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The Race to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

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An event featuring OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in Tel Aviv, Israel.

As the race for AI dominance heats up, how states choose to govern artificial intelligence will have a profound impact on the future of technology and society.

Credit: Amir Cohen/Reuters

Artificial intelligence is taking the world by storm. ChatGPT and other new generative AI technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way people work and interact with information and each other. At best, these technologies allow humans to reach new frontiers of knowledge and productivity, transforming labor markets, remaking economies, and leading to unprecedented levels of economic growth and societal progress.

At the same time, the pace of AI development is unsettling technologists, citizens, and regulators alike. Even ardent techno-enthusiasts—including figures such as OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak—are issuing warnings about how unregulated AI can lead to uncontrollable harms, posing severe threats to individuals and societies. The direst predictions concern AI's ability to obliterate labor markets and make humans obsolete or—under the most extreme scenario—even destroy humanity.

With tech companies racing to advance artificial intelligence capabilities amid intense criticism and scrutiny, Washington is facing mounting pressure to craft AI regulation without quashing innovation. Different regulatory paradigms are already emerging in the United States, China, and Europe, rooted in distinct values and incentives. These different approaches will not only reshape domestic markets—but also increasingly guide the expansion of American, Chinese, and European digital empires, each advancing a competing vision for the global digital economy while attempting to expand its sphere of influence in the digital world.

From Foreign Affairs
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