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AI, cultural policy, and the rise of counter-neoliberalism


Governments and cultural industries firms around the globe are riding an Al phenomenon. Starting in the late 2010s, several countries, both in the Global North and the Global South, have reshaped their industrial structures by emphasizing the increasing role of Al, big data, and algorithms. In a handful of advanced economies in the Global North, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Canada, Al and big data are transforming all industries, including platform and cultural industries. Several countries like China and Korea in the Global South have also vehemently invested in Al and big data, as they are new drivers for the digital economy, although the majority of countries in the Global South cannot develop Al-related technologies comparable to a few Western countries due to the lack of money and manpower. It is certain that Al can streamline industry structure and bring new energies to the national economies, and therefore, many countries have to adapt to nascent technological shifts like Al (McKelvey and MacDonald, 2019). Again, because of the possibility of economic prosperity, these countries have also developed various supporting measures, both legal and financial, so that governments and corporations can closely work together to enhance the Al-driven digital economy.

Given its short history, Al policies in many countries are relatively new, and these countries mentioned above do not have well-advanced policy measures yet. In particular, these countries rarely develop Al policy pertinent to the cultural industries with a few exceptions. The trend itself is shifting, of course, due to the significance of Al in media and culture, as well as other industries. As Kulesz (2018a, 2) points out, “Al can help to empower numerous creators, make the cultural industries more efficient and increase the number of artworks, which is in the interest of the public.” Accordingly, governments, digital platform firms, and cultural corporations discuss a whole host of agendas surrounding the remarkable emergence of Al in general. From governments to cultural industries to cultural creators (e.g., film directors and music composers), how to utilize Al and algorithms for the digital economy and cultural production is one of their key concerns.

Governance in media and platform companies has been gradually emphasized in this shifting trend over the past several years; however, the current form of government policies does not emphasize cultural diversity, as many governments provide disproportionately favorable policy measures to Al and platform owners instead of the users.

This chapter aims to document the ways in which several countries, both in the Global North and the Global South, have shaped and developed AI-related media and cultural politics. It analyzes the governments’ own rapid development of Al policies in tandem with neoliberalism, which emphasizes small government while guaranteeing the maximum liberty of the private sector or developmentalism—“a state-driven political doctrine coined by the state to combat harsh domestic economic conditions” (Lee and Kim, 2010, 315)—entailing government intervention to promote economic development for large conglomerates. It discusses Al policy in a few leading countries and in developing countries in order to critically compare and contrast relevant policy standards—in particular, in the media and cultural sectors. It draws on the active engagement of governments in the process and builds on the legacy of digital platforms and cultural industries firms in the neoliberal era, which is not what the proponents of neoliberalism expect to see. Finally, it addresses the possibility of a human-centered policy norm in the cultural sector in the age of AL

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