April 2024

IZA DP No. 16948: The Political Economy of AI: Towards Democratic Control of the Means of Prediction

This chapter discusses the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) from the vantage point of political economy, based on the following premises: (i) AI systems maximize a single, measurable objective. (ii) In society, different individuals have different objectives. AI systems generate winners and losers. (iii) Society-level assessments of AI require trading off individual gains and losses. (iv) AI requires democratic control of algorithms, data, and computational infrastructure, to align algorithm objectives and social welfare. The chapter addresses several debates regarding the ethics and social impact of AI, including (i) fairness, discrimination, and inequality, (ii) privacy, data property rights, and data governance, (iii) value alignment and the impending robot apocalypse, (iv) explainability and accountability for automated decision-making, and (v) automation and the impact of AI on the labor market and on wage inequality.