AI Policy, Balancing Robots and Jobs a Global Challenge

February 16, 2018      

The U.K. could lag in self-driving car adoption, the Middle East invests in automation, and the U.S. and China race to develop chips and AI policy. Robotics Business Review has partnered with Abishur Prakash at Center for Innovating the Future to provide its members with cutting-edge insights into recent developments in international robotics, artificial intelligence, and unmanned systems. Are you ready to be updated?

Politics could define self-driving cars in the U.K.

A study by the London Assembly’s transport committee is warning that self-driving cars won’t become a mainstay on British roads until the 2030s or 2040s because of challenges around “infrastructure and connectivity.”

This contradicts a government projection that self-driving cars would be available in the U.K. by 2021. The committee proposes that London begin working on a plan around car-sharing to reduce any traffic gridlocks self-driving cars create.

As a geopolitical futurist, this is an interesting development for robotics and AI policy. The time it takes to have self-driving cars, on the roads could be seen as a determining factor for future economic competitiveness.

This means that political parties in the U.K. may begin including self-driving cars and other systems as part of their campaigns, either promising to roll them out faster or making proposals against automation.

The U.K. is also planning to host a 200-mile trial of the HumanDrive self-driving car on “country roads” in 2019.

Robotics is slowly making its way into politics, such as with Andrew Yang, an anti-automation candidate in the U.S. who hopes to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

Middle East in a hard spot regarding AI, robotics

Dubai in the UAE

Dubai is working to become an automation hub.

Like for many other regions in the world, robotics and AI are both a blessing and a curse. According to one study, AI will contribute roughly $320 billion to the Middle East’s economy, or 11% of the region’s GDP, by 2030.

The countries that will benefit the most from forward-thinking AI policy are the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. For instance, AI will add contribute 14% of the UAE’s GDP, and 12.4% for Saudi Arabia.

At the same time though, a separate study is projecting that 20 million, or 45%, of existing jobs in the Middle East could be automated in the future. The real challenge before Middle Eastern governments then, is how best to balance the positive and negative effects of automation. Time is running out, and if government do not act fast, technology may make the decisions for them.

U.S. builds its AI lead by focusing on chips

As the geopolitical competition around AI intensifies, the U.S. appears to be doubling down on AI chips as a way to compete with China and other nations.

Sources are saying that Amazon is following other technology firms like Apple and Google in designing chips to power AI. It is important to note here that this doesn’t mean Amazon will be manufacturing chips. Instead, it will be designing them to be manufactured by a third party. This comes as Google has announced that it will be selling its own AI chips.

However, designing and manufacturing AI chips is only one part of the puzzle. It does nothing for the U.S. if Chinese firms simply buy American AI chips, reverse-engineer them, and put them in Chinese products (which is likely what will happen to some degree).

This means the U.S. needs to think about a new AI policy to protect its innovations and share them with its partners. Recently, I proposed a concept called “free global AI market.” Might this be the geopolitical solution?

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