Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most revolutionary and promising technologies of the 21st century. Its potential to transform various sectors and areas of society is enormous, from health and education to security and entertainment. However, it also raises important ethical, social and geopolitical challenges, which require appropriate reflection and regulation.
In this context, there is intense competition between different companies and countries to lead the field of artificial intelligence and obtain competitive, economic and strategic advantages. What motivations drive this career? The motivations for competition over artificial intelligence, both declared and hidden, vary depending on the actors involved, their interests and/or "private agendas." Speculating a little on the subject, the most typical ones could be:
📌 The possibility of creating novel and efficient solutions to complex problems, which can improve people's quality of life and generate social and environmental benefits. Help diagnose diseases, optimize the use of resources, personalize education or facilitate inclusion.
📌 Artificial intelligence also represents a business opportunity for companies that develop and market products and services based on this technology. Among the main advantages is that they make it possible to increase productivity, reduce costs, expand markets or create new forms of income. According to some sources, artificial intelligence could contribute $15.7 trillion to global GDP by 2030.
📌 One of the most controversial motivations for the use of artificial intelligence are the political and military implications, since it can grant strategic advantages to countries that dominate it. With this technology it is possible to improve the surveillance, defense, attack or influence capacity of states, as well as affect the balance of forces and international order. Although it seems taken from a science fiction book or the "Black Mirror" series, have no doubt that artificial intelligence could be a determining factor in the future of international relations.
📌 Last but not least, it is necessary to remember that artificial intelligence reflects the values and principles of the actors who create and use it. It could serve to promote or restrict human rights, civil liberties or democracy, depending on the context and the purpose for which it is applied, constituting a tool for social control or citizen emancipation.
The actors, both public and private, participating in the competition for artificial intelligence have different levels of resources, capabilities and ambitions, some of the most notable are:
📌 United States: It is the pioneer and leading country in the field of Artificial Intelligence, thanks to its innovative ecosystem, its investment in research and development, its human talent and its dynamic market. It has companies such as Google, Microsoft or Amazon, which are world leaders in the development and application of Artificial Intelligence. However, it also faces challenges such as ethical regulation, international competition or the social divide.
📌 China: It is the main rival of the United States in the race for Artificial Intelligence, due to its economic and social policy, state support, its demographic scale and its technological advance. They have set the goal of being the world leaders in Artificial Intelligence by 2030, which is why they have invested massively in infrastructure, education and data. They have companies like Baidu, Alibaba or Tencent, which are giants in the domestic and global market. However, it also faces many challenges derived from the economic, financial and trade war with the United States.
📌 Europe: Although it is a relevant actor, in my opinion, it is lagging behind in the field of Artificial Intelligence due to its cultural diversity, its political fragmentation and its lack of investment presumably due to the economic problems it faces. Its strength is its scientific tradition, its legal framework and its social commitment. It owns companies such as SAP, Siemens or Spotify, which are leaders in specific sectors. However, it also needs to overcome obstacles such as regulatory harmonization, strategic cooperation or global competitiveness.
📌 There are other emerging or potential actors in the field of Artificial Intelligence, which may play a significant role in the future. Some of them are: India, which has a large population, a thriving technology sector and an alliance with the United States; Russia, which has great military capacity, leadership and an alliance with China; Japan, which has great industrial experience, high educational quality and an alliance with Europe; or Brazil, which has great natural wealth, wide cultural diversity and an alliance with the South.
Competition over Artificial Intelligence can have positive or negative effects for the future of humanity, depending on how it is managed and regulated. Some of them are:
📌 Promoting cooperation between actors, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to establish common standards, share good practices, resolve conflicts or face global challenges. Some time ago I read that UNESCO is preparing a recommendation on the ethics of artificial intelligence, which seeks to promote the principles of human rights, human dignity and cultural diversity.
📌 Increase in confrontation between actors, both at an economic and political level, to obtain competitive advantages, protect national interests, exert influence or dominate territories. The most obvious example is the trade and technological war that the United States and China are waging and which affects key sectors such as 5G, social networks or artificial intelligence.
📌 Competition for Artificial Intelligence can cause transformations in actors, both internally and externally, to adapt to the social, cultural and environmental changes that this technology implies. A very recent example is that of the Chinese Company Baidu, which has presented its "AI ERNIE 4.0" system, which surpasses OpenAI's GPT-3 in performance, and which aims to revolutionize natural language processing and content generation.
Artificial intelligence is a disruptive and promising technology, which has triggered intense competition between different companies and countries to lead its development and application. Motivations as diverse as innovation, profit, power or ideology, have actors such as the United States, China, Europe or others as their main protagonists. The consequences can be positive or negative for the future of humanity, such as cooperation, confrontation or transformation. I only hope that they are smart enough to establish a dialogue and global regulation that guarantees the ethical and responsible use of this technology that can benefit or affect us all.
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Author's Note: The opinion expressed here is not investment advice, is provided for informational purposes only, and reflects the opinion of the author only. I do not promote, endorse or recommend any particular investment. Investments may not be right for everyone. Every investment in the market and every trade you make involves risk, so you should always do your own research before making any decision. I do not recommend investing money that you cannot afford to chair, as you could lose the entire amount invested.
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