The Political Economy Of Artificial Intelligence
Dr Marcel Mbamalu

Ideological Differences Influencing Powerful Nations’ Stance On AI Regulation – Dr Mbamalu

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The disruptive tendencies of Artificial Intelligence (AI), one of the 21st century digital technologies, has sparked discussions about the need for effective regulation for it to serve the human needs well, however, the stance of powerful nations on controlling its deployment seems to be influenced by their ideological differences, coupled with the perceived intense competition for dominance that may come in future as potentials of the technology continue to unfold.

This was a view shared by Dr Marcel Mbamalu, CEO of Newstide Publications Limited, Publishers of Prime Business Africa, in a paper presentation at the International Conference organised by the Department of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) on 18 April 2024.

Dr Mbamalu, a Jefferson Fellow and Member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), is a Publisher and Communications/Media Consultant. His extensive research works on Renewable Energy and Health Communication are published in several international journals, including SAGE.

Speaking on the topic: “The Political Economy of Artificial Intelligence,” Dr Mbamalu highlighted how AI has taken the disruption of the media industry, started by computer revolution, to new heights and the global discussions around the risks associated with AI use.

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The media scholar and entrepreneur asserted that the global technological competitions, and the political economy of Artificial Intelligence, will in the coming years, likely drive discussions about risks associated with its use and what would inform regulatory approaches to be adopted by the technologically advanced countries in the global north such as the United States, China and Japan that own the firms producing AI.

He observed that as the technology unravels, countries, companies and industries playing in the system evolve strategies on “how to dominate the market driving the knowledge economy.”

“In music, video, telecommunication, computing, transport, industry, and even warfare, the race for domination is feverish. Less than 10 firms in each case control the global market for film, music and computing. Yet more than over 75% of the market share for these industries come from outside the countries that own the firms, which are mainly in the global north, e.g., the US, Japan, and China. Therefore, there is a lot of propaganda and plain politics to control global production and advancements in AI,” Mbamalu stated.

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US, China Europe Dominate In AI Investment

Mbamalu cited a 2019 AI Index Report, published by the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence in California, which revealed that global private investment in AI was more than US$70 billion in 2019, with the US, China and Europe having a larger share of the investments. Also, global corporate investment in artificial intelligence has grown significantly since the past decade, reaching a total of $934.2 (2013-2022), according to a Stanford University analysis estimates, he stated.

“Further estimates indicate that global investments in AI could hit $200 billion by 2025.

“The US is in top gear on AI investments and companies globally, with the country controlling the major technological giants whose cloud data investments are driving AI systems, e.g., Amazon, Facebook and Google.”

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Ideological Differences Influencing Powerful Nations' Stance On AI Regulation - Dr Mbamalu
Dr Marcel Mbamalu

Dwelling on the legal, economic and political dynamics of Artificial Intelligence regulation, the PBA publisher cited a report of the law suit filed by New York Times, against OpenAI and Microsoft, for copyright infringements by using “unauthorized published work to train artificial intelligence.” The international publication is making claims of billions of dollars.

“The situation tends to justify the strident calls for AI regulation both for the protection of copyrights and for protection against risks,” he stated.

He said G7 countries (the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan) on one hand and Russia and China on the other side, appear to have differences in terms of AI regulations which would set the stage for intense competition as they debate it at UN level.

He noted that while China insists that the state must regulate AI, to conform with the socialist ideological perspective, “the US and EU are generally more liberal in their approaches.”

“Beyond ideologies, however, laws also target AI research funding and child-related risks. Healthcare, financial services, housing, workforce are other areas receiving interest in legislation and competition.

“Forecasters are projecting trade wars to emanate from these areas, especially between the US and China,” he added.

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