Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services


Beraja, Martin, Kao, Andrew, Yang, David Y. and Yuchtman, Noam (2023) AI-tocracy. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 138 (3). 1349 - 1402. ISSN 0033-5533

[img] Text (aitocracy) - Accepted Version
Repository staff only until 13 March 2025.

Download (5MB) | Request a copy

Identification Number: 10.1093/qje/qjad012


Recent scholarship has suggested that artificial intelligence (AI) technology and autocratic regimes may be mutually reinforcing. We test for 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 since the early 2010s. 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 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; 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: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
T Technology > T Technology (General)
JEL classification: E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics > E0 - General > E00 - General
L - Industrial Organization > L6 - Industry Studies: Manufacturing > L63 - Microelectronics; Computers; Communications Equipment
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O3 - Technological Change; Research and Development > O30 - General
P - Economic Systems > P0 - General > P00 - General
L - Industrial Organization > L5 - Regulation and Industrial Policy > L50 - General
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O4 - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity > O40 - General
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2023 10:42
Last Modified: 26 May 2024 06:15

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics