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Al policies and the increasing tendency of counter-neoliberalism
Al development and use are some of the major indicators for the growth of Al and relevant policies around the world. To begin with, according to the Government Al Readiness Index 2019 produced by Oxford Insights (2019), U.K. (2), Germany (3), U.S. (4), Canada (6), and Japan (10) lead the global Al society, while China ranked at 20 and Korea ranked at 26. Although there are some exceptional cases—for example, Singapore was ranked in the top position—this index certainly proves the great divide between a few Western societies and non-Western societies showing an insurmountable gap. Another survey published by Tortois in December 2019 indicates a similar trend. As Table 3.1 explains, only three countries, China, Singapore, and South Korea, are ranked in the top ten list of The Global Al Index.
There are a few different perspectives, of course. According to the 2018 China Al Development Report, by the end of 2017, the international Al talent pool had 204,575 people, densely distributed in North America, Western Europe, Northern Europe, East Asia, and South Asia. At the country level, Al talent is concentrated in a few countries, with the top ten countries representing 61.8% of the global total. The U.S. takes the lead with as many as 28,536 Al talents, representing 13.9% of the global total; followed by China in the second place with 18,232, representing 8.9%; India in third place with 17384; Germany in fourth place with 9,441; and the U.K. in fifth place
Table 3.1 The Global Al Index
Source: Tortois (2019).
Al, cultural policy, counter-neoliberalism
with 7,998 (China Institute for Science and Technology Policy at Tsinghua University, 2018). With some variations like China, these data explain that there is an Al divide between a few Western countries and many developing countries. As a global economic divide has intensified the gap of people’s lives between these two areas, the Al divide has shown a symptom to worsen the already existing gap between the Global North and the Global South, both technologically and economically.
The growth of Al in these countries mentioned above, either in the Global North or in the Global South, has closely related to national information and communication technology (ICT) policies, which means that several countries around the world have vehemently developed Al policies in the early 21st century. Although each country’s focuses are dissimilar, they commonly admit the importance of policy measures to advance AI-supported economy and culture while avoiding potential risks rooted in the growth of Al use. They develop regulatory schemes in order for Al to drive the transformation of our contemporary society, both economically and culturally. In regard to the increasing role of governments in Al, people have seen unprecedented investment in Al governance and ethics in recent years. As Gunkel stated in his university’s newspaper (Parisi, 2019), the 2020s will see an amplification of this effort as stakeholders in many parts of the planet as North America, Europe, and China compete to dominate the Al policy and governance market. AI-related technology might be global in scope and controlled by borderless multinationals. But Al policy and governance is still a matter of nation-states. Merkie (2018, 2) also points out the significance of relevant Al policy, not only focusing on the digital revolution, including Al revolution, but social and cultural change as well, as the world we are currently understanding is much more than technical. Digitization, here developed by Al, must be “accompanied by enlightened state cultural policies, if opportunities for access and participation, individual and collective creativity with respect to diversity are to be fully used.” What these scholars generally emphasize is the leading role of nation-states in the Al era, unlike neoliberal proponents who argue that governments must take hands-off policy measures.
As is well documented, governments in the Global North and the Global South have deregulated and liberalized their domestic markets and industries to guarantee the maximum profits for corporations, including cultural firms. As McChesney (2008) clearly points out, neoliberal norms imply that governments should remain large so as to better serve corporate interests, while minimizing their hand-on activities that might undermine the free rule of business. Proponents of neoliberalism claim that the market itself is alive and that governments must leave everything in the invisible hands of market forces (Friedman, 1982).
Contrary to neoliberal economic policy, governments around the globe, both countries in the Global North and the Global South, have expanded their involvement in the field of AL Several leading and emerging economies
AI, cultural policy, counter-neoliberalism 39 have had to advance Al policy, mainly because of Al prosperity, meaning Al certainly improves business productivity, government effectiveness, and the nation’s future. Public policy is a key driver for achieving Al prosperity because it sets the rules and conditions for success (Deloitte, 2019, 4). From the U.S. to China, governments have increased their financial investments and legal supports for the growth of Al-related areas.
Governments around the globe believe that Al is one of the most significant cutting-edge technologies that should be supported by the governments rather than leaving it in the hands of the private sector only. As Joseph Stiglitz (2019) argues, “Contrary to what many in the financial sector would like to think, the problem was not too much state involvement in the economy, but too little,” and therefore, these governments have turned their gazes to directly nurturing AI-related fields, although they are not giving up on their neoliberal tendencies. This does not mean that the private sector has lost its crucial role to the public sector in advancing AL Many IT corporations and venture capitals have continued to develop Al and relevant technologies, and many governments have closely worked with them to advance AL
There is another major reason for the continuous involvement of the government. For many nation-states, people who may be negatively affected by Al should be protected. Public policy measures, therefore, need to focus on not only economic prosperity but also fairness and justice. Since governments are the major players in this regard, it is necessary for nation-states to formulate supportive, but still normative and ethical policy mechanisms, as also discussed in Chapter 8. Media and culture are unique in both production and consumption, as they are directly related to humans’ daily cultural activities, which asks nation-states to play a leading role in nurturing AI-driven media and cultural content through their articulated cultural policies. The necessity of Al-involved media and cultural content triggers the revival of nation-states, which intensifies counter-neoliberal tendencies in the 2020s.