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Lessons From the World’s Two Experiments in AI Governance

Artificial intelligence (AI) is both omnipresent and conceptually slippery, making it notoriously hard to regulate. Fortunately for the rest of the world, two major experiments in the design of AI governance are currently playing out in Europe and China. The European Union (EU) is racing to pass its draft Artificial Intelligence Act, a sweeping piece of legislation intended to govern nearly all uses of AI. Meanwhile, China is rolling out a series of regulations targeting specific types of algorithms and AI capabilities. For the host of countries starting their own AI governance initiatives, learning from the successes and failures of these two initial efforts to govern AI will be crucial.

When policymakers sit down to develop a serious legislative response to AI, the first fundamental question they face is whether to take a more “horizontal” or “vertical” approach. In a horizontal approach, regulators create one comprehensive regulation that covers the many impacts AI can have. In a vertical strategy, policymakers take a bespoke approach, creating different regulations to target different applications or types of AI.

Neither the EU nor China is taking a purely horizontal or vertical approach to governing AI. But the EU’s AI Act leans horizontal and China’s algorithm regulations incline vertically. By digging into these two experiments in AI governance, policymakers can begin to draw out lessons for their own regulatory approaches.

The original article was published at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The Boston Global Forum (BGF), in collaboration with the United Nations Centennial Initiative, released a major work entitled Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment.   More than twenty distinguished leaders, scholars, analysts, and thinkers put forth unprecedented approaches to the challenges before us. These include President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Governor Michael Dukakis, Father of Internet Vint Cerf, Former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Harvard University Professors Joseph Nye and Thomas Patterson, MIT Professors Nazli Choucri and Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland.  The BGF introduced core concepts shaping pathbreaking international initiatives, notably, the Social Contract for the AI Age, an AI International Accord, the Global Alliance for Digital Governance, the AI World Society (AIWS) Ecosystem, and AIWS City.