Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the world as we know it, and governments worldwide are in a race to become AI superpowers. With the potential to revolutionize industries from healthcare to finance, it is no surprise that governments are investing heavily in AI research and development. The global AI market is currently valued at 142.3 billion U.S. dollars as of 2023, and the influx of investments into AI continues to grow (Statista). Governments are fostering AI investment, establishing education programs, and pursuing research and development to support businesses within their borders.
To spur economic and technological growth, many governments have developed formal AI frameworks, such as the US executive order on AI leadership and China’s “Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan”. Meanwhile, countries like Germany and Canada have developed their own AI strategies to stay competitive. From 2020 to 2022, the total yearly corporate global investment in AI startups increased by five billion U.S. dollars, nearly double its previous investments, with much of it coming from private capital from U.S. companies (Deloitte Insights).
The most recent top-funded AI businesses are all machine learning and chatbot companies, focusing on human interface with machines. The global race for AI is intensifying, and the consequences of who emerges as the dominant AI superpowers are profound.
Old Balance of Power
At the beginning of the 21st century, the global balance of power was largely influenced by the geopolitical landscape that emerged after the Cold War. The United States was the sole superpower, with unprecedented military, economic, and cultural dominance. China was seen as a rising power, but its economic and political influence was limited. The European Union was an economic powerhouse, but its political clout was limited by the fragmentation of its member states.
The global balance of power was largely shaped by economic factors, with the United States as the largest economy in the world, followed by the European Union and Japan. These countries dominated international trade and investment, and their economic policies and practices often set the global standard.
Politically, the United States played a dominant role in shaping the international order, with its military might and influence over international institutions such as the United Nations. However, the rise of China and other emerging economies challenged the United States' dominant position.
The global balance of power was also shaped by cultural factors, with the United States as the leading exporter of popular culture. American movies, music, and fashion influenced people around the world and helped to spread American values and ideals.
In recent years, the global balance of power has been shifting as emerging economies like China and India have grown in economic and political influence. The European Union has struggled to maintain its unity and relevance in the face of Brexit and other challenges, while the United States has become more inward-looking and has faced political polarization and economic challenges.
Technology-based Data Power
The old balance of power since the start of the 21st century has been significantly influenced by changing technology. The rapid pace of technological innovation has disrupted traditional power structures, creating new winners and losers in the global economy.
One of the key technological drivers of change has been the internet, which has facilitated the rise of digital platforms and new forms of economic activity. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have become some of the most valuable in the world, and they have disrupted traditional industries such as advertising, media, and retail. These companies have amassed enormous amounts of data, which has given them significant power to shape markets and influence political outcomes.
The proliferation of mobile devices and the increasing availability of high-speed internet have also contributed to the changing balance of power. These technologies have enabled people to connect with one another more easily and have given rise to new forms of political and social organization. They have also created new opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation, particularly in developing countries that have previously been marginalized.
The rise of digital platforms, automation and AI, mobile devices, and emerging technologies have disrupted traditional power structures and created new opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship. As these technologies continue to evolve, they are likely to shape the global balance of power in ways that are difficult to predict.