Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a potentially transformational technology that will have broad social, economic, national security, and geopolitical implications for the United States and the world.1 AI is not one particular technology but a general-purpose technology combining software and hardware in systems that enable technologies (machine learning, knowledge representation, and other forms of computerized approximation of human intelligence). This general-purpose nature means that AI could have wide-ranging economic impacts across manufacturing, transportation, health, education, and many other sectors. In 2018, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that AI could add around 16 percent, or $13 trillion, to global output by 2030.2 Since then COVID-19 has further accelerated the use of AI.
While the United States is the world leader in AI, China is catching up fast (and may lead in some areas) and other governments are expanding their own AI capacity. Rather than a zero-sum game, many such efforts can be additive, benefiting global welfare. The U.S. can encourage and support AI efforts that seek to develop and compete on fair terms. Other national policies—China’s above all—seek to erect barriers to free and open development of AI, appropriating the benefits for their national champions and applying AI as a geopolitical lever. Such policies could distort the development and benefits of AI for humanity, make the world less secure for the U.S. and