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Beraja, Martin, Kao, Andrew, Yang, David Y. and Yuchtman, Noam (2023) AI-tocracy. Quarterly Journal of Economics. ISSN 0033-5533

[img] Text (aitocracy) - Accepted Version
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Identification Number: 10.1093/qje/qjad012


Recent scholarship has suggested that artificial intelligence technology and autocratic regimes may be mutually reinforcing. We test for such a mutually reinforcing relationship in the context of facial-recognition AI in China. To do so, we gather comprehensive data on AI firms and government procurement contracts, as well as on social unrest across China during the last decade. We first show that autocrats benefit from AI: local unrest leads to greater government procurement of facial-recognition AI as a new technology of political control, and increased AI procurement indeed suppresses subsequent unrest. We then show that AI innovation benefits from autocrats’ suppression of unrest: the contracted AI firms innovate more both for the government and commercial markets, and are more likely to export their products; and noncontracted AI firms do not experience detectable negative spillovers. Taken together, these results suggest the possibility of sustained AI innovation under the Chinese regime: AI innovation entrenches the regime, and the regime’s investment in AI for political control stimulates further frontier innovation.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Management
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
JEL classification: O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O3 - Technological Change; Research and Development > O30 - General
P - Economic Systems > P0 - General > P00 - General
E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics > E0 - General > E00 - General
L - Industrial Organization > L5 - Regulation and Industrial Policy > L50 - General
L - Industrial Organization > L6 - Industry Studies: Manufacturing > L63 - Microelectronics; Computers; Communications Equipment
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O4 - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity > O40 - General
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2023 10:42
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2023 08:48

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