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An Alternative Option to Big Tech and China: Harnessing the Potential of Democratized AI

An Alternative Option to Big Tech and China: Harnessing the Potential of Democratized AI

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Guest Post by Kyung Yang Park

The advent of ChatGPT provoked widespread debate about the ethics of artificial intelligence. It’s not unlike other eras of radical change when an innovation suddenly reshapes our understanding of life’s possibilities. Imagine the automobile before speed limits, traffic lights, or car insurance. The car’s transformative power required a wholesale rethinking of norms, so much so that it coined a phrase we use every day: “rules of the road.” The rules for the road in the coming AI Age should be written by a new alliance of open, democratic societies. The Biden Administration and multilateral entities, including the G7, are trying to shape that architecture. As this happens, however, China is writing its own rules, and it’s no longer a guarantee that the global south will drive down democracy’s road, particularly when alternatives like China’s Belt and Road appear to be attractive shortcuts. It’s important that the rules we implement enable citizens everywhere to see, feel, and appreciate how AI can transform their lives for the better—and not take them to a dead-end.

Global leadership in exponential technologies isn’t about machines replacing people, but rather machines empowering people to meet their goals. This is the approach around which the democratic world is organizing itself. The G7 recently declared that AI policies and regulations should be “human centric” and based on democratic values, including protection of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and protection of privacy and personal data. Within the contours of those values, a “human centric” approach can uplift the economic aspirations of people in emerging economies, or revolutionize patient care, or empower diplomats and development officers using sophisticated metrics to channel aid where it is most needed.

The potential for AI to leverage greater economic empowerment especially resonates at a time of continued global “tech-lash.” While many places around the world remain cut off from the promise of technology, tech monopolies have exacerbated income inequality and worsened the growing problem of deep polarization within and among countries. Big tech platform companies monopolize their customer contact points, granting exclusive access to data, services, and technologies to a few while others suffer massive job losses and stagnation due to the increased efficiency and automation of technological advances.

At the same time, the emerging economies of the world demonstrate enormous demand signals for development and entrepreneurship, particularly in the gigantic population of young people from Africa to Southeast Asia. Around 2065, the world’s youth population is projected to reach its peak, at just under 1.4 billion people. Creating opportunity for these rising generations is a national security and economic imperative that demands governments and NGOs work in concert with education and training providers and with the private sector to deliver in-demand skills and competencies, bolstering national workforce development systems. Meeting this demand requires greater efforts to use technology to connect rising entrepreneurs to markets that historically have only been in reach for larger, more established entities flush with capital.

If the US doesn’t tap into these markets, China will—and it doesn’t share the same human centric model as the G7. High demand for advanced technologies and the absence of more ethical competitors allows China to inject surveillance technologies, complicate geopolitical tensions, and dominate critical mineral supply chains in the global south. While AI can create economic opportunities and improve connectivity in countries that desperately need it, Beijing uses its economic leverage to pursue national security interests that undermine the U.S. and its allies.

Thankfully, new advances in AI have the potential to empower entrepreneurial dynamism, protect the privacy and security concerns of consumers, and bring competition in critical technologies to new markets. While monopolistic tech companies and Chinese state-owned enterprises connect individuals to services all around the world, human-centric AI service models can replace these middlemen, providing the same experience as Google or Amazon but without farming user data or charging exorbitant prices. These models could help address “tech-lash” by responding to user expectations and demand for technology that meets their needs, making their lives easier while also respecting their privacy. For example, User-Centric AI Sharing Platforms (UCAI) provide hyper-personalized services while using encryption to preserve data ownership and security, increasing competition and choice without sacrificing user privacy. Technologies that replace predatory middlemen with anonymized marketplaces allow users to access merchants and services without worrying whether their data is being stolen or misused. In the process, user-centric AI concepts significantly increase efficiencies for both business and consumers, and create an attractive alternative to monopolistic tech companies and China’s predatory business and data practices.

Beyond their potential to boost economic competition, new AI innovations also provide security and partnership opportunities for democratic alliances. AI models can predict the ways rising prices drive political instability in key geographies, help plan for threat multiplier issues like climate change, and provide practical tools in daily analysis and policy planning—such as anticipating refugee flows and developing proactive government services. During South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s recent state visit to the United States, the two presidents pledged to cooperate on AI applications, including in defense and deterrence. While President Yoon was in Washington, two U.S. and Korean firms announced a partnership to combat money laundering (AML) and terrorism financing (CFT) through AI Sharing and federated learning.

These promising advances are critical to keep in mind as democracies consider the regulatory architecture needed to ensure AI is “human centric.” AI is a revolution—and revolutions demand effective rules of the road to harness their promise. Rules of the road are critical, from seatbelts to stop-lights. But let us also consider why life-changing, democratizing innovations are in high demand—and acknowledge the advantage that less ethical states and firms have in the markets where these technologies are needed most. By investing offensively in our own innovations and partnerships, we can ensure that we don’t leave human-centric AI stuck in the horse and buggy lane.


About the author

Kyung Yang Park, a Co-Chair of UCAI Forum and the Founder, President and Chief Visionary Officer of Harex InfoTech, is a pioneer of User Centric Artificial Intelligence. Park graduated from Korea Military Academy and holds an MBA from the University of Alabama. He previously taught economics, accounting, and business administration at Korea Military Academy.