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State-led Al policies in the Global North

There are several exemplary cases showing the increasing involvement of nation-states in the field of AL To begin with, as one of the leading countries in the development of Al, the Canadian government has actively shaped diverse Al policies, as briefly discussed with the case of COVID-19 in Chapter 1. In Canadian policy, nurturing Al is crucial for the government, as Al greatly operates at the intersection of automation and big data. On one side, ML that improves through experience requires massive amounts of training data to optimize its algorithms. “Once trained, Al requires proper implementation, and should be used only when experts deem it acceptable”; thus, the Canadian government’s recent movements with Al are part of “a global rush to codify rules and regulations on AL Several relevant standards have been proposed to govern Al and its underlying data” (McKelvey and MacDonald,

2019,44). Many of these mechanisms are concerned with ensuring transparent practices and establishing accountable methods of “securing the role of facts in public debate” (Marres, 2018, 424).

More specifically, in March 2017, Canada became the first country in the world to announce a national strategy for Al, with a CD$125 million investment over the next five years by the federal government (UNESCO, 2018). A few factors inspired the Canadian government to act. Canada had the talent advantage, but it needed to act quickly to maintain that lead. International demand for talent, especially from the U.S., was putting Canada’s prior investments in Al research and talent development at risk. There was concern in both the Canadian government and in the private sector that this brain drain would compromise Canada’s capacity to become an early adopter of this new technology (UNESCO, 2018).

Canada’s top-notch research expertise in the field of Al has led to significant recent investment. But far fewer resources have been dedicated to the governance, ethics, or social responsibilities of Al, leaving many different local initiatives to try to fill the gap as well. People cannot deny that Al already affects their everyday lives, and people’s activities are the major sources for the growth of digital platforms. With each “like” and comment on Facebook, people as the users are already contributing individual data to improve Al applications. Better processors, advances in algorithms, as well as big data, often gathered from people’s online interactions, have driven key advances in deep learning. Advances in these fields have been heralded as a net benefit to humans. However, treating Al as inherently good overlooks the significant development needed for ethical, safe, and inclusive applications. Poor data or rushed deployment can lead to Al systems that are not worth celebrating (McKelvey and Gupta, 2018).

Consequently, the Canadian government experimented with a highly open consultation process during the development of its Al self-regulation. The public, but mostly experts, could join its Artificial Intelligence Policy Workspace, where other civil servants shared news and reports (Karlin, 2018). The paper, titled “Responsible Al in the Government of Canada,” summarized the benefits and risks of Al to the federal government (McKelvey and MacDonald, 2019, 45). The Canadian government tool provides a risk assessment based on 1) impact on individuals and entities, 2) impact on government institutions, 3) data management, 4) procedural fairness, and 5) complexity. These criteria drew on the report’s final section on “Policy, Ethical, and Legal Considerations of Al,” where it discussed bias and fairness in data, transparency, and accountability, as well as acceptable use. This tool is just now being used across the federal government due to the 2019 Directive on Automated Decision-Making. Applications to date seem low risk, but it also seems clear that though we might know how the government considers Al, we are not privy to who engages with it—and whether high-risk situations such as immigration should be considered a no-go zone (McKelvey

AI, cultural policy, counter-ueoliberalism 41 and MacDonald, 2019, 45-46). While the Canadian government started to develop new policy mechanisms, it has not shown any crucial policy measures to deal with some issues embedded in the growth of Al.

The U.S. has also rapidly developed its Al policy, deploying a hands-on policy, not one based on neoliberal trends, which is interesting. It is especially critical to understand American AI-related policy, as the country is arguably the home of cutting-edge digital technologies, including Al and platforms, as well as neoliberalism. The U.S. government has been active in developing policies and implementing strategies that accelerate Al innovation since President Trump issued an executive order launching the American Al Initiative on February 11, 2019 (Office of Science and Technology Policy of the U.S., 2019). The executive order explained that the federal government plays an important role not only in facilitating AI R&D (research and development) but also in promoting trust; training people for a changing workforce; and protecting national interests, security, and values. As the Future of Life Institute (2019) points out, the American Al Initiative is guided by five principles: 1) driving technological breakthroughs, 2) driving the development of appropriate technical standards, 3) training workers with the skills to develop and apply Al technologies, 4) protecting American values including civil liberties and privacy and fostering public trust and confidence in Al technologies, and 5) protecting US technological advantage in Al, while promoting an international environment that supports innovation.

