward agreeing on the need for appropriate copyright exceptions by recognizing the need to achieve “an appropriate balance in its copyright and related rights systems.” This call for balance was not replicated in USMCA.

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