Multilateral Governance for the Digital Economy and Artificial Intelligence

Author Name ARMSTRONG, Shiro (Non-Resident Fellow, RIETI) / Jacob TAYLOR (The Brookings Institution)
Creation Date/NO. April 2024 24-E-052
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The digital economy and artificial intelligence (AI) play an increasingly pivotal role in global economic and societal value creation but lack multilateral rules. The current fragmented state of the global digital economy risks dampening digital and AI systems’ productivity growth potential and exacerbating their emerging risks. This paper provides three building blocks for new approaches to multilateral governance that can more evenly distribute the benefits of digital and AI systems while collectively managing their risks. First, it analyzes the economic logic of value creation in the digital economy and the policy dilemmas that this logic implies. Second, it identifies major economic and political challenges that impede efforts to advance multilateral governance, including concentration of power, protectionism, and exclusion in digital and AI systems. Third, it evaluates the potential of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI)—an increasingly globally-recognized framework for promoting publicly guaranteed digital ecosystems—to serve as a foundation for more equitable, interoperable and inclusive global digital and AI governance. The paper concludes by identifying near-term opportunities for policymakers to align on shared multilateral principles while respecting all countries' domestic policy space.