World Powers and Artificial Intelligence

As history shows, the country with the most advanced technologies in a given historical period, whether in the field of war or production, has had primacy over other nations. In recent times, the U.S.’ digital revolution has helped it maintain its position as the world’s leading power, giving it primacy in the field of technology. The digital revolution has meant a change in society, the world of finance and communication and information, among other things. Artificial intelligence is now being referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, which is undoubtedly a consequence of the previous one.

Some of AI’s possibilities are already being used, while others are being developed, especially by superpowers such as the U.S., China and Japan. According to the geopolitical analyst Jacob L. Shapiro in an article published in the Italian geopolitical magazine “Limes” in December 2022, “In the competition with AI, the dominance of the fourth industrial revolution is at stake, and its success does not depend on China or the U.S., but on the results obtained with it.”

But what is AI? It is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

According to Paul Triolo, an expert in Chinese Business and Economics for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “The private sector is at the forefront of innovation, and respective governments are supporting it with scientific training and funding for civilian and military research.”*

“The U.S. has a dominant position in AI hardware, which is not an unimportant element in AI. Given the importance of research in the military field, and the geopolitical tension with China, they introduced limits on exports of these on Oct. 7, 2022. This is in order to make it difficult for Chinese companies to access more advanced systems to complete machine learning operations in the cloud.”*

In reality, apart from applications in the field of state-funded warfare, it will be very difficult in practice to limit certain exports. If it is the private sector that is managing the development of companies with the use of AI, it will be very difficult for it not to go where there is the potential to generate large profits, unless there are rules about it that we don’t know about. On the other hand, there are international laws with heavy penalties for violating industrial patent rights.

Such companies’ aim is to generate profit, and from one point of view, this is positive, because it is important that the benefits AI can bring reach other countries, in turn generating wealth for the countries that produce it. According to Triolo, “Chinese and American researchers have used common tools and approaches and have presented many joint studies at major international conventions. There is a spread of AI in technology platforms such as Google in the U.S. and Alibaba in China, but apparently geopolitical tensions between the two countries could affect cooperation between them. This is because U.S. officials include AI among the core technologies in competition with China, along with semiconductors, quantum computing, biology and green technologies.”* However, according to Triolo, “The warfare use of algorithms is still very limited in both China and the U.S.”*

In the meantime, important applications of AI are already being used. There are companies specializing in particular niche areas, such as facial recognition, tumor identification and the creation of pharmaceuticals.

“In the field of geopolitics, contrary to those who believe that whoever dominates AI will dominate the world, there are divergent opinions, such as that of Henry Kissinger, who points out that whoever dominates the world will not be the one who dominates AI, but the one who is able to use the human factor to scrutinize, with the eye of the strategist, the geopolitical depth and the historical context itself.”*

More interesting is Japan’s approach to AI, which sees it only as a means to “better meet the challenges in the economic sphere and to make the functioning of the state more efficient. And, alongside this legitimate objective, it advocates the regulation of AI to avoid abuses that threaten the balance of democratic systems.”*

“Japan has invested a lot of resources in quantum computing and AI, which are considered to be interconnected fields. Quantum computing provides the computational power needed to develop new strategies and new developments in the field of biotechnology, revolutionizing, among other things, the way in which pharmaceuticals, new biomaterials, and more efficient practices and tools are created in the field of agriculture. They are more interested in an application of AI that enables a new, different understanding of problems that provide innovative solutions to Japan’s present and future challenges. As part of these objectives, Tokyo has created ‘The Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Network,’ which aims to cooperate in AI research with Canada, the U.S. and European countries.”*

As we can see, it is today’s most developed countries that will be in the best position to dominate AI decisions in the future. These world powers are creating and using this new technology to bring greater efficiency and safety and better products to the market. This will undoubtedly create more wealth, especially for those countries that are already wealthy. For a start, they will be able to make better decisions and investments in the market with the information provided by these sophisticated algorithms. However, we live in a globalized society, and these benefits may reach others. And of course, they may affect and bring problems to some markets and sectors. There is already talk of jobs and professions that will cease to exist, a problem that must be analyzed to create new legal norms to confront and regulate this new reality.

What remains for us, as non-superpower countries, is to use our comparative advantages and develop our competitive advantages, such as tourism, and to continue the creative search for other equally profitable areas. To continue with the project of lowering the cost of energy (without polluting the environment), and not simply to be more attractive to foreign investment. To protect ourselves from future crises, to be self-sufficient in the food sector, producing food for our own population at reasonable prices, and to benefit from the technological advances that will come above all from the U.S. due to our proximity.

All this in order to find ourselves well-positioned in the new world that will develop and bring us new realities. As for the conflict between China and the U.S., the reality is that they are countries that need each other in this globalized economy, and they will probably resolve their differences if they make good use of non-artificial intelligence, one that allows for fair and forward-looking negotiations for both parties.

*Editor’s Note: These quotations, while accurately translated, could not be independently verified.

About this publication

About Stephen Routledge 173 Articles
Stephen is the Head of a Portfolio Management Office (PMO) in a public sector organisation. He has over twenty years experience in project, programme and portfolio management, leading various major organisational change initiatives. He has been invited to share his knowledge, skills and experience at various national events. Stephen has a BA Honours Degree in History & English and a Masters in Human Resource Management (HRM). He has studied a BSc Language Studies Degree (French & Spanish) and is currently completing a Masters in Translation (Spanish to English). He has been translating for more than ten years for various organisations and individuals, with a particular interest in science and technology, poetry and literature, and current affairs.

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