Erik Brynjolfsson, Xiang Hui, Meng Liu, 16 September 2018

Recent years have seen dramatic progress in the predictive power of artificial intelligence in many areas, including speech recognition, but empirical evidence documenting its concrete economic effects is largely lacking. This column analyses the effect of the introduction of eBay Machine Translation on eBay’s international trade. The results show that it increased US exports on eBay to Spanish-speaking Latin American countries by 17.5%. By overriding trade-hindering language barriers, AI is already affecting productivity and trade and has significant potential to increase them further.

Jacques Bughin, James Manyika, 07 September 2018

As artificial intelligence technologies become more effective and are rolled out across economies, it is important to assess how their diffusion will affect different economic stakeholders. This column argues that an AI divide may open up on three levels: individuals (workers), companies, and countries. Unless the transition to the new economics of the future is managed effectively, these divides may create a backlash against the adoption of AI technologies, despite their significant potential long-term benefits.

Shunsuke Managi, 14 August 2018

In Japan, as in many other countries, manufacturers are testing automated driving technology, and policymakers are considering how to implement it. This column discusses the demand for the technology in Japan, using a survey of consumers. Almost half intended to purchase automated vehicles or driving systems, but willingness to pay was below the likely additional cost. 

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The European Commission is pursuing major initiatives in artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity. The goal of the latter is to improve awareness and response to the growing cybersecurity threats, while the goal of former is to ensure Europe’s competitiveness in the development and use of AI. However, integrating the initiatives will strengthen both. AI provides attackers new cybersecurity vulnerabilities to exploit and new methods to automate cyberattacks. Conversely, AI is a powerful tool for automating cyber defenses, discovering unknown vulnerabilities, and augmenting the shortage of human workers available to address cybersecurity challenges. That is why AI should play a key role in the EU’s cybersecurity strategy, and why cybersecurity should be a major part of its AI strategy.

Join the Center for Data Innovation and a panel of experts for a conversation about how AI can help Europe secure its systems, and the steps Europe should take to build more secure AI.

Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb, 08 August 2018

Regardless of whether one adopts a pessimistic or optimistic view of artificial intelligence, policy will shape how it affects society. This column looks at both the policies that will influence the diffusion of AI and policies that will address its consequences. One of the most significant long-run policy issues relates to the potential for artificial intelligence to increase inequality. 

Richard Baldwin, Vesa Vihriälä, 19 December 2017

Despite the setbacks globalisation has faced in recent years from reactionary politics, the advent of artificial intelligence and robotisation are set to ensure its continuation. Domestic policy must therefore be designed in such a way as to reap the rewards of globalisation while avoiding its pitfalls. This column uses the case of Finland to show how this can be done. Finland has grown faster than its peers over two waves of globalisation, despite enduring substantial setbacks. In both its successes and challenges, it is an important example of the need for deliberate policies to prepare for future disruptions.

Jon Danielsson, 15 November 2017

Artificial intelligence is increasingly used to tackle all sorts of problems facing people and societies. This column considers the potential benefits and risks of employing AI in financial markets. While it may well revolutionise risk management and financial supervision, it also threatens to destabilise markets and increase systemic risk.

Nicholas Bloom, Chad Jones, John Van Reenen, Michael Webb, 20 September 2017

The rate of productivity growth in advanced economies has been falling. Optimists hope for a fourth industrial revolution, while pessimists lament that most potential productivity growth has already occurred. This column argues that data on the research effort across all industries shows the costs of extracting ideas have increased sharply over time. This suggests that unless research inputs are continuously raised, economic growth will continue to slow in advanced nations.

Yoko Konishi, 15 September 2017

The latest AI boom that started in 2012 shows no signs of fading, thanks to the recent availability of big data and widespread adoption of deep learning technologies. This column argues that this new combination of data and technology offers an unprecedented opportunity for society. AI will develop sustainably only if systems are in place to collect relevant data, and AI is not adopted for its own sake.

Jacques Bughin, Eric Hazan, 21 August 2017

Artificial intelligence has been around since the 1950s, and has gone through many cycles of hype and ‘winters’. Based on a survey of senior executives from over 3,000 companies in ten countries, this column describes how artificial intelligence is experiencing a new spring and is here to stay. The authors also argue that it can bring firm-level productivity and profit growth, with employment dynamics that may not be as bad as anticipated by some.

Hidemichi Fujii, Shunsuke Managi, 16 June 2017

Patent applications are a good indicator of the nature of technological progress. This column compares trends in applications for artificial intelligence patents in Japan and the US. One finding is that the Japanese market appears to be less attractive for artificial intelligence technology application, perhaps due to its stricter regulations on the collection and use of data.

Daron Acemoğlu, Pascual Restrepo, 05 July 2016

Many economists throughout history have been proven wrong in predicting that technological progress will cause irreversible damage to the labour market. This column shows that so far, the labour market has always adapted to the replacement of jobs with capital, using evidence of new types of skilled jobs between 1970 and 2007. As long as the rate of automation of jobs by machines and the creation of new complex tasks for workers are balanced, there will be no major labour market decline. The nature of new technology, and its impact on future innovation potential, has important implications for labour stability.

Masayuki Morikawa, 07 June 2016

The substitution of human labour by artificial intelligence and robots is a keenly debated topic. Some claim that a substantial share of jobs is at risk, while others argue that computers and robots will lead to product innovations and hence to unimaginable new occupations. This column uses a survey of Japanese firms to examine the impact of AI-related technologies on business and employment. Overall, firms expect a positive impact on business but a negative impact on employment. Firms with a highly skilled workforce, however, have a more optimistic view than firms with lower skilled employees.

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