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The influence of artificial intelligence is already pervasive, and its potential for disruption – from scientific advances to job market shifts – means it also has serious political implications.

In this special edition of GZERO Daily, in partnership with Citi Global Wealth Investments, we look beyond the debate of whether AI will be good or bad – it will be both! – to the need for savvy political management during this tumultuous transition period.

Below, you’ll find:

  • A few handy definitions
  • Revolution vs. regulation
  • AI’s political impact
  • A rat regime
  • Plus: A podcast on AI and what it means for democracy

Thanks for reading.

– The GZERO Daily team

Before we go on: What are we talking about?

If you’re confused about the difference between “Automation,” “AI,” and “Generative AI,” that’s OK! They’re all related but distinct terms:

  • Automation is the use of robots to perform repetitive tasks based on pre-determined rules. (Slap together widgets on an assembly line).
  • Traditional AI recognizes patterns in vast sets of data and proposes (or even makes) decisions based on it. (Identify parts of the widget factory that are producing components less efficiently and identify why that is).
  • Generative AI draws on data sets to produce “original” works of thought, analysis, coding, or art in response to prompts. (Design a better widget for us, or handle all customer service calls about our widgets).

What We're Watching: Requests for regulation, power of personal prejudice, revolutionary potential

Graphic illustration of the letters AI and a robotic human-shaped arm and hand

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Regulate AI: Sure, but how?

AI revolutionaries like OpenAI CEO Sam Altman want government regulation, and they want it now – before things get out of hand.

The challenges are many, but they include AI-generated disinformation, harmful biases that wind up baked into AI algorithms, the problems of copyright infringement when AI uses other people’s work as inputs for their own “original” content, and, yes, the “Frankenstein” risks of AI-computers or weapons somehow rebelling against their human masters.

But how to regulate AI is a big question. Broadly, there are three main schools of thought on this. Not surprisingly, they correspond to the world’s three largest economic poles — China, the EU, and the US, each of which has its own unique political and economic circumstances.

China, as an authoritarian government making an aggressive push to be a global AI leader, has adopted strict regulations meant to both boost trust and transparency of Chinese-built AI, while also giving the government ample leeway to police companies and content.

The EU, which is the world’s largest developed market but has few heavyweight tech firms of its own, is taking a “customer-first” approach that strictly polices privacy and transparency while regulating the industry based on categories of risk. That is, an AI judge in a trial deserves much tighter regulation than a program that simply makes you uncannily good psychedelic oil paintings of capybaras.

The US is lagging. Washington wants to minimize the harms that AI can cause, but without stifling the innovative brio of its industry-leading tech giants. This is all the more important since those tech giants are on the front lines of Washington’s broader battle with China for global tech supremacy.

The bigger picture: This isn’t just about what happens in the US, EU, and China. It’s also a three-way race to develop regulatory models that the rest of the world adopts too. So far, Brussels and Beijing are in the lead. Your move, Washington.

Regulation can’t address what people want

The emergence of AI has amplified the problem of disinformation that has proliferated since the 2016 US presidential election, and regulation is often touted as a way to address this worsening issue.

But even if governments do find a way to effectively regulate AI – and that’s a big if – that doesn’t address the widespread demand for conspiracy theories that confirm people’s established political and cultural biases.

Indeed, in this hyper-charged partisan environment, the desire to create and access this sort of content has only grown – and AI is about to supercharge it.

In some instances, it already is: The campaign of GOP presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently shared AI-generated fake images of Donald Trump, his main rival, embracing Dr. Anthony Fauci, a divisive figure within right-wing political circles. Many DeSantis followers bought it, despite the photos’ authenticity being debunked.

This, of course, is nothing new. People say they want access to truthful information, but research suggests otherwise. For example, when researching misinformation in 2020, Australian analysts found that “unless great care is taken, any effort to debunk misinformation can inadvertently reinforce the very myths one seeks to correct.” Demand for information that confirms personal prejudices runs rampant. Loosely regulating AI is not going to quench that thirst.

The revolutionary AI upside

In years to come, experts tell us that artificial intelligence will alter societies and change individual lives on a scale greater than changes brought about by the creation of the World Wide Web. In the process, AI will create challenges and risks that deserve careful consideration. But headlines that warn of catastrophe are hiding the revolutionary advances and opportunities that will benefit billions of people.

By sifting quickly and efficiently through oceans of data, AI will help scientists and researchers develop new treatments, and even cures, for diseases, including cancer, that will no longer kill large numbers of people. It will help educators individualize the instruction of vast numbers of children, lifting young people everywhere much closer to their natural potential. By inventing new ways of working, AI will sharply increase economic productivity, an essential step in raising living standards.

Even as people around the world are made healthier, better educated, and more prosperous by these advances, no one should underestimate the upheaval created as human beings adapt to them, and there is ample reason to fear that benefits won’t be evenly shared – within countries or across borders.

How AI will roil politics even if it creates more jobs

Alex Kliment

Whether artificial intelligence will ultimately be good or bad for humanity is an open debate. But there’s another, more immediate issue that often gets lost in the scrum: Even if AI eventually creates more jobs and opportunities than it destroys, what happens to the actual people who lose their jobs on the way to that happier future? And how might their grievances shape politics in the meantime?

