The growing politicisation of AI harbours risks. Sophie-Charlotte Fischer and Andreas Wenger propose a hub for AI research in Switzerland committed to the responsible development of the new technologies.
The surge of progress in Artificial Intelligence (AI) over the last few years has been driven primarily by economic market forces and the manifold commercial applications. Large global technology companies, particularly in the US and China, lead the field in AI. Yet this concentration of AI resources in a few private corporations is increasingly undercutting the competitiveness of public research institutions and smaller companies. Such oligopolistic market dynamics threaten to exacerbate existing economic and social inequalities.
The global AI race
On the international level, a new technology race has started. State actors increasingly view AI as a strategic resource, as they expect far-reaching effects on the economy, society and the military. Accordingly they are stepping up endeavours to influence the innovation process and the proliferation of AI technologies. The latter dynamic generates an isolationist tendency that runs counter to transparency and openness in AI research and development.
A role for Switzerland
For a number of reasons, Switzerland is particularly well-positioned to take a leading role in advancing the vision of an international AI research hub and to serve as host state in its implementation. Her political neutrality, stability, self-reliance, and experience in shaping multi-stakeholder processes, make Switzerland a credible host for a global AI research platform.
Already the country has a dynamic AI ecosystem comprising excellent technical universities, a lively start-up scene, and global corporate technology leaders. At the international level, Switzerland has the opportunity to promote itself as one of the world’s leading research and innovation locations, a key facilitator of international cooperation, and a bridge-builder at the interface of peace support policy and foreign technology relations.