‘A couple of years ago, Vladimir Putin warned Russians that the country that led in technologies using artificial intelligence will dominate the globe. He was right to be worried. Russia is now a minor player, and the race seems now to be mainly between the United States and China. But don’t count out the European Union just yet; the EU is still a fifth of the world economy, and it has underappreciated strengths. Technological leadership will require big digital investments, rapid business process innovation, and efficient tax and transfer systems. China appears to have the edge in the first, the U.S. in the second, and Western Europe in the third. One out of three won’t do, and even two out three will not be enough; whoever does all three best will dominate the rest.
We are on the cusp of colossal changes. But you don’t have to take Mr. Putin’s word for it, nor mine. This is what Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and a serious student of the effects of digital technologies, says:
“This is a moment of choice and opportunity. It could be the best 10 years ahead of us that we have ever had in human history or one of the worst, because we have more power than we have ever had before.”
To understand why this is a special time, we need to know how this wave of technologies is different from the ones that came before and how it is the same. We need to know what these technologies mean for people and businesses. And we need to know what governments can do and what they’ve been doing. With my colleagues Wolfgang Fengler, Kenan Karakülah, and Ravtosh Bal, I have been trying to whittle the research of scholars such as David Autor, Erik Brynjolfsson, and Diego Comin down to its lessons for laymen. This blog utilizes the work to forecast trends during the next decade.’