The Brookings Institution last week published a report from global economy expert Indermit Gill prophesying that the AI leader in 2030 will go on to rule the planet until at least 2100. The territories in the running include the US, China, and the European Union.
Economists appear to have reached a general consensus that artificial intelligence is among the four great “general purpose technologies” to come along since the 1800s. Gill argues that AI, like steam power, electricity, and information systems technology, will directly impact the way business is conducted at the global scale by 2030.
According to Gill:
Technological leadership will require big digital investments, rapid business process innovation, and efficient tax and transfer systems. China appears to have the edge in the first, the U.S. in the second, and Western Europe in the third.
The country that ends up nailing all three will end up leading. China’s big advantage is government investment in machine learning technologies. Not only does the PRC have more power over its own purse-strings than most Western governments, there’s also a culture of businesses supporting the government that allows China to drum up capital in a hurry. This feature of Eastern rule is juxtaposed by a dead-in-the-water startup economy that’s holding China back in some major ways.
Per Gill’s report:
China has neither the entrepreneurial nimbleness of America nor the capable public finance systems of Western Europe, but it is putting a lot of money into digital dominance. The question is whether this will be enough.
The EU’s managed to slide past Russia and a few other global players to secure the third-place slot thanks to Western Europe’s tortoise strategy (where the US is the hare). Gill predicts that the skyrocketing income-gap in the US could widen, thus making it more difficult for US innovation to continue. Europe’s greatest strength, as far as the AI race is concerned, appears to be having a better existing infrastructure and taxation system in place. The argument here is that the EU could slide to the forefront by sheer virtue of steady, measured growth.
And then there’s the current front runner and predicted winner: The US. Silicon Valley and a fistful of trillion-dollar companies have the US poised to claim AI supremacy by 2030 and it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the competition overtakes it.
Basically, Gill says the race is the US’s to lose:
Perhaps we should look instead at the willingness of economies to remedy their shortcomings. China has to find ways to encourage entrepreneurship and address the massive disparities in education and wealth. Europe has to mobilize large amounts of money and make it easier for investors anywhere to bring inventions to the Single Market. The United States just has to quickly figure out ways to restore competition in tech, finance, health, and public education, so its redistribution systems are not strained.
You can read the full report here on the Brookings Institute’s website.