Feb 19, 2022 • 5M

Comparative analysis of national AI strategies

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Dr. Nels Lindahl
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This topic has been added to my list of academic papers that I need to one day complete. Beyond that scholarly realization the core of this topic really has me conflicted about how to approach consideration about what a national AI strategy really entails. I’m fundamentally questioning what the trajectory of the strategic action would be for the different players involved. Within that conflict I have to wonder if the corporate players within a nation taking action would be inclusive of the strategy or only the official government plan should be included. Those sets of actors do not have to work together. It is an asymmetrical dynamic where one group needs the other a lot more to implement a strategy. To that end I set out to find government documents on the subject. Finding a national AI strategy document in English for a variety of different nations is actually harder to achieve from basic searching than I expected at the start of this journey. It might be an opportunity for an industrious or benevolent researcher to index all of the current plans and build a dataset for comparative analysis. 

Getting to the National AI Strategy for the United Kingdom online is really easy [1]. The PDF of that content comes in at a slim 35 pages. It is well written and easy to read. Clearly a 10 year plan exists to make sure Britain is competitive in the AI space. The only really big problem with that is that several of the key corporations in the artificial intelligence space are located several thousand miles away. Getting to the Artificial Intelligence Strategy document from the United States Department of Health and Human Services was fairly easy to achieve. It was published in January of 2021 and is only 8 pages in PDF format [2]. Reading both of those reports was pretty easy and only took a few minutes. From that point forward I started to wonder about the possibility of reading some comparative reports that might have been recently widely published. One of those reports that caught my attention was from the Brookings Institute titled, “Winners and losers in the fulfillment of national artificial intelligence aspirations,” [3]. That document let me know that 44 countries have entered the race by creating a national AI strategic plan. I immediately wanted to get the list and hoped that they shared links to this potential treasure trove. The Brookings Institute had two previous reports one about differing views and the other focusing on the analysis of 34 plans [4][5]. 

Yes, my primary focus of this inquiry so far was to dig into the plans of the United States and the United Kingdom and then reading three different reports from the Brookings Institute. I have no real preference for their reporting or research, but in this instance it was good quality reading material on the exact topic I wanted to take into consideration. The researchers did take the time to prepare a figure that shows the leaders in national AI strategy implementation which included India, Germany, China, South Korea, United Kingdom, and Canada. The United States actually fell distinctly below the line and was in an entirely different quadrant than the leaders called technology prepared. You could go read the Global AI Vibrancy Tool page from Stanford University to see a different perspective on rankings [6]. After reading all that content and starting to wonder why they did not share the actual dataset with links to all these national AI strategies I may have to reach out to some of the researchers to see if they published it somewhere else that I may have just missed during my exploration.

It seemed like a good idea to go and dig into Google Scholar to see if anything stood out comparing national AI strategies [7]. It does look like some of the comparative studies schools in public policy and political science have done some groundwork. None of it really dug in and provided the higher level statistical analysis with good coding on key metrics I was looking for to better understand which strategy and trajectory would be the most successful or is being primarily implemented. It is entirely possible that the free market will end up defining where AI is going to end up flourishing. Regulation could certainly constrain the free market innovation machine enough to diminish a national AI strategy. The other consideration is that the multinational nature of modern corporations means that even the best national AI strategy could be confounded by organizational reach.

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[1] National AI Strategy. United Kingdom. (2021, September 22). Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-ai-strategy or you can go directly to the document here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1020402/National_AI_Strategy_-_PDF_version.pdf 
[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, January). Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/final-hhs-ai-strategy.pdf  
[3] Fatima, S., Dawson, G. S., Desouza, K. C., & Denford, J. S. (2021, October 21). Winners and losers in the fulfillment of national artificial intelligence aspirations. Brookings Institute . Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2021/10/21/winners-and-losers-in-the-fulfilment-of-national-artificial-intelligence-aspirations/ 
[4] Fatima, S., Desouza, K. C., & Dawson, G. S. (2020, June 17). How different countries view artificial intelligence. Brookings Institute . Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.brookings.edu/research/how-different-countries-view-artificial-intelligence/ 
[5] Fatima, S., Desouza, K. C., Dawson, G. S., & Denford, J. S. (2021, May 13). Analyzing artificial intelligence plans in 34 countries. Brookings Institute. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2021/05/13/analyzing-artificial-intelligence-plans-in-34-countries/  
[6] Global AI Vibrancy Tool: Who’s leading the global AI race? Stanford University. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://aiindex.stanford.edu/vibrancy/ 
[7] national ai strategy comparison. Google Scholar. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C6&q=national+ai+strategy+comparison&btnG=  

What’s next for The Lindahl Letter?

  • Week 57: How would I compose an ML syllabus?

  • Week 58: Teaching or training machine learning skills

  • Week 59: Multimodal machine learning revisited

  • Week 60: General artificial intelligence

  • Week 61: AI network platforms

I’ll try to keep the what’s next list forward looking with at least five weeks of posts in planning or review. If you enjoyed reading this content, then please take a moment and share it with a friend.