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Title: Getting Smart About the Future of Intelligence: A Comparative Analysis of Policy Approaches to Artificial Intelligence in the United States and the People’s Republic of China Followed by U.S. AI Policy Recommendations
Authors: Adair, Claire
Advisors: Felten, Edward
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2019
Abstract: Today, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is perhaps both the greatest opportunity and most threatening disruptor of contemporary governments. As a result, policymakers occupy a unique position, wherein they can either leverage AI and prudently foster its development, or be quickly left behind. One of the core assumptions driving this thesis is that today’s governments—particularly those at the helm of the world’s largest AI markets—have a critical responsibility to promote safe and ethical AI R&D, and to regulate the technology’s deployment across commercial and military uses as well as the labor market. AI policy and its global ramifications are severely neglected in both the academic literature and U.S. political discourse. Yet responsible and proactive AI policy is essential not only to U.S. competitive advantage abroad, but also to the prosperity of American citizens and long-term stability of global markets. This Senior Thesis therefore doubles as a comparative analysis of U.S. and PRC AI policies, and a U.S. policy paper informed by its research in Sections 1-3. Given the rapid rise of China, both as an economic powerhouse and a global AI leader, this thesis further hypothesizes that Chinese AI policy and growth-bolstering mechanisms can help to inform new considerations for U.S. federal AI policy. This thesis poses several research questions: (1) how do U.S. AI policy documents—both under former President Obama and current President Trump—and those issued by the PRC central government compare, and what can we glean from their comparative analysis? (2) How have differing governance structures and political dynamics of power influenced each nation’s implementation of the U.S.’ and China’s respective AI policies? (3) What can the U.S. federal government learn from the successes of its Chinese counterpart, as well as from the successes of some of its own government agencies? (4) What U.S. policy recommendations are necessary to both bolster national competitive advantage in AI and ensure mutually beneficial, long-term regulation of AI R&D, AI commercial deployment, and increasingly advanced high-risk autonomous systems? Research methods include in-depth analysis of U.S. and PRC respective AI policy documents (in Section 1); qualitative and quantitative research on each nation’s AI industry and R&D growth as well as the contemporary governance factors contributing to and shaping AI buildout in each nation; as well as examination of current political and trade tensions between the two nations as they relate to AI. General policy conclusions target methods by which the U.S. federal government can achieve boosted AI industry growth rates; stimulate basic research for long-term, fundamental AI technology breakthroughs; impose effective regulation; and retain a competitive advantage in AI over the next decade. At the same time, as China inevitably becomes a global AI leader, the U.S. must adjust to a shift in power sharing, whereby the federal government works collaboratively with China’s central government to regulate AI systems and the technology’s deployment in several sectors. Furthermore, considering U.S.-China trade tensions, policy recommendations touch on avoiding conflict by promoting cross-border AI R&D collaboration and implementing international regulatory safeguards for the development of AI-driven technologies such as lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWs).
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2020

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