AI Eats the World: Preparing for the Computational Revolution and the Policy Debates Ahead

The Coming Computational Revolution

Thomas Edison once spoke of how electricity was a “field of fields.” This is even more true of AI, which is ready to bring about a sweeping technological revolution. In Carlota Perez’s influential 2009 paper on “Technological Revolutions and Techno-economic Paradigms,” she defined a technological revolution “as a set of interrelated radical breakthroughs, forming a major constellation of interdependent technologies; a cluster of clusters or a system of systems.” To be considered a legitimate technological revolution, Perez argued, the technology or technological process must be “opening a vast innovation opportunity space and providing a new set of associated generic technologies, infrastructures and organisational principles that can significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of all industries and activities.” In other words, she concluded, the technology must have “the power to bring about a transformation across the board.”

Expanding Our Skillset

Thus, AI (and AI policy) is multi-dimensional, amorphous, and ever-changing. It has many layers and complexities. This will require public policy analysts and institutions to reorient their focus and develop new capabilities.

Mapping the AI Policy Terrain: Broad vs. Narrow

Beyond talent development, the other major challenge is issue coverage. How can we cover all the AI policy bases? There are two general categories of AI concerns, and supporters of free markets need to be prepared to engage on both battlefields.

Confronting the Formidable Resistance to Change

Finally, free-market analysts and organizations must prepare to defend the general concept of progress through technological change as AI becomes a central social, economic, and legal battleground — both domestically and globally. Every technological revolution involves major social and economic disruptions and gives rise to intense efforts to defend the status quo and block progress. As Perez concludes, “the profound and wide-ranging changes made possible by each technological revolution and its techno-economic paradigm are not easily assimilated; they give rise to intense resistance.”

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Adam Thierer

Adam Thierer

Analyst covering the intersection of emerging tech & public policy. Specializes in innovation & tech governance, with a focus on the Computational Revolution.