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The Case Against National AI Strategies

When it comes to artificial intelligence, it is understandable that individual countries would strive to gain the upper hand and secure their spot in the data-oriented value chain of the future. And yet, to reap the benefits of AI while mitigating its inherent risks, governments and leading technology firms will have to start cooperating.

CAMBRIDGE – Efforts to develop artificial intelligence (AI) are increasingly being framed as a global race, or even a new Great Game. In addition to the race between countries to build national competencies and establish a competitive advantage, firms are also in a contest to acquire AI talent, leverage data advantages, and offer unique services. In both cases, success will depend on whether AI solutions can be democratized and distributed across sectors.

The global AI race is unlike any other global competition, because the extent to which innovation is being driven by the state, the corporate sector, or academia differs substantially from country to country. On average, though, the majority of innovations so far have emerged from academia, with governments contributing through procurement, rather than internal research and development.

While the share of commodities in global trade has fallen, the share of digital services has risen, such that digitalization now underwrites more than 60% of all trade. By 2025, half of all economic value is expected to be created in the digital sector. And as governments have searched for ways to claim a position in the value chain of the future, they have homed in on AI.

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