Think of the people who once earned a living by building or driving horse-drawn carriages. In a matter of years at the beginning of the last century, railroads and the nascent automotive industry erased their livelihoods entirely. Yes, those sectors ended up creating vastly more jobs than they killed, but it was tough luck for those in the buggy industry who weren’t able to learn new skills or move to those new jobs in time.

The same goes for US manufacturing workers whose jobs were shipped off to China or Mexico in the 1980s and 1990s. Or today’s Bangladeshi garment workers, who are threatened by US robots that can now make textiles better and faster than humans can. Although globalization and offshoring increased most people’s standards of living globally, that’s cold comfort for the people who were left jobless as a result.

And so it is today with AI. Between now and the time when AI is fully and beneficially integrated into all aspects of many existing (and new) jobs, a lot of people are going to lose their work and will quickly find themselves in a sink-or-swim situation that forces them to learn new skills, fast. Can they?

We don’t know who those people are just yet. White collar workers like coders, paralegals, financial analysts and traders, or (gulp!) journalists and creatives? Call center workers in emerging markets like the Philippines, where the industry accounts for as much as 7% of GDP?

But they will have real grievances and powerful platforms that can disrupt politics quickly. Whoever gets edged out by AI, the backlash will be fierce — and political. Social media offers a megaphone that buggy drivers in the 1880s or steel workers a century later could scarcely have dreamed of.

What’s more, AI threatens folks who are already in positions of relative power in many wealthy nations. Imagine an “Occupy Wall Street” style movement against AI led by, well, Wall Street itself.

The political ramifications will be significant. Consider the ways in which Donald Trump’s historic 2016 campaign weaponized the resentment of people who felt left behind by outsourcing and automation.

Displacement by AI will create similar grievances that policymakers will either have to head off through accelerated job retraining or redress through expanded social safety nets for those left behind. Who will AI’s victims vote for in the future?

CIO Strategy Webcast Series

Citi Global Wealth Investments

Join us each week on Thursday at 11:30am EST for a conversation with senior investment professionals and external thought leaders on timely market events and ask your most pressing questions.

Register now.

The Graphic Truth

Riley Callanan

Since ChatGPT, OpenAI's artificial intelligence chatbot, burst onto the scene late last year, AI seems to be everywhere – so much so that it’s become an integral part of our conversations, business dealings, academics, campaign ads, and everything in between.

While being faced with constant reminders of AI’s looming threat or promise, most people still had some catching up to do on what the technology even was — let alone what it could be. And whether you are inspired, afraid, or confused about the future of AI, you probably augmented that train of thought with a trip to Google.

We took a look at Google search history to see how often the most popular AI product, ChatGPT, is crossing humanity’s minds.

Hard Numbers: SoftBank on offense, publishers want their dues, global economic boom, China’s black market

Gabrielle Debinski

6.85 billion: After laying low in recent months, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said this week that he’s ready to move the company into “offense mode” amid the artificial intelligence boom. The company had been in a defensive posture after its investment arm incurred heavy losses worth $6.85 billion in the year ending March 31. SoftBank’s stock rose after the announcement.

20 million: Big Tech companies at the forefront of artificial intelligence developments – including Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI – are in talks with major global news publications to iron out a financial model for publishers to get reimbursed for news content used to train AI tech. Creating a workable framework for this unparalleled tech will be very difficult, with reports that some publishers have floated payouts of up to $20 million a year.

4.4 trillion: Generative AI could add $4.4 trillion to the global economy annually by reducing redundancies in work processes, according to a new report by McKinsey, one of the few firms to have assessed the long-term financial impact of AI. But there’s a catch: The report also says that 50% of work will be automated between 2030 and 2060 – 15 years earlier than the firm initially predicted.

20,000: A lucrative black market for sophisticated US-made AI chips has developed in China in recent months after Washington banned US conglomerate Nvidia from exporting two of its chips, the most sophisticated in the industry, to mainland China and Hong Kong. Chips are now being sold for close to $20,000 a piece, twice the normal price. The US, for its part, has slapped a range of sanctions on China in a bid to stymie its AI and quantum computing development.

How AI is changing our economy


In the latest episode of Living Beyond Borders, a podcast produced in partnership between GZERO and Citi Global Wealth Investments, we go beyond the hype surrounding generative AI and ChatGPT.

Archie Foster, managing director and head of Thematic Equities at Citi Investment Management, joins Eurasia Group’s Dev Saxena to break down how AI is transforming the economy and our political systems … and what that means for you.

Listen here.

Now, time for something crazy

How good is AI at generating things that are actually useful vs. terrifying vs. merely ridiculous? Can it bring our wildest imaginations to life? Or does it mutilate them in the process? You be the judge.

We asked DALL-E, an AI digital image generator, to create the image above based on this prompt: “An older rat in a top hat and monocle speaks to a young rat wearing a backpack as they stand in a post-apocalyptic New York City that has been destroyed.”

What are they saying to each other? Obviously that “the humans really did a number on themselves with that AI. On the bright side, we finally rule the planet. That’s right, even Alberta.”

This edition of GZERO Daily was written by Riley Callanan, Gabrielle Debinski, Alex Kliment, Carlos Santamaria, and Willis Sparks. Edited by Tracy Moran. Graphic by Paige Fusco, art by Ari Winkleman.

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