On March 19, 2019, the U.S. federal government launched AI.gov to make it easier to access all the governmental Al initiatives currently underway (White House, 2019). There is no doubt that the U.S. has initiated and developed neoliberal policy in most areas, including economy. In the realm of digital platforms, both social media platforms and OTT platforms, private corporations and venture capitals have been the major actors. However, the U.S. government has no choice but to take a leading role for the growth of Al due to Al’s significant role for the national digital economy. This initiative, though, does not include media and culture as major areas that the U.S. government has to support with priority. As Table 3.1 shows, under favorable government initiatives, the U.S. has continued to become the leading country in several Al areas, including talent, infrastructure, research, and commercial.

Several European countries have also developed strong and practical legal and ethical guidelines. As one of the leading countries in the field of Al, Germany has emphasized legal stability and security to users since the early years of Al initiatives. For Germany, “advancing the development of Al is important from societal and ethical perspectives” since legal standards and ethical principles were considered as important elements during development and rollout of Al systems. The German government has developed “verifiable requirements concerning transparency, information efficiency, formal privacy guarantees and the integrity of Al” that could become features of Al development (Harhoff et al., 2018,24). In August 2019, a government panel also stated that “businesses are free to develop tools for Al but also must weigh a variety of factors and ethical restrictions.” The German government established the Data Ethics Commission in July 2018 to develop ethical guidelines and recommendations for protecting “the individual, preserving social cohesion, and safeguarding and promoting prosperity in the information age” (Radu, 2019), and the Data Ethics Commission proposed 75 recommendations to regulate automated decision-making by Al and algorithms in October 2019. Although many aspects of the commission’s report remain blurry, the recommendations encouraged the German government to provide more funding to current oversight bodies and to support self-regulation initiatives (Data Ethics Commission, 2019).

Meanwhile, Japan has advanced its own policy to advance Al technology in the name of Society 5.0 since early 2019. Japan’s new blueprint for a supersmart society, Society 5.0, is a more far-reaching concept than the Fourth Industrial Revolution, for it envisions completely transforming the Japanese way of life by blurring the frontier between cyberspace and physical space. Society 5.0, also called “the ‘super-smart society,’ envisions a sustainable, inclusive socio-economic system, powered by digital technologies such as big data analytics, Al, the Internet of Things and robotics” (UNESCO, 2019). In Society 5.0, many products or services will be optimally delivered to people and tailored to their needs.

In Society 5.0, autonomous vehicles and drones will bring goods and services to people in depopulated areas. Customers will be able to choose the size, color and fabric of their clothing online directly from the garment factory before having it delivered by drone.

(UNESCO, 2019)

As such, Al policies in many countries are relatively new, and these countries have developed several different policy mechanisms. Although these countries in the Global North have heavily depended on neoliberal policy for national economy, they provide necessary funds and supporting measures for the growth of AL On the contrary to neoliberal tendencies, emphasizing small government, these governments have to initiate some mechanisms to advance Al and relevant technologies in their infancy. Due to Al’s nascent development, however, these countries have not yet developed Al policy for the cultural industries, other than a few exceptional cases. State policies on the cultural industries thus far have been mainly concerned with fostering and supporting the production of cultural content, such as television dramas, documentaries, feature films, and other forms of audiovisual content like music by domestic producers (Jin, 2018). With increasing involvement of Al, cultural policy in many countries needs to be changed, as Al becomes a new key player in cultural production.

 
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