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The Beijing dilemma: Dependencies in global artificial intelligence research
Brookings
2024.05.20
A common view of the relationship between the U.S. and China regarding artificial intelligence (AI) is of competition or even a battleground. However, artificial intelligence is a scientific field that thrives on collaboration and knowledge sharing. As a science, it relies on previous knowledge from all corners of the world. These views pose a dilemma. On the one hand, some developments in AI technologies must be kept secret for national security reasons. On the other, purposeful AI technologies in, for example, medical diagnosis or education may be slowed down because useful foreign knowledge is not accessed. In a recent paper, we take a step toward addressing this dilemma and describe AI knowledge dependencies worldwide (AlShebli et al. 2022). If dependencies are important, depriving the U.S. of AI knowledge created elsewhere can hamper social and economic development.
We document how AI researchers in given cities base their AI work on knowledge produced in other cities across the world (AlShebli et al. 2022). We study cities because they have driven innovation, and their inhabitants have consumed most of the wealth created by the new technologies used in production since the beginning of civilization (Montgomery 2008; Glaeser 2011; Dal B? et al. 2022). As economic growth in the long run is determined by people searching for ideas, cities with large numbers of people, such as those in China and India, are likely to become future drivers of growth (Jones 2